Kunal Kapoor says film industry isn’t the place to find ‘purity’, recalls friends warning him against becoming an actor

  • Kunal Kapoor, in an interview with Hindustan Times, talked about his journey in the film industry, how he ‘accidentally’ became an actor and the response he has been getting for playing Mughal emperor Babur in The Empire.
Kunal Kapoor recently played Mughal emperor Babur in The Empire.
Kunal Kapoor recently played Mughal emperor Babur in The Empire.
Published on Sep 30, 2021 07:06 AM IST
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BySamrudhi Ghosh

Kunal Kapoor, who played the Mughal emperor Babur in the Disney+ Hotstar series The Empire, is overwhelmed with the response he has been getting. In an interview with Hindustan Times, he talked about why he relates to the emotional vulnerability of his character, how he ‘accidentally’ discovered his passion for acting and why one should not expect ‘purity’ from the film industry.

Speaking about the response to The Empire, Kunal said, “It has been like nothing I have experienced before. Obviously, with Rang De Basanti and Aaja Nachle, there was a great response but now we live in a time of social media where the responses you get are pretty instant and you instantly know when people like or don’t like something. The response that I have got on social media, through messages, and people calling has been absolutely overwhelming and pretty phenomenal.”

The emotional vulnerability of his character Babur is something that Kunal related to. “I think as actors, or anybody that is in public life, you are constantly dependent on validation from other people,” he said. He also called actors a ‘helpless piece of the puzzle’, pointing out the contribution of writers, directors, musicians, producers and others while making a film.

“And then, the film releases on Friday and audiences may not like it at all. You may have worked for two years and the audiences might say ‘this is absolute rubbish’ or they might not like what you have done. So you always find yourself in a place that is vulnerable because you are always looking for validation. That’s what I found fascinating about this character as well, that he is somebody who eventually becomes this big ruler, but he is always unsure about himself and whether he deserves the kingdom or whether he just got lucky, whether he is capable or not,” he said.

Kunal revealed how he ‘accidentally’ became an actor. “I was really sort of struggling with what I really wanted to do in life. I was in college and I tried multiple things - construction business, exporting mangoes to Hong Kong and doing all kinds of stuff. I worked in the stock market for a couple of years. Each time I did something, I found that I didn’t have my heart in it. And I felt like I wasn’t enjoying it,” he said.

One day, a friend from an ad agency called and asked Kunal if he still had long hair. “I said yes and she said, ‘Come to the office, we are auditioning and we need someone with long hair.’ So I went in for the audition without knowing what it was all about and I got the first ad. I went on the set and I was like, ‘This is where I want to be for the rest of my life, this is so much fun.’ I think I discovered it accidentally, but once I was there, I wouldn’t be any other place,” he said.

In his career spanning nearly a decade-and-a-half, Kunal has seen his share of ups and downs. “I think I have pretty much gone through the whole cycle of success and failure. When I was starting off, I had friends in the industry that said, ‘Don’t become an actor, it’s very difficult for outsiders, have a Plan B in place if you are becoming an actor.’ Then, when Rang De Basanti happened and a bunch of Yash Raj films happened, I was suddenly the next big thing. Then those films didn’t work and I was finished. Now, I have reached a place where everyone is saying, ‘He is such an interesting actor, we want to see more of him’,” he said, describing his journey as ‘interesting’.

Also read: Hrithik Roshan drops rare throwback on Kunal Kapoor’s birthday, jokes ‘I am so glad we don’t look like these two’

Recently, Kunal said that the film industry is filled with fair-weather friends. Elaborating on his remark, he said, “It’s called the film industry for a reason, it’s called the business of cinema. I think what you have to realise very soon, for your own sanity, is that people don’t like or dislike you. They like or dislike the fact of whether you can make money or not for them. When you are successful and you can make money for people, they will line up, and when you are not successful, you can’t make money for them, so they won’t like you. It might sound like a very cynical thing to say but it’s not cynical, it’s the truth. You have to accept that and work with that.”

Kunal, too, had people queuing up at his door when his films were hits and when he went through a low phase in his career, the same people stopped offering him work. “That is something that you have to really understand, that this is the business of cinema, if you are looking for purity here, this is not the place to find it. This is where people make and lose money and you have to sort of understand that and live with that,” he said.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022