Dunno Y…Na Jaane Kyu is regarded as the torchbearer for LGBT films from India after it got applauded and appreciated internationally. The movie not only bagged 11 international awards but also gave way to the first Indian-Norwegian movie collaboration with its sequel Dunno Y2, which is releasing coming Friday. Today on ‘Chai With Shai’ we have Kapil Sharma, my dear friend and the lead actor of the Dunno Y series opening up to me about everything from movies to his life, and future ahead over the customary Cutting Chai! Here are some excerpts from our conversation.
From a child actor to a mature actor how has your journey been so far?
Fantastic! As a kid I got the opportunity to act with bigwigs like Dharamji and Rakheeji in superhit films like Shradhanjali, Hukumat etc. Infact I enjoyed my short little stint of fame in my school as I always grabbed a lot of attention from my friends, teachers and relatives (smiles).
I can understand (smiles)
I wonder at times how I managed to act when at that age as I was a shy kid. I used to get nervous every time, even while speaking to guests visiting our home. That does not mean I am now super confident and extrovert (laughs) I am still a shy and introvert person however, even now as well as when I was a kid, I just transform into some other person the moment I face the camera.
How was it growing up being Anil Sharma’s younger brother? How much did he inspire you to take your baby steps in Bollywood?
We are a big family. I have four older brothers and one sister. Being the youngest Anil Bhaiya was always like a father figure. I remember at times he used to come to pick me from school and we used to walk all the way home. He used to take me for ice cream treats and we used to have a lot of fun but when he had to be strict he was really strict.
Being Anil Sharma’s brother, K. C Sharmas’ son, I learnt a lot of things about this industry by default. Like I have seen phases when the attitude of the industry people changed with every Hit or Flop they made. I have seen them hitting the zenith and then falling down, only to rise back and so on. Their success and failure somewhere made me realize early in my life that nothing is permanent here. My Mantra – Never get carried away by success and never destroy yourself when you are down.
Also I learnt from Anil Bhaiya that you cannot take your success or good work for granted. One cannot live on their past laurels, instead one has to work harder and reinvent yourself continuously or this industry will not care if you are the son of a popular person or not.
So true (frowns)… Tell me your earliest memories about Bollywood?
Since my father had started film production even before I was born, I was exposed to the movie industry from birth. At that time we had a small 1BHK house which also doubled up as my father’s office, so there was some or the other work related activities always happening at our home, all the time. Also as my father is also an astrologer, lot of industry people dropped at our home for consultation. Therefore, from childhood I was exposed to film personalities at close quarters.
I remember my brothers regularly watched classics repeatedly at home. Classics like Pyaasa, Mughal-E-Azam, Sholay, Amar Akbar Anthony etc. apart from English classics were seen. I was subconsciously exposed to all kind of cinema and for me biggest hobby was to watch films (laughs).
Same here (joins in laughter) even now I have to watch one more a day or I can’t sleep.
That’s the magic of movies I believe (smiles). Every week I had to see one film in theater otherwise I would cry (laughs) therefore, my mom used to force my brothers on my weekly holidays to take me for a movie. I used to imitate dance moves of actors and actresses I used to watch in those movies (laughs out loud).
You started out with a commercial movie like Ab Tumhare Hawale Watan Saathiyo directed by your brother Anil Sharma starring Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and Bobby Deol. How was your experience working on that movie?
It was a tough movie to do. When I signed the film I actually didn’t realise that I am so fortunate that I am working with The Amitabh Bachchan in my first film itself. For this film I went for a one month army training at an army cantonment. I stayed over there as a jawan and followed everyday rituals of training, without giving away my true identity. The training was gruesome and I felt a sense of achievement the day I completed it (smiles).
For the role, I also worked on my Haryanvi accent. Everyday shooting with mega stars like Amitabh Bachchan , Akshay Kumar, Bobby Deol, Danny Dengzongpa, Naghma and thousands of crowds, and a huge unit in difficult locales of Manali and Rajasthan in the worst temperatures (sighs), was tough but worth cherishing for life time (smiles).
What was it that prompted you to experiment with a controversial subject in Dunno Y1?
Most of the Bollywood films portrayed gay characters in a clichéd way by caricaturing them and always used them for cheap fun. Films never touched the human side.
True… So how did it take shape?
Then I saw Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain and it made me think. I felt a sensitive story like it should also be made in India. But many people suggested me that it’s not the right time to make a movie on similar subject. But I feel there is no right or wrong time for a good story. If it has to be told it has to be told… Period (smiles).
How did you and Yuvraaj meet?
Yuvraaj and I initially met in our dance class. Though we were always cordial with each other, we became good friends once we started working on this film (smiles).
Lata Mangeshkar had long stopped accepting any singing assignments what was it that prompted her to sing one song each in both your movies?
I would say I am very very lucky. In the last 5 years she refused offers from some of the biggest directors and production houses, yet she sang for us in both the films. In fact in the last 5 years, ours is the only Hindi feature film in which she has sung songs (smiles). For me music means Lataji and my day is incomplete without listening even one song of hers. It was my dream that Lataji should sing for at least one movie of mine and the universe granted my wish (smiles). It is rightly said that what you really desire for, the universe does its best to get it to you. I guess when we approached her, both the times somehow she just could not refuse. But I am greedy and have taken a promise from her that she will sing for my next film too (laughs).
Did you ever feel that a movie with a gay theme will be banned by the purists and you might never see it release in India?
When we started the film, we thought it will create curiosity, but then we never thought that we would get such extreme reactions wherein we even got life threats via anonymous letters during the first movie’s release. Then there was a protest against the movie lead by a political party who stood outside my house (sighs).
You never felt like giving up?
Never! In fact most of the multiplexes had refused to screen the film for its theme even after the movie starred legends like Helenji, Zeenat Aman and Kabir Bedi. That was in fact a very big shock. Hopefully we are expecting this time around there will be changes in the mindset of those people who protested and theaters who refused to screen.
Is Dunno Y2 a continuation of what we saw in the first movie or a totally new story with the same set of actors?
Will this time the story is completely new. But the names of our characters are same of last films. This time we meet in a new background and with a different approach. Last time the film was more serious this time also the message is the same but in a more fun and celebration way.
What is DunnoY2 all about? (story in brief)
Dunno Y2 is a sweet funny love story between a Pakistani and Indian boy. It gives a message that love is above gender, religion, race and manmade boundaries.
What is the USP of DY2?
The freshness in the story. A different approach of script which is an amalgamation of Indian and Norwegian sensibilities. The beautiful locations of Norway and the lovely music and of course our performances (winks).
How confident are you of Dunno Y2 getting acceptance in present scenario?
This time we are much more confident with the acceptance. The generation next is very cool and open-minded. We pray things go fine and our film should lead to more awareness and acceptance to the LGBT issue.
Dunno Y1 has reaped some of the prestigious awards how confident are you to repeat the same with Dunno Y2?
Well Dunno Y1 is considered a cult film worldwide as it won 11 international awards and it’s still getting screened in some or other part of the world. To touch this benchmark for the sequel is not easy. But still, Dunno Y2 started with its first screening at the prestigious Opera House of Oslo, that’s an honor for a film if it gets selected to screen there. Lot of Norwegian political dignitaries, artists saw the film there and their response was terrific. It was again recently shown in Norway at a festival where also it got a good response. It is now selected to screen at other prestigious film festivals in Barcelona, Germany and another one in Norway. Well things have started moving. Lets see where the sequel’s journey leads to…(smiles).
What was the inspiration behind both the movies?
To send across a message of acceptance of human rights which has been ignored for years. To make films, which many may not dare to make, at the same time try to make those films entertaining and simple so that any common man may connect to them.
How did Anilji react to your decision to make Dunno Y series?
Before we started Dunno Y 1, he wanted to hear the narration of the entire script. He had said that if he likes the script then only he will allow us to go ahead with the film. When he heard the narration, he loved the script and after that he never interfered in any creative aspect of the film. He is proud that Dunno Y has won so many awards and has reached internationally without any push from his end or any corporate or Godfather from the industry. He liked my acting very much especially my introduction scene and my emotional scenes. Now he is looking forward to see what we have made this time (smiles).
Where no actors in India dared Yuvraaj and you have fully gone ahead and shot some really steamy scenes how apprehensive were you while shooting such scenes?
I believe if you are an actor and after reading the script you have agreed to do a film, then it’s your responsibility to follow the vision of the director. If the script requires steamy scenes then one should go ahead and do it, because when you are performing those scenes you are not yourself, you are the character you are portraying. Though its natural, while shooting such shots at times hesitations and nervousness occurs, but then I keep on reminding myself that I am an actor and it’s part of my job.
My next release is a crazy comedy called Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. I am playing an interesting character which you can say is a grown up version of Dennis the Menace (smiles). It stars some very fine actors like Anupam Kher, Vijay Raaz, Dilip Joshi, Makarand Deshpande, Govind Namdev, Prem Chopra, Kulraj Randhawa, Sneha Ullal and Moushumi Chatterjee’s daughter Meghaa Chatterjee. Couple of more projects are also in the pipeline.
Do we see Dunno Y3 happening (winks)?
I don’t know! As we had never planned Dunno Y2, similarly we have no idea about Dunno Y3 at least for now (winks). But, if fans of this franchise want more of it, then you never know it may happen (smiles broadly).
Okay enough of serious question answering… let’s move on to something fun.
Great! So what are we going to do?
After making such controversial movies, you should be the last one to worry about such things (laughs out loud together)
Okay (rubbing his hands together) Come on shoot!
Simple, I am going to ask you few questions for which you have to answer in one word (winks).
Okay (laughs) hope you won’t put me into trouble (winks).
Who is the most good-looking male actor in India?
Mine too (winks). If given a chance which actor other than Yuvraaj would you like to cast as your gay lover in Dunno Y3?
Ranbir Kapoor (winks).
Aha! As Aryan who is your dream date other than Ashley in real life scenario?
Aryan has been flirtatious in both the parts. In part two his dream date is Ricky Martin (smiles).
One Night Stand or Committed relationship?
What do you prefer a dream dinner date or a long drive with your lover?
Dream dinner date.
Wow (smiles) now the last question. Drumroll…Who is your favorite author?
I am sitting with him now (laughs).
Floored (smiles)! All the best for your movie Kapil and I am sure we get to see in many more movies portraying varied characters and I am sure you will definitely shine out as always.
So girls and guys, brace yourself as Dunno Y2 is going to hit the screens on 17th September at a theatre near you. Please go and watch it!