The actor has progressed from acting to script writing, choreographing and more for his upcoming film Crazy Cukkad Family
Kushal comes across as a positive actor, who knows how to take rejection in his stride. He is someone who is extremely restless and needs to do several things at a time. The actor claims that he is okay not being a master at one trade as long as he gets to be a jack of several. BollywoodLife caught up with Kushal Punjabi to find out more about his new film, his journey on television and Bollywood, camps in telly town, the lowest point in his career, his previous break up, the new found love and more. Read excerpts from the interview...
Your last film came out in 2007, what took you so long to come back to the movies?
I don't have a Godfather in the Bollywood industry. I came in at a very early age and didn't know how the industry really works. I hold myself responsible for making certain mistakes in my film career. It's not so much as the films but the roles that I did. I have worked with UTV, Dharma Productions and Excel Entertainment - which are some of the dream production houses to work with. I always thought the better actor you are the better roles you get and one day you will land up in a leading role. I loved my role in Lakshya - it was a cameo, I loved my role in Goal although it was chopped, but none of it was ever a lead. I was never approached for a parallel lead or negative leads. And the ones I got the offers for were just not good enough.
So how did Crazy Cukkad Family happen?
Well I have written the story. I am a very restless soul; I just couldn't sit at home. That's when I began writing this story about a crazy family. I never imagined it to be a film. I have a friend, who is a music composer, Suhash Shetty, who loved it. He said the story had potential. But both of us couldn't do much with it because no one would take us seriously. Then we met Ritesh Menon, who was the assistant director to Santosh Sivan. He said the story is really nice and said that we could make it. So we wrote the script, characters and showed it to two producers. They loved the script but asked for a little time. Then I went to France for a shoot and I got this call from Ritesh saying that Prakash Jha has loved it and has agreed to produce. The movie was first called Parivaar Times and then finally Crazy Cukkad Family.
So how long did this whole process take?
Actually, ever since Prakashji came on board it went very fast. The story idea, however, was eight years old. We worked on a few more drafts to fit the commercial aspect of the film. This is the first time I got to work behind the camera. I was assisting in direction, productions, story and scripting - I got to learn a lot. Someone asked me at that time; why I did not cast myself in a hero-heroine film? Now that I know the dynamics of what goes into making movies, I would not cast me as a hero because it is not economically viable. When I say me, I mean anyone with a non-filmy background. Maybe the next film I’ll cast myself.
What are your expectations with the film?
It's going to do very well with the family crowd; fortunately India has a lot of those. It's a comedy film with very emotional shades.
Don't you think by releasing your film this week, you openly challenged films like Alone and I?
Of course there will be competition. But I think we will go very well with word of mouth. Alone will keep the children and older generation away from the screens. We cater to almost every one. Comedy is a drastic feature unlike horror, the audiences for horror are fixed, and I will be seeing it. Crazy Cukkad Family is a film you will not go alone to watch.
Now that you've got the taste of being behind the camera, will you ever consider switching from acting completely?
I have done lots of jobs in my life but acting completes me. Acting will always be around, I love writing and ideating it is a part of me that I wish to keep exploring.
Will you ever consider going back to doing just television?
I think I’ve had my fill of daily soaps and TV. For now I wish to focus on either miniseries or weekend shows, if available. It is easy for me to do daily soaps and tell myself that I should join the bandwagon for the sake of money and exposure. In the past as well, I have never over exposed myself. I never let the character overtake my real name. Everything is in moderation. I also teach adventure sports and scuba diving. I do a lot of things because you get only one life. However, I have great respect for TV and the work I have done.
It's a very mixed bag of actors in Crazy Cukkad Family. How was it shooting with such a dysfunctional family?
When we started the casting process, we thought a lot. We decided to go the unconventional way, but didn't have a big budget to play around with. It started with Rs 2 crore and went up to Rs 3 crore. Eventually everyone who came on board just created magic. We didn't know how it would turn out, but it was great.
Bollywood has camps; does television follow the same norm?
I do not know if there is a camp per say, but when you work with a production house and team you automatically bond with them depending on how the TRP goes. It is relationship based; they like to work with you again and again. However, I have never been a part of any camp, although I have worked with Ekta Kapoor on one or two shows and even though she has been a friend before she started her career, it was never a camp and Ekta has never favoured me.
Who are your closest friends in the industry?
Chetan Hansraj is a very dear friend. I am great friends with Nivedita Basu, Karan V Grover, Simran Mundi etc...
What next after Crazy Cukkad Family?
I am doing an Indo-French movie; the shoot will start in a few months. It is called Love is Everywhere. I am playing the lead and it is being shot in New York, Paris, Genève, Dubai, Abu Dhabi. This just happened; I didn't even audition for it.
If not an actor, what would you be?
I think I would have been a pilot or anyone in uniform.
Who according to you is the reigning star in Television?
In Television I would say Ronit Roy among the men and Sakshi Tanwar among the women. I do not know much about the others.
What was the highest point of your career?
I think I am yet to achieve that feat.
What was the lowest point in your career?
I think it was me realising the mistakes I made in the first run. It was a low point and then it gave me the energy to pick myself up again and try.
What are you obsessed about?
I am obsessed about travel, adventure sports and dancing.
What turns you on and off in women?
I get turned off by overly feminist behaviour in women. Someone who misuses women empowerment to their benefit really puts me off. I like girls who are intelligent, who love to explore, who can dance and are opinionated.
Tell us one thing you will never do onscreen.
I will never harm animals onscreen even if the script demands it. I do not want to endorse it.
One criticism about you that you couldn't digest.
That I have a lot of attitude and starry attitude. I am nothing like that.
One rumour about you that made you laugh?
I had heard once that I was apparently gay.
Describe your perfect date.
My perfect date would be a bike ride just across Amby Valley where they serve great breakfast. And then go for a swim. My ideas of dates are also adventurous. On my first anniversary, I had thought we'd go on a Himalayan trek.
So did you do it?
We never lasted for a year.
Are you seeing anyone right now?
I am in a complicated relationship. So I can't say yes or no. I am seeing someone; she doesn't live here. She is not Indian.
One secret about you that no one knows.
I am spiritual but I'm not religious at all.
One movie genre you like and your favourite movie.
I like horror movies - Exorcist and The Ring are a two of my favourites.
Stay tuned to BollywoodLife for the latest scoops and updates from Bollywood, Hollywood, South, TV and Web-Series.
Click to join us on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram. Also follow us on Facebook Messenger for latest updates.