Gold star Kunal Kapoor says camaraderie with co-stars on set was similar to that of Rang De Basanti

Seema Sinha

Aug,11 2018 14:45:04 IST

Akshay Kumar-starrer Independence Day release Gold may be Kunal Kapoor’s first sports film but it is not the first time that Kunal has worked in a film with patriotic theme. Reema Kagti’s sports drama Gold, which is inspired from true events and real life characters, sees him in the role of a hockey player-turned-coach from the team that brought home the first gold medal for India as an independent nation in the 1948 Olympic Games in London.

Kunal had co-starred in the widely successful Aamir Khan’s Rang De Basanti in 2006, and he was recently seen in Raag Desh that chronicled the court-martial of Indian National Army (INA) officers, and historical drama Veeram as well. “Maybe I have a face that belongs to another era that I am picked up for patriotic and historical films. But I am also drawn towards subjects that are dated. I feel it is important to tell stories from our own country. We have such a wonderful history and we haven’t even scratched the surface,” says Kunal.  

Kunal Kapoor in a still from Gold. YouTube

Kunal Kapoor in a still from Gold

It’s the “single-mindedness” of the character that drew Kunal towards Gold. “My character plays this legend his generation has grown up admiring, they want to be like him. He has led India to number of victories in the past but only as a British colony and his only aim is that one day, we will win as a free nation. He isn’t looking at anything else in his life but only fulfilling his dream,” says the actor.

“Secondly”, Kunal continues, “It was the story told in the pre-Independence era and then I had an opportunity to play a sportsman, these were the other reasons for me to say 'yes'. When I read the story, I was completely blown away because it had drama, it was emotional, it had patriotism and it was hugely inspiring. I was always fascinated by that era which is '20s, '30s, '40s because people in the pre-Independence era had a certain amount of passion for the country. There is something magical about that time, and maybe because we have seen a lot of that period in black and white so it gets even more magical. Also, being a sports person, I always wanted to do a sports biopic and learn a whole new sport,” says Kunal, who’s proficient in cricket, football, basketball, volleyball and handball.

Backed by Ritesh Sidhwani and Farhan Akhtar, the film also stars Amit Sadh, Vineet Kumar Singh and Sunny Kaushal, who portray hockey players. Kunal jokingly describes his co-stars as a “bunch of hooligans”, pointing out that Akshay, as the team manager on screen and the leader of pranksters off camera, balanced work with fun. “Akshay is a great guy to have on sets. No matter how difficult the situation is, he is always calm and patient. He takes his work seriously but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. You don’t feel that you are working with a huge star,” says Kunal. “During breaks, we’d play cricket or football and after pack-up, volleyball. Besides the actors, we had another 16 players training with us and the bonding was incredible. It was like the camaraderie during Rang De Basanti. When you are doing a sports film, you are constantly training together for many months, so automatically you develop a huge amount of bonding with your co-stars,” he adds.  

Akshay Kumar and Kunal Kapoor in a still from Gold

Akshay Kumar and Kunal Kapoor in a still from Gold

With so many characters in the film, was there any insecurity about the screen time? “That happens only when actors aren’t clear about their character graph. Reema was very clear on that front, and each character was from different background and era. I enjoyed working with Reema because she has lot of clarity on what she wants from the actors, what she sees in the characters and at the same time, she gives you a lot of liberty to explore it yourself. It is rarely that you meet a director with this combination,” says Kunal.

Kunal is all for sports biopics and he has his own theory behind several sports biopic being made in Bollywood, in recent times. Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2012) set the ball rolling and it was followed by Mary Kom, MS Dhoni: The Untold Story and Soorma among others. Next year will probably see true sports drama on Saina Nehwal, Abhinav Bindra, a film on the 1983 cricket World Cup win and PV Sindhu to name a few. “There was a time in the '90s when we were making films that were aspirational with most talking about the affluent NRIs, and we were shooting lot of films in London and the US. But now, as a country, our mindset has changed and we are looking for stories that happen in our land, or we want to talk about the unsung heroes which is really great because we have so much in our history that hasn’t been depicted on screen or anywhere else. It’s because the audience is lapping up these stories that the filmmakers are happy to make them,” says Kunal, who is glad that many more hockey films are being made. “Hockey is a sport that has brought us so much glory but nothing much has been done for the sport. Also, I hope that more and more people are encouraged to take up the sport,” he says.  

Besides acting, Kunal, who began as an assistant director on Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's Aks (2001), has another passion of that of writing, and the first script he co-developed was Luv Shuv Tey Chicken Khurana (2012). He is currently working on four film scripts ranging from a romantic comedy to a biopic. “Writing comes naturally to me. I have my hands full with four projects, one of which should roll early next year. It’s an ensemble cast, a slice-of-life comedy set in Varanasi. I’m also working on a biopic and a coming-of-age story of three guys. The fourth script is based on a true incident,” says Kunal, who is not seen frequently in films as he says that the exciting offers are few and far between. "I felt the content that I was looking for was not coming my way. Also, in this industry, people are quick to put you in a box, and it’s important to break out just as quickly. So I decided to develop subjects in which I had my heart. But acting remains my top priority,” he says.

All images from YouTube.

(Also read — Gold music review: Sachin-Jigar's album is high on drama, with hints of jazz and Indian classical)

Updated Date: Aug 11, 2018 14:45 PM