Actor Kunal Kapoor says he is drawn to characters or films that deal with important issues. The actor’s latest release Noblemen deals with bullying and toxic masculinity.
In an exclusive conversation with indianexpress.com, Kunal spoke about Noblemen, why he is not seen onscreen much and more.
Why did you choose Noblemen?
Bunch of things actually. Firstly, it was interesting how the director Vandana Kataria has adapted Merchant of Venice, which is one of my favourite plays. She based it (the play) in the school, which was very interesting. Secondly, I thought the role I was offered to play was something that I had not done before. I had the chance to play this very unorthodox, rebellious teacher, who has a unique way of teaching his students. He is a drama teacher and I come from a theatre background. So, this was a world I love and I am familiar with. Thirdly, I thought the director has a very unique voice. She was addressing issues that no one else was looking at. One was bullying, the other was toxic masculinity and also how all of it damages children emotionally and mentally.
The school is like a microcosm of the society that we live in. What is depicted in the school is what happens in society as well. I also liked the theme that if you don’t keep the monsters of the society under check, they end up creating bigger monsters. So, yes that is why I chose to get on board.
Are you drawn to such roles/films?
I think all the choices that an actor makes are very instinctive. But as an individual, there are a lot of things that I feel very strongly about. I think subconsciously I am drawn to things that address those issues. For instance, toxic masculinity is something I feel strongly about. So, when something comes around that deals with it, I automatically get drawn to it. Having said that, I am not going around seeking issues-based films.
Do you think the audience has become more accepting of films with unusual stories?
The audience is accepting different scripts. Now, you have different platforms, especially OTT platforms where you do not have to think about the box office success or failure. You don’t have to add a song to make the film appealing but just tell the story the way it needs to be told. It is exciting. The other thing I am happy about is the fact that in the 90s, our films used to be more about NRIs, which felt unreal but as a country, we were going through a phase where we were aspirational. So, that was something we were looking for. Now, we are far more confident about ourselves. Now, we see stories coming from our roots, which is spectacular because there are so many stories to be told.
There’s a scene where the boy is being bullied as the principal and you are watching. The principal says it will make a fine man of him someday. As a society, we are still failing to accept people as they are. What’s your opinion on that?
The film talks about a certain sense of homophobia that exists. I think, in our society, even though Article 377 has been scrapped and a lot of people are coming out of their closet, there is still a large population that is homophobic. So, yes, it is one of the things that the film deals with.
A lot of Bollywood actors are hopping on the web series bandwagon. Are you keen on such shows?
Yes, there are a lot of scripts that have been offered to me. There is one that I really liked. So, hopefully, the makers will announce it soon.
Any show you are hooked on to?
I am watching Big Little Lies season 2. I am blown away by Meryl Streep in it.
You debuted in Malayalam industry with Veeram in 2017. Any plans to work down south?
There is something similar I have been offered. I will be seen in the role of a physically challenged warrior. It is different in comparison to Veeram. The talks are on with the makers.
But why don’t we see you often on-screen?
I am glad people are asking why am I not seen on-screen often, which means they want to see me more on screen. But you know, the thing is you can only choose from what you are offered. If you are offered a few scripts then the choices you make will be even lesser. If I was offered scripts that were exciting to me, I would have done more films because I love being on the sets. But the kind of work I am seeking has been few and far. However, I do see a change. I have been working in different films in past two-three years. Now, I am offered roles that I am excited about. So, you will see me often.
What’s next for you?
I have a film up for release called Koi Jaane Na. I am very excited about it. It is sort of a script I was waiting for as an actor because it gave me a chance to explore things that I have not done before. I think it is a very unique script. The director spent his last six years writing the script. The draft we shot was the 24th draft. So, that is how invested he was. It should be out next year. I am looking forward to its release as I am excited about how people will react to it.