Breaking all barriers: Kunal Khemu | india | Hindustan Times
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Dec 14, 2017-Thursday
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Breaking all barriers: Kunal Khemu

Kunal Khemu is the surprise package of Traffic Signal, writes Arnab Banerjee.

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Is making a remarkable debut all that difficult? It may be, since nobody really knows what one is capable of doing and understandably, there are a lot of expectations that one has to live up to.

But it could be easy as well or not at all that difficult either. With nothing to look forward to, one begins on a clean slate.

What is more challenging is to leave a mark in any second film, as most trade pundits would agree. The first film could well be a runaway hit, the accolades for which would be shared by all associated with the film.

It's in the second film that the actor's abilities are put to test. Take Kunal Khemu for instance, whose first film Kalyug made people take note of this talented actor in an unusual thriller where he, unlike most wannabe actors, wasn't exactly playing the romantic hero.

It must have been a tough decision on the actor's part not to get swayed by public adulation after Kalyug (directed by his friend Mohit Suri) became a hit to be careful of not signing each and every film that was offered to him. If he chose a Bhandarkar over other mainstream directors rather carefully and consciously, the decision has surely paid off.

Here is a role which requires more prowess as an actor than the typical "dancing around trees" role.

As Silsila, the orphan who goes onto become the unschooled leader working at a Traffic signal, Khemu lives the role of the street smart head of an organized set up comprising beggars and tricksters.

It does require a lot of nerve to accept a somewhat deglamourized role in a film where nobody plays a protagonist and yet everybody's character is equally important.

Khemu as Silsila, like all other characters, doesn't grow but despite a half-baked role, he makes an impression. With minimal make up and dirtiest possible attire, he easily fits into his ruffian looks.

<b1>His romance with the Gujarati roadside kiosk owner who sells traditional clothes (Neetu Chandra) is not overdone in the film. Khemu too, on his part, underplays his quiet assertion of his love for her.

Another scene that stands out in the film is the one in which he is introduced to the loacal don, Haji (Sudhir Mishra). As he gazes at the larger than life Haji his naïve ignorance of this man's status shows his pleasant innocence.

Also, towards the end, when he refuses to bow down and decides to reveal the identity of the killers of the engineer (Mohan Joshi), his steadfast resolve and exemplary courage is strikingly notable.

His 'Whatever will be, will be' stance is what makes him so believable and Khemu doesn't disappoint. It's good to know someone so early in his career, is ready to break the stereotyped notion of a 'hero' and what's more – is willing to take risks is highly admirable too.