"Mohit launched me 15 years ago. With Malang, he has introduced me as the bad guy," Kunal Khemu on playing Michael in Malang
Actor Kunal Khemu will always be remembered as the child artiste from films like Sir, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke, Raja Hindustani and Dushman. These films established Kunal as a dependable child actor in the industry. In 2005, he debuted as a lead actor in Kalyug, and this was followed by a series of multi-starrer projects and some insignificant films.
Kunal’s childhood filmography took precedence over his current career graph. However, films like Golmaal 3, Golmaal Again, Go Goa Gone, Kalank and the recently released, Malang have secured the actor’s position in the industry. Though his comic roles in the Golmaal films will stay with the audience, Kunal’s recent shift towards negative roles has helped in projecting him in new light. “As a child artiste, I was exposed to a film set and I was very comfortable facing the camera. But when I was launched as the lead, it took time for me to adapt. People always remembered my performances as a child artiste. I knew I would always be compared to my earlier roles, but I am glad that I have been successful in breaking away from the mould, with people appreciating my recent work,” says the actor.
Mohit Suri launched Kunal in Kalyug, and the actor says the director has relaunched him with Malang. “I am thankful that I bagged the role of Michael. Mohit launched me 15 years ago. With Malang, he has introduced me as the bad guy,” he offers. In spite of his negative roles, Kunal remains the go-to supporting actor for comic roles. “Comedy is tough. It is serious business. You are either good or bad at it, there’s no middle ground. You act and react quickly. Emotional roles are easier to perform, but it can drain your energy. There’s no comparison between the two. Both are equally demanding,” explains Kunal, who will be seen next in Lootcase, which is also a comedy.
Kunal’s personal life too has drawn the attention of the audience. The actor’s marriage with his long-time, live-in partner Soha Ali Khan put the couple in the spotlight. Then, when Soha delivered their first child, daughter Inaaya, they were back in the news. Talking about his relationship with Soha, Kunal says, “After Inaaya, life has definitely changed a lot. She has brought a lot of joy and fulfillment but also a huge sense of responsibility.”
As a doting father, the actor tries and spends time with his daughter whenever possible. He says, “I have been discovering new places and play areas for children because of Inaaya.” In fact, recently, Kunal posted a picture on Instagram of himself and Inaaya, standing in front of a bike. He captioned it, ‘My new Sunday riding partner. Because it’s never too early to start.’ Talking about his wife Soha, he reveals, “It’s a cliche to say this, yet I will say that she is my best friend. She is my go-to person for everything.”
The couple is now working on co-producing a film about one of India’s celebrated advocates Ram Jethmalani, along with Ronnie Screwvala’s RSVP Movies. “We have a circle of lawyer friends, and at times, we used to discuss his (Jethmalani’s) cases and they all spoke of him like he is the superstar, the Salman Khan of advocates, so we decided to capture his life and cases on the silverscreen. Scripting is almost done, but we may end up making a series because it’s a long narrative,” discloses the actor, who is currently shooting for the new season of Abhay, a web series for Zee5.