It’s 7 am in Los Angeles, USA. And the voice on the other end of the phone sounds groggy. But one suspects
, better known as the nerdy Rajesh Koothrappali from the Emmy-winning TV show, The Big Bang Theory (TBBT), is used to phone calls at odd hours.
He’s not your usual Indian-American actor in Hollywood. The Delhi boy travels back frequently to see his family. So, phone, or Skype calls, like his character makes, is surely familiar territory.
Now, Kunal’s looking to take his India association further. He’s got a book in the works, about his journey from India to the American TV industry; he’s doing a Canadian film, Dr Cabbie, that has Salman Khan as producer; and now, he’s produced a documentary, Beyond All Boundaries, set against the backdrop of India’s win in the 2011 Cricket World Cup — seen through the eyes of three ordinary citizens.
Why a documentary on cricket? We took you for more of a badminton guy (he played the sport during his school days in Delhi).
Cricket’s such an integral part of everything we [Indians] do. Everyone has memories associated with it. We still shut shops for an India-Pakistan game. But I felt there was a lack of movies on cricket. A friend knew I was obsessed with the sport, so he mentioned the documentary to me. I jumped on board as a producer. [As for badminton] everyone here makes fun of me for playing it. They see it as something you play in your grandma’s backyard, in tiny white shorts.
Where were you when India won the 2011 World Cup?
I was in Las Vegas, shooting. It was 6 am in the morning, and I’d found out about a British pub that was screening the game. So there I was, the only person in the bar, draped in the Indian flag, with my family in India on Face Time. When Dhoni hit the winning six, I ran out on to the streets.
Your Canadian film is produced by Salman, who’s as big an ally as one can ask for in Bollywood. Are you eyeing an Indian film career?
I’m dying to do a movie in India. I grew up watching Bollywood films. So, anyone reading this, next summer, I hope to be in India, doing a Hindi film. I’ve signed a three-year-contract to stay on TBBT, and I hope the show will go on for longer. But I do get summers off.
On Ellen DeGeneres’s chat show, you talked about a book. How’s that coming?
It’s finished. It’s with the publishers, and I’ll be doing a second draft soon. A lot of people don’t know I’m from India, so I wanted to write about my journey from Delhi to Los Angeles.
Since you travel between the two cities, what are the biggest differences that strike you?
Forget cultural differences, I get lost in Delhi now trying to get from point A to B. I love driving, but now, with things changing so fast, and flyovers everywhere, I feel like a tourist in my own city.