Karan Kapadia on debut film Blank, and how Sunny Deol, Akshay Kumar's presence raises the stakes
Karan Kapadia, son of late actress-costume designer Simple Kapadia, is all set to make his Bollywood debut with Blank, a thriller co-starring Sunny Deol.
When you have yesteryear diva Dimple Kapadia as your aunt, Twinkle Khanna as your cousin, and able support from brother-in-law Akshay Kumar and industry veteran Sunny Deol, one would feel that life is sorted for a budding actor. But Karan Kapadia, who is set to make his Bollywood debut with high-octane cop-versus-terrorist thriller Blank (release on 3 May) does not look at it that way.
“I started my journey when I was 15 and I never asked them for any help. I kept giving my auditions and I never thought that if this didn’t work then they will launch me. And when nothing works out, you are not privileged enough to say ‘No’ to an opportunity that has fallen in your lap. That is where I am coming from,” says Karan, son of late actress Simple Kapadia (of Anurodh-fame). Simple, also a popular costume designer then, was Sunny’s costume designer for nearly two decades.
Karan feels overwhelmed with the presence of two big stars in the film. In Blank, Deol plays the role of an Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief on a mission to neutralise a suicide bomber (Karan). Akshay, on the other hand, gave his support through a special song in the end of the film. “Their presence does change the landscape of the film. I signed the film in 2016 when we didn’t even have a studio on board. Script was different and it was a small budget film. But they changed the script and got someone of Sunny Deol’s stature on board, taking the film to another level. But we needed that because I am a first-time actor, Behzad (Khambata) is a first-time director, then our DOP is also first-time, Pranav is a first-time writer and we have few first-time ADs (Assistant Directors). Also, working with Sunny sir after seeing him on sets 20 years ago was a surreal feeling,” says Karan.
Obviously, one would want to know if he took any tips from Sunny and Akshay. “None. I never discuss my performance or my craft with them because each actor’s approach is different. What works for them doesn’t mean it will work for me. I can ask Akshay sir how to do action and he will say: ‘Do two roundhouse kicks’, but I can’t even lift my legs! We have to know our strengths and weaknesses, and tailor our performance around it.”
Sans too many song-and-dance sequences, Karan’s Blank is not a conventional launch, which is quite rare for a star son making his debut. “That is because I am not a 'hero'. The trend is changing and I feel that if one is making a film on a suicide bomber, and suddenly he starts singing and dancing then it will look weird; though there have been some good serious stories with songs in it and there is nothing wrong in it. But we didn’t want to distract people who are engrossed. When we were making the film, we also kept in mind that we won’t give a single moment to the audience where they look at their phone to check who has sent a WhatsApp (message) to them. I personally like quick-paced films and I don’t want to become a hero. I want to be a good actor who does good work,” he adds.
Though Karan was trained under theatre director Barry John, he believes in learning on the job. Hence, he started assisting when he was 15-16 years of age. “But I have a bad luck charm because the first two films I assisted (directed by Rahul Dholakia and Kabir Sadanah) never got released. Then I assisted on (Akshay Kumar-starrer) Boss and acted in a short film called Crescendo, that went to Cannes. When I was 18, I met Pranav (Adarsh) and Behzad, who have co-written Blank,” he says. Karan is currently writing a script for a sci fi film, along with Behzad and Pranay, for an OTT platform.
One would probably think that watching his family, and school batchmate Alia Bhatt, to some extent, inspired him to better his craft. “You do tend to get influenced by your family members, so I wanted to act since I was 11. I started working towards it when I was 15. But more than anything else, it was the anxiety problem that I had growing up. I always wanted to take part in plays. Alia was in my batch. She was killing it, and I would watch her and wished I could act like her. But I couldn’t muster up the courage to do it. I always regretted it. When I started doing short films, it (anxiety problem) started getting better. I started coming out of my shell a lot more. So, now when I act or perform on stage, there’s a feeling of personal accomplishment for me, that I was able to overcome this barrier,” he says.
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From watching you on set as a little kid to sharing the screen with you some 20 years later , what an absolute honour and privilege, thank you so much , @iamsunnydeol for being a part of this ride. And just in case you guys forgot , #BLANK TRAILER IS OUT NOW!! (Link in bio) #blank#blankthefilm
So is he still in touch with Alia? “We know each other but do we have dinner together? No. My aunt is in Brahmastra. We are friendly but it is not like we go out for sleepovers. I am not friends with anybody. I know Sara (Ali Khan) because my mom was friends with her mom (Amrita Singh) and my aunt (Dimple) is friends with her mom. But I haven’t gone and made friends with them. The connection is only because of the family. Alia and Sara are the only two people I know,” he says.
Talking about his character in Blank, it placed him in a unique situation, says Karan. “Because he is not playing a typical suicide bomber where the bomb has been stuck with duct tapes and he has a trigger in his hand. Instead, it is attached to his heartbeat. I had good two years to prepare though it was not voluntary to wait for two years. But in hindsight, it helped because I got time to construct my character from scratch. Conversations with Baizad helped. I know Baizad for eight years so if I am not doing something right, he could tell me it is rubbish and change it. That honesty and straightforwardness helped. I am not a method actor and lot of things came instinctively. Of course, it was difficult being in that zone because in the entire, film I am either running or crying, or getting beaten up, or beating people up. But I am not the person who takes work home so when I am done with shoot, I don’t think about it,” he says.
Raise the ‘N’ (Nepotism) word and Karan, as if expecting that it was coming and that he cannot be spared from it, says, “I hope same trajectory happens and people stop referring to me as Twinkle’s cousin or Dimple’s nephew. Often it is written and portrayed that way. But it doesn’t bother me. If people don’t like me then they won’t watch my films. It’s very simple.”
There may have been many heroes around when he was growing up but Karan has only idolised and admired Dimple. “She is the only one actor I looked up to. Our relationship is amazing. She is like my second mother. She took care of my mother when she was ill. She took care of me since my mom passed away. She is my biggest support, my biggest fan,” says Karan.
However, he regrets that he could not tell his mom that he wanted to become an actor. “It sort of hit me when I was doing a scene with Sunny sir. I hadn't thought of it until then. She was Sunny sir's costume designer, so to see her son in the same frame with him would have been a big thing for her. So yes, not being able to tell her is one of the regrets I have," he says.
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