Interview

Trump as president is everyone’s worst nightmare: Kunaal Roy Kapur


The director of The President Is Coming believes a sequel to his 2009 political satire would be in order if the controversial Republican candidate were to win next month's election in the United States.

Mayur Lookhar

Back in 2011, a pile of shit led to a comedy of errors, one that was gleefully digested by audiences. Abhinay Deo’s Delhi Belly had people holding their bellies and guffawing. Imran Khan walked away with the kudos, but let’s not forget it was Nitin Berry’s upset tummy that resulted in all the madness. If it weren’t for his constipation, there would have been no Delhi Belly.

Kunaal Roy Kapur’s performance flushed the audience off its feet. Sadly, it remains his lone success, as the actor-director has found the going tough thereafter. It has been a downhill phase for his siblings as well, actor Aditya Roy Kapur and older brother and Disney India CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur.

Kunaal Roy Kapur, who turned a year older on 12 October, spoke to Cinestaan.com a day later, holding forth on subjects as diverse as the struggles of the siblings to the danger of Donald Trump becoming president of the United States. Excerpts:

It would be a cardinal sin to talk of a tummy upset, but have you ever experienced a Delhi belly after a birthday party?

(Laughs) Maybe not directly after a party, but my stomach has been my nemesis since I was very young. So definitely channelling experience while playing that role. It [Delhi belly] has always been my Achilles heel. The director [Abhinay Deo] got well into my past, Thankfully, not in my closet.

So, how did you spend your birthday?

I had family over for dinner. Such celebrations are usually private and low-key. We didn’t celebrate long into the night. It was merely a family get-together.

As an actor, the going has been tough for you since 2011. Will it require another bout of constipation to improve your body of work? 

I hope not! I don’t want to keep doing the same role. So, I’ll keep experimenting with the stuff that I get. I don't think I need to revisit that role. I need to keep trying different kinds of comedy roles. However, I’m not strictly looking at comedy. I also need to break out of the comedy mould. It’s a risk to break out of that mould, but I’ve been lucky enough that such roles are now coming my way.

In hindsight,  was playing a devil's advocate in Azhar not a wise idea? 

I enjoyed the process, it was a nice change of look for me, it had its comic overtones, but the character was more dramatic. I had hoped for the film to do better, but it didn’t. Reddy was an advocate from Hyderabad. So, I tried to get the Hyderabad accent, made him look a lot older than my age. It was a nice change for me to play someone like Reddy. 

The prime criticism against Azhar was that it distorted facts about the former India captain and in some ways justified him more than it should have. Emraan Hashmi, too, has acknowledged this. 

There are different ways to look at it. If you made a film which was exactly like the image people had of him, then you would be just playing to the pre-conceived notion of Azhar. The other was to try to stay as close to reality, and what the popular story is about that person. There are no tapes of Azharuddin's [match-fixing] conversation. So, you don’t really know what transpired. What you saw in the film was one version. Now, it should be left upon the people to decide whether they believed it. As an actor, you go with the writer and director's vision. 

You made a play and a film, The President Is Coming, about George W Bush's visit to India. What do you see coming for the world and for India if Donald Trump becomes president?

Trump becoming US president is everyone’s worst nightmare. You don't want incompetent people at the top. You don’t want people who have a warped vision of the world, one who is slightly mentally unstable. Hopefully, better sense will prevail, and they will have a sane person run that country. America will have lot to answer for if he is elected president.

If Trump does come to power, wouldn't it be a good time to have a sequel to The President Is Coming?

(Laughs) Yeah, I guess so. However, the problem with Trump is that there is very little fun that you can make of him because the stuff that he says is naturally so funny, so offensive, regressive. All you need to do is hear him to laugh. So, you don’t really need perspective on it. In some ways, it’s a challenge to take someone who is already so ridiculously entertaining and make it more entertaining. Yes, there is a potential for a sequel, but where would we find another Trump? It would be difficult to find someone with orange skin and hair like that. Perhaps, we will need to search in Rani Baug [the Mumbai zoo].

Disney India will no longer make Hindi films. Have you been able to have a word with your brother Siddharth after the failure of Mohenjo Daro?

We did discuss it, but I wouldn’t like to comment on it. 

When your brother is the producer of your film, does it put more pressure on Siddharth as well if the film fails? Isn't there talk that maybe the producer is trying to push his own kin?

No, I don’t think that is the case. Requisite processes are followed when the casting is done. Our family is the last one to indulge in such [nepotism]. We all have made our way here on our own. And we are quite proud of that. Such criticism doesn’t bother us. 

There have been reports of Siddharth resigning and starting his own film production company. Will you be part of his new venture?

I wouldn’t like to comment [on that] here. I think he would definitely want to stay involved in films. The capacity in which he does that is still up for discussion. He is very passionate about movies, and he would love to stay involved in the industry. 

Be it your brothers, you, or even Vidya Balan, it’s not often that we find four members of a family going through a bad phase. Do you just shrug off this lean phase and laugh over it?

Sometimes you have success, sometimes you have failure, but the important thing is to keep working and not lose heart. You need to keep trying, improve your skills. All of us are more interested in the work that we do rather than think of any other aspect. You do want to introspect. You want to understand what works, what doesn’t, you want to grow as an actor. All of us have learnt from our failures. Vidya, Aditya and I are still getting work, Siddharth is still producing movies. That is a privilege which we all respect. So, this is more of a joy-giver than just success and failure. 

Has Vidya Balan recovered from the bout of dengue? Has she started shooting for her next? 

Yes, she has completely recovered. I don’t have details on her work schedule though. 

Finally, what are your upcoming projects?

I’ve got 3 Dev. It’s a light-hearted comedy. It has Karan Singh Grover, Ravi Dubey, Kay Kay Menon. It will be out sometime next year. There is another thriller, which is in the post-production stage. It’s a serious role. I’m playing one of the protagonists. I can’t disclose more.