In this Holi special installment of Friendly Fridays, we have a rather gregarious guest, Kunal Bhatia. An IIT’ian as well as a very talented actor, a little unusual don’t you think?
After completing his studies,on the pretext of a job in an MNC, Kunal shifted base to Mumbai where he got his first solo lead as Amber in Star Plus’ ‘Sajan Ghar Jaana Hain’.
Ever since he’s appeared in Meri Aashiqui Tum Se Hi, as Agnidev in Mahabharat , Halla Bol, Pyaar Tune Kya Kiya, Singhasan Battisi to name a few. But he’s not your average actor. He’s an avid reader and a rather crazy globetrotter. He’s made roadtrips on his Royal Enfield from Mumbai to Delhi and from Delhi to McLeodganj. He’s a free spirit and a master of malts. And oh, he married his highschool sweetheart. Too good to be true, right?
welcome to Friendly Fridays!
Team ED: You made your debut as a lead actor with ‘Sajan Ghar jana hai’ in 2009, how greatly has that journey changed your life?
Kunal Bhatia: It changed everything in my life, I was an engineer. I was working in Mumbai as a product manager. I started auditioning and within two months I was on the sets of a TV show, all the more a show that was to be aired on Star Plus.
Team ED: I am sure it must have been a 360 degree turn. You’ve worked in numerous shows up till now, playing the role of which character has personally been the most challenging for you?
Kunal Bhatia: I believe that my first role itself was very challenging for me. I am not from a filmy background. My character was about a simple guy who falls in love with a girl, but problems due to society as well as religion crop up. While working I learnt new dimensions of life, I experienced a whole different world with that character.
Team ED: I am sure the audience has their favourite Kunal Bhatia character, which character do you enjoy playing the most and which character do you relate the most to?
Kunal Bhatia: The role that I enjoyed playing the most was my first role. The maximum time I have given to a role is to my first one. Being a lead actor you have scenes with all characters, which further help you have different experiences onscreen. However I feel I am yet to do a bigger and better role with which people can remember me by.
Coming to the role I relate to the most, I would say that role has not yet been written, rather it is something I am working on myself.I am writing a story for myself, it’s been a rollercoaster to discover who I am, to pen down myself in words it becomes difficult. Being an actor writer is very difficult because you constantly try to figure out when you’re writing whether you would be able to justify the role you are penning down for yourself.
Team ED: Sound’s wonderful! Do you plan to make a debut in the film industry as well?
Kunal Bhatia: Yes absolutely, it is something I want to do. However the Television industry has been gracious, it has accepted me, liked me and offered me different roles.
Films are a different chapter, I want to create them as well as be in them.
Team ED: Apart from acting we’ve heard you love travelling, if there was one place you would love to be at this very moment, which would it be and why?
Kunal Bhatia: It undoubtedly has to be Mcleodganj in Himachal.
My heart longs to be in that place again, it’s a small place but you have the most beautiful people in the world who make brilliant food, their pastries and momos, I miss them all. Feeling of being free is what that place has to offer to you, you can take a walk to Biksu or visit a jheel at Dharamkot. I also love the monastery there.
Apart from Mcleodganj I love Rajasthan as well, as soon as you enter the place, their diversity gets to you . You find people in their beautiful coloured turbans; the way people there are connected with their past and culture is what amazes me the most.
Team ED: Also like we know that you have always been great in the field of academics, how did this great shift in your life take place?
Kunal Bhatia: I am not exactly a very nerdy guy. I learn whatever is required to know. How are things made and how things happen? I love physics and maths, these really interest me. I dropped a year, studied more and got into IIT just to discover that there are so many other things to life! A film making bug bit me. I started interning with media houses and learnt how to write scripts.
I then shifted to Mumbai, worked for a few months saved money and started auditioning. I was fortunate enough to get my first break within 2 months.
In between I also started my own company as well.
I just wanted to make films. I made an adfilm as well with Dia Mirza for a sanitary wear product that was successful!
I came back to Delhi and opened a small office as well where my team and I worked on advertising and also I worked with directing as well as conceptualization of animation films.
Then it felt like acting was calling me I was shortlisted for a role in Jodha Akbar! So again I came back and started acting again.
Team ED: Woah that’s a whole lot of things! So which would be the one thing that you would want to do out of all the things that you just mentioned?
Kunal Bhatia: To be honest I want to take a break and party because after all you need to celebrate. But on a serious note I am good with the technical side and at managing projects so probably making another production is what I would want to do .
Team ED: What according to you would be the pros and cons of working in the television industry?
Kunal Bhatia: TV is a beautiful medium, it plays in every house, and you enter the lives of so many people through a small screen. They start to relate to you with your character. If you play a good guy, they start sympathising with you! Basically they connect to you at that kind of a level. That would be the best thing about being in the TV industry!
The con however would be Indian television channels are run by multi cops who are making good stories but they have to telecast 5 episodes in a week, which touches about 2.5 hours that is as good as a film, we literally make a film every week. There’s no personal life left, there’s no travelling, and a kind of stagnation starts to brew. This is restricting the youth to enter the TV industry.
We are yet to evolve in this aspect, for example shows like How I met your Mother, Breaking Bad and other sitcoms, they have one episode per week, the quality difference is bound to come in such a scenario.
Team ED: Something surely our shows need to work on. So on a non serious note tell us one fun fact about yourself that your fans are not aware of?
Kunal Bhatia: Alright this might sound a little vague, but I like to wear my sunglasses, listen to music and write hindi scripts. Pretty bizarre, eh? (Laughs)!
I write whatever comes in my mind during this time.
Team ED: Haha, sounds pretty interesting. So what would be your core belief in life, your motto?
Kunal Bhatia: I believe in being a one man army and want to create a model for myself, to create a lifestyle for myself. Be more humane and most of all is to be happy!
Team ED: Happiness a key to life, Great! One advice you would want to give to young aspiring actors?
Kunal Bhatia: The one advice I would give is that they should really really work on themselves and challenge themselves until they find a zone where they are comfortable and where they are really good.
Stand in front of the camera, live the moment, feel the emotions and your work is done!
Team ED: What do you think about Friendly Fridays?
Kunal Bhatia: I think it’s a very good platform; individuals like me get a chance to speak their hearts out! I think Economy Decoded with a project like Friendly Fridays can make youngsters open their eyes and see that their dreams are liveable when they read interviews like these.
Also wishing the readers a very Happy Holi!
Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.