Kunal Sharma, 29
Moved from Delhi to pursue his Bollywood dreams
Only a few make the cut. Of the unknown, but a very large, number of people who take a flight or train to Mumbai every year in pursuit of Bollywood dreams, only a handful bag an assignment, or that get that famous “break”.
Sharma can be counted among the lucky ones. An MBA and a former corporate employee from Delhi who shelved his Army dreams after an accident, he arrived in Mumbai in February to try his luck in acting. Within a year, he bagged two plum assignments — the role of a Pakistani intelligence officer in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, and a part in Zubaan, which releases in 2016.
The actor, who was part of the theatre group Asmita for about three years before he shifted to Mumbai, says he has borrowed from his father’s genes. “My grandfather is a 1971 war veteran and my father dreamt of a career in films — even spent a few years in Mumbai in the 1970s — before settling for a more secure government job,” he says.
Sharma, credits his success to a few things he brought to Mumbai with him:
A DVD of Scarface
”Once, a friend told me the story of Al Pacino — how he struggled hard and how he become such a great actor. I have watched all his movies since,” says Sharma. Scarface, the first Pacino film he watched, however, remains special. He has owned its DVD for several years and watches it when he feels “low”.
A “lucky” shirt
Sharma was reluctant when his friend picked up for him this mustard shirt from a rack while the two were shopping. It wasn’t a colour he much liked but bought the shirt upon the friend’s insistence. “I got it to Mumbai and wear it for auditions because it has proved lucky for me so far.”
Since his theatre days, Sharma has been maintaining a diary in which he jots down “acting tips, inspirational quotes or merely some dos and don’ts”. “I flip through it when I am feeling down to understand where I went wrong,” says Sharma. One pointer he keeps going back to is “never let success get to the head”.
Sharma has brought with him scripts that he has performed to, and a few that he has written himself. Participating in a few workshops and talent showcases, Sharma was expected to pen a two-minute performance. “Using sunglasses as a metaphor, my script spoke about how some people shy away from harsh reality,” he says.
My dad never told me about his struggle to become an actor or his stint of learning under Om Puri, until I decided to move to Mumbai. “Ever since, he has been an ardent supporter of my career and shares valuable advice,” says Sharma.