'I don't feel underrated but underutilised,' says Kunal Khemu
Photo/Instagram/Kunal Kemmu

New Delhi: Like every actor in Bollywood, Kunal Khemu has also seen ups and downs in his career but what keeps him going is the appreciation he has received from the audiences. Kunal feels content with his journey in the industry but at the same time, he believes that his potential as an actor is still untapped.

"Today, I don't feel underrated but under-utilised. But at the same time, I have a different outlook towards things. I feel that I have been doing this for a long time and still doing it. I want to continue doing it for a very long time," the actor said. "On one side, I can feel that I do deserve more and I should have got more but at the same time, I'm thankful for what I have because I could have very well been a forgotten memory. I have realised that the only thing I can do is to keep working on myself," he added.

Kunal's tryst with Hindi cinema began in the 1990s when he started acting as child artiste with Mahesh Bhatt's "Sir", opposite Atul Agnihotri, Pooja Bhatt, Naseeruddin Shah, and Paresh Rawal. Over the years, he featured in many critically-acclaimed movies such as "Hum Hai Rahi Pyaar Ke", "Zakhm", "Bhai" and "Dushman".

In 2005, it was again Bhatt that launched Kunal as a lead hero with his 2005 production "Kalyug". He followed it up with films like "Traffic Signal" and "Superstar", before venturing into comedies like "Dhol", "Golmaal 3" and "Go Goa Gone". The 37-year-old actor said even today, there are people who would mistake him for a newcomer as he sports the same nervous look ahead of his film's release.

"There are so many people who have said that I feel like a newcomer because whenever my film comes in one or two years, then I have the same nervousness. I think people have given me a lot of love. It has not translated into me getting parts in big films that some people and I also believe that I deserve. But I have always got love from whoever has watched my films. I have got my recognition from them. What would be more detrimental to me is someone saying, 'I didn't like you in that film'," Kunal said.

He currently features in "Lootcase", a film that, the actor insists, was made for theatres but due to the coronavirus pandemic, was released on streamer Disney+ Hotstar. "'Lootcase' was not made with the intent of releasing it on an OTT platform. The energies associated with it are entirely theatre-centric. When we were making the film, we imagined that the audiences will be enjoying it in a cinema hall. When we watch a film with a bigger, then that energy and that atmosphere is entirely different. Somewhere we will miss that," he said.

Kunal, however, is also very well aware of the positives of launching a movie on a streamer. "There is a level playing field on the OTT because the content does not have a lifespan like they do on the theatres or on the television. A film won't be available for just a week or two but it is there forever. Whenever a person feels like, he or she can watch the movie."

A film can also avoid the usual trappings of the industry that is mostly concerned about the numbers it amasses on its opening day, the actor added. "The film industry is still run by the whole formula of box office success. People are concerned about the opening of their film as that would decide the future of an actor and a director. Such a scenario is not there on OTT as you would never know about the fate of a film. It could be a big hit or not in theatres," Kunal said.

The film, directed by Rajesh Krishnan, features Kunal as a lower middle class guy who finds a bag loaded with money. What he doesn't know is that a corrupt politician, an underworld don, and a cop are also after that bag. Besides him, the film also features Gajraj Rao, Vijay Raaz, Ranvir Shorey, and Rasika Dugal. It started streaming on Disney+ Hotstar from July 31.

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