EXCLUSIVE: Kunal Kemmu on playing Abdul in Kalank, his camaraderie with Varun Dhawan and the climax scene

In a quick telephonic conversation, Kunal Kemmu spoke about his character Abdul in Kalank, the complexities of it, his reaction to all the rave reviews and his camaraderie with Varun Dhawan aka Zafar, with whom he shared the maximum screen space in the film. Read on.
EXCLUSIVE: Kunal Kemmu on playing Abdul in Kalank, his camaraderie with Varun Dhawan and the climax sceneEXCLUSIVE: Kunal Kemmu on playing Abdul in Kalank, his camaraderie with Varun Dhawan and the climax scene
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Karan Johar's dream project Kalank opened to a good first day opening, in fact the highest this year, despite receiving mixed reviews. Starring Varun Dhawan, Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi Sinha, Aditya Roy Kapur, Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri Dixit and Kunal Kemmu in pivotal roles, the movie is a partition drama which explores the eternity of love stories. Kunal, who was seen in a special appearance role as Abdul in the movie, is also ironically one of the best characters in the movie. We caught up with Kunal in a quick telephonic chat about his character Abdul, the complexities of it, his reaction to all the rave reviews and his camaraderie with Varun Dhawan aka Zafar, with whom he shared the maximum screen space in the film. 

Over to Kunal:

People over the internet and in person have been raving about how good you are as Abdul in Kalank. Not just that, people wished you had more screen space in the movie. Your reaction to such adulation?

Every actor works to get validation like this and praise like this and I am very very happy. I am also thankful to Karan because he is the person who thought that I should do this part. He said, "This is the part and he may not be the main guy but he is a very interesting character" and I was like, 'really, are you sure?' Kudos to him because no one was seeing me in such an intense and serious role because I was doing only comedies. Somewhere in his head he thought that I would be right, and even Abhishek Varman, the director resonated with it. So I was like why not? let's do it. Of course, at that point I did not think this is the kind of response the movie will generate. I feel blessed and happy about it because it stood out in whatever it had. People have liked it and I am very ecstatic about it. 

What about people hoping you had more screen space? 

(Laughs) I think that is a better place to be in rather than be in a place where people are like 'I expected so much and I wish it was less of it.'

While the audiences are loving it, how did your family react to the performance? 

They have always been supportive but I have to say this that they are also very honest with their opinions if they don't like my work. But luckily that's rarely happened and even in this case, Karan and myself and nobody else had seen me in such a character, different makeup, kohl eyes, then again when it comes to the role because he is introduced as this righteous guy in the beginning and later in the second half he comes in his own, a greyer side to him. But, family wise, they have always been supportive and they were like, 'hey, its great' and I was like, 'thanks' (laughs). But I think it is much more validation when it comes from people you don't expect. It is emotional gratification when you see all the love you get from the audience. I am very happy that I am in this space today. 


A post shared by Kunal Kemmu (@khemster2) on

You spend the maximum time with Varun on sets given you shared the most screen time with him. Did the off-screen bond translate on-screen?

Of course, I have spent a lot of time with Varun on sets and off sets, and I think I really get along with him and I really enjoy doing my scenes with him. With Varun, he is like the constant source of encouragement. He is a very entertaining person to be around and very vocal about the things he feels. I have known him and am comfortable with him.

What about the climax scene (not giving out spoilers here)...? Did it come as a surprise to you about Abdul's reaction and action?

We shot the climax scenes towards the end, and hence, there was so much comfort. We talked about it, about what should we do, about how as characters what place we are in and everything else. I don't know but when I was narrated about Abdul and what his camaraderie with Zafar is like, I somehow saw it coming what happens in the climax. I had it in the mind that he will be in pain because he is not a dark person as such, he is a conflicted person so to say. 

Was the atmosphere on sets as tense as the scene?

No, actually to be honest, I had a very honest and clean thought and I have to say that it is such a beautiful moment. Kudos to the writers and directors for that. When Abhishek narrated the scene to me, it was not like an acting instruction but it came across as that. We did the scene it in like 1-2 takes, we had like 5-6 minutes to shoot that before sunrise, and we did it and that is why there is so much rawness to it. I mean if we had given too much thought, maybe it wouldn't be effective as it is right now. 

Tell us what do you think of Kalank as a movie and the strength or weaknesses of Abdul?

As an audience, I would never be able to judge the film because we are all so close to it, as actors. But what hooked me to Abdul was the simplicity and complexity that he had. Primarily, I really wanted to do a part which if not as dark but as intense as Abdul, and I thought it was an interesting part where even though not many scenes witnesses a long journey. Every scene, he is a different person. 



A post shared by Kunal Kemmu (@khemster2) on

Now with you being flooded with love and adulation for Abdul, would we see you in more intense roles going forward?

Honestly, it was not like a conscious effort to only do comedies or not do dark characters but I was never offered a negative part before. It was not like I was consciously pulling away from it. I got this opportunity, I saw merit in it and I took it. Moving forward too there is no strategy. It is not like now I should only do intense part. I have a comedy which is coming in two months and then I have Malang. So, I am not trying to strategise my choices. I am only doing work which I think I will enjoy doing. 

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only kunal was good, lol what about the leads they were very bad to say the least

I think Kunal's picture should also have been a part of the kalank poster . Also he should have been a part of kalank promotions . He had an interesting n very pivotal role in the movie. Intact his screen presence was much more and more impressive than Sanjay Dutt himself.

He is a good actor. But kalank was a headache. How did Varun and Aliya signed this movie

HE is brilliant actor but sidelined for nepos

2019 ki Highest opening mili hai Kalank ko.. Kya flop flop kart hai? No one like Varun and Alia and Kunal ki toh life hi ban gayi.. he did a good job as Abdul

I wonder if Nepo Papa still believes "Nepotism Rocks"???...Oh yes he will next be shoving Janvi down the throats of moviegoers.

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