Kunal Khemu, he of the bulging biceps, disarming smile and committed relationship, is the man behind the viciously hilarious dialogues in his new movie Go Goa Gone. Even Saif Ali Khan’s trademark line, I keeeel dead people, is Khemu’s genius. Who knew he had it in him? Not us. But when Brunch met him one morning, and spent the next half hour chatting, laughing and privately swooning, we now believe there’s more to the hunk too.How did we not know you’re a funny guy? You seem so serious!
After Kalyug (2005) and Traffic Signal (2007), everyone thought I only wanted to do serious movies. I had to break away from that image. After Dhol (2007) and Golmaal 3 (2010), people assumed I was the new funny guy in Bollywood. With Go Goa Gone, I think I have strengthened that belief. But honestly, people, and surprisingly critics, liked my performance.
You co-wrote the lines with Sita Menon. How did that happen?
That is what happens when your directors don’t know Hindi! But seriously, it was by pure accident. Raj and DK [directors] realised their jokes were too firang. So I told them I’d write a couple of scenes and dialogues. I spent two hours every day for 15 days to come up with lines for every character. I’d think of dialogues the whole time, while eating, walking and even in my sleep. It is really hard to make people laugh. It is easier to scare them or make them cry. When Raj-DK finally read my stuff, they were rolling on the floor. They loved it so much that I became their full-time Hindi dialogue writer! They’d write the scene and email it to me so I could add my desi quirks. We decided we wouldn’t announce my input because we didn’t want to divert attention from the movie.
What did you keep in mind while writing the lines?
The only thing I had in mind was to be true to the lingo of the new generation. These guys are urban snobs who talk in a particular way – ROFL, WTF! Obviously they use cuss words like you and I do. We didn’t set out to have profanity in the movie, but when you put the characters in a situation, it was natural for them to talk in that way. I mean, if you’re scared of out your wits, your first reaction is to say f**k or s**t. That’s what the characters said. But we’ve been told that despite the cuss words, it doesn’t sound vulgar. I like humour that is real. I wanted the situation to make you laugh!
What makes India laugh?
I don’t know. The Indian audience is very diverse. No one formula works for them. Some like slapstick stuff, some like satirical movies, others like subtle humour. We knew Go Goa Gone would click with the urban audiences. You know that one obnoxious friend who talks like Hardik. But you might also know a middle-class boy from Bihar who may not relate to GGG’s humour. There’s a huge divide. Sometimes you don’t know what’s going to work.
What makes your girlfriend, Soha Ali Khan laugh?
I do! Our sense of humour is kind of similar, sharp and witty with an undertone of self-deprecation. Even in Go Goa Gone, the idea of putting Soha in the movie was mine. And she was game even after I told her that I would have to call her, saali kutti, in that scene. We just laughed and she said yes.
From HT Brunch, May 19
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