Karan Kundrra's It Happened in Calcutta is streaming on ALTBalaji and ZEE5.
Actor Karan Kundrra talks about his latest web series It Happened In Calcutta, love over the years and the digital medium.
Excerpts from the conversation:
How is It Happened in Calcutta relevant in today’s time?
People don't know a lot of stuff that happened in India in the 1960s and 1970s. They don't know what happened with the masses, how the hippie culture came in, Naxal movement was happening, people were trying to recover from wars, and the entire country was trying to get up on its feet. Calcutta being a cultural capital was going through a lot. Women couldn't make decisions for themselves, abortion was illegal and the medical profession was male-dominated. So, in It Happened in Calcutta, we have touched upon all of these and of course, it also showcases a love story which grew amid these tensions and tragedies.
Tell us about your character Ronobir.
Ronobir is one of my toughest characters. The things he does might make you hate him, but you will relate to him since everyone has done mistakes in life and have learnt from them. In cinema, we generally show the male leads to be an ideal person, but Ronobir has not been portrayed as a perfect man. While playing him, I had to make sure that my performance doesn't cross that fine line between being naughty and being vulgar. We took nine months to shoot the show because a lot of detailing went into it. Apart from physical transformation, the hardest part was to make people who have met me and have seen me before, accept me as Ronobir. If you see the promo, you will realise Ronobir doesn't look like Karan at all.
It is also based on war. We even hear how hate is a strong feeling. We are experiencing it at the moment as we speak. Do you think the series is releasing at the right time?
There is no right time for hate. People today and people in the 60s were fighting against the hate. The reasons were different, but hate has always been there. Somebody is influencing someone to hate, but we have to counter that and move beyond that. It is important to teach youngsters that different people have different opinions and you have to be adjusting. This world is not just for you.
A still from It Happened in Calcutta.
The web series also narrates a love story. How has love changed over time, in your perspective?
I think when we were kids, our definition of love was influenced by what we saw in movies and TV shows. But then we make our own mistakes and learn from them. The more experienced you get, the more people your life touches, the definition of love keeps changing accordingly. For me, love is something which keeps evolving. From my first girlfriend to my current girlfriend, I have loved differently and for different reasons.
Your characters seem to be privileged and arrogant. How come such characters find their way to you?
(Laughs) Well, in real life, I am quite a charmer. If you meet me in real life, you'll realise I am very different from my onscreen image. It is just that I have played such roles that everyone sees me as an arrogant man. I am a person who won't take bullshit from people and tolerate anything wrong happening around me.
What is your opinion of the digital medium?
The web platform is very different from television. TV actors do not get so much work in movies, but the web has created a new space. It has ensured that TV actors get better projects, better pay and better work situations. It has given us a chance to prove that when you associate numbers, in terms of subscriptions of a web platform, with us and not TRPs, then we are also brands. A lot of out-of-work actors have got work because of the digital medium.
Do you think your luck in films hasn’t been good?
I am not a part of the rat race. I am a part of good stories. After 1921's success, I was offered similar roles, but I chose to be a part of Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare, a film by Alankrita Srivastava. Everyone knows Alankrita won't work with anyone just like that. I am not the one who will sign any film. I don't want to be part of movies where my character doesn't make sense.
How was the experience of working on Dolly Kitty Aur Woh Chamakte Sitare?
I am very glad that I am a part of a film which is made by powerful women and is about women. It has already screened at Busan Film Festival where Bhumi Pednekar won an award, and soon it will be going to another big film festival.