If there’s one actor who has walked away with all the accolades in Mohit Suri’s Malang, it’s Kunal Kemmu. The actor who played the role of Michael Rodriguez, the antagonist, is happy that the audience is loving the character. “It was difficult before we actually started shooting it because when you read it on paper, you’re trying to understand what the guy is, and there was no reference too. There isn’t another Hindi movie with similar kind of character. I was initially nervous about how we will go about the character but then we had discussions. While filming, I was going by my instinct and was hoping that people will like it,” he says.
After the success of his villainous acts in both Kalank and Malang, Kunal says that he is open to playing the ‘bad guy’ more often. “I have never refused to play any kind of character or genre. It’s just that nobody ever offered me a negative character before. I also think that in the last few years, we’ve started to see villains in a different way. They’re not all bad and do bad things with bad agenda,” he says, adding, “ We’re trying to explore the anti-hero within the hero. We are humanising the villain to make them an interesting watch.”
He feels villains have become relatable. “As an actor, you always get to play parts that are like you. The relatability factor is the most important connect. When you’re playing a character where you can’t find the right emotions to link it to, the performance becomes dishonest. The audience connects with the emotional vulnerability of a character, whether it’s a hero or a villain,” says Kunal adding that there’s an emotional vulnerability to Michael that comes from a basic human emotion. “We have to give credit to writers and directors who are venturing into these zones."
The actor who started off as a child actor, considers himself lucky because he got the opportunity to work with the two filmmakers he loves (Mohit and Abhishek Verman). “They have done something different. I have done comedy for so long, so the first credit goes to the makers to even think of me to do such a role, which was a risk because both the characters that I played (in Kalank and Malang) were integral to the story. It also changed my image,” says the Golmaal franchise actor.
Currently shooting for the second season of Abhay, his debut web series, Kunal talks about his intense character who is fighting his own personal demons with such ease. How has the character evolved this season? He replies, “I have tried to take him to the next level, and the cases too. What I like about Abhay is that, in a true sense, this was the first set where I played a cop and did something beyond comedy. I like the space of crime, investigation and the world that Abhay gets into. I also like the fact that it takes inspiration from a lot of true crimes. I have really enjoyed it.” The Zee5 Original will start streaming later this year.
The thing with OTT platforms is that once the viewer gets hooked on a series, they wait for the next season. Is there any kind of pressure with the content and the expectations? Kunal says,“The pressure is good, it makes you work harder. The fact that we have created the expectation is good because people watched the first season with none. Hence, it’s important that we live up to it. We are nervous too.”
Has fatherhood affected his choice of films? Kunal says that there are certain kind of films, like Golmaal, that his daughter can watch, but for Malang she has to reach a certain age. “I do not want to restrict myself as an actor with projects that satisfy me, but I want to do films which she will be proud of,” says the actor, whose next release is Lootcase which might release in April. Quite excited about it, he says that it is a different breed of comedy. “It has such a great ensemble cast with Ranvir Shorey, Gajraj Rao and others under the leadership of debutant director Rajesh Krishnan. When I watched the film, I really enjoyed it,” he says.
Before signing off, we ask him how Go Goa Gone 2 is shaping up. Thrilled with the interest the film is getting even after so many years of its release, he replies, “It’s a special film because I turned writer with it, having no other option. There are logistical issues but I hope that they get sorted out soon and we do make the film,” says that actor who, along with wife Soha Ali Khan, is turning producer with a biopic based on the life of eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani. The scripting is in its final stages.