The former editor-producer and Family Man actor is now gearing up for his next with Raj and DK, Guns and Gulabs
Remember the terrorists who laid siege on a hospital and gunned down the hot-headed and trigger-happy Force One officer Imran Pasha (Kishore) in season 1 of The Family Man? The terrorist who shot Pasha, Bilal, had a cameo lasting all of 15 minutes, but the sequence was one of the most impactful ones of the show, so much so that Ashmith Kunder, who played him, says that the role opened up avenues for him as an actor.
When you hear the name, especially the surname, it may ring a few bells for those who ardently follow Bollywood. Ashmith is the younger brother of editor-director Shirish Kunder, who is married to renowned choreographer-filmmaker Farah Khan. Despite these big Bollywood ties, though, Ashmith, came up the hard way while making baby steps in the film industry. From knocking on doors of various editing and sound studios for an opportunity to assist and learn, with very little success, to finally cracking it and turning editor himself, then producer and now actor, he’s had an eventful journey.
Now that he is an actor, though, Ashmith says that acting had always fascinated him. “When we moved from Bengaluru to Mumbai years ago, the school I was at already had established groups that would put up plays, etc. As the newcomer, no one was going to give me a shot. So, I thought, why not do something myself. I got permission to have a new group and wrote a play. But to really sell the idea, I had to make sure that the lead roles went to the popular kids in school. I would have a role too, but not the most important one,” Ashmith, who is in Bengaluru currently, reminisces.
With his business interests as an editor and ad filmmaker firmly set, Ashmith says that he can now afford to focus on his acting career. “My debut as an actor, incidentally, was not Family Man. I played the lead role of an aghori tantrik in Agham, which has done the film festival circuit and should head to OTT soon. Agham had made it to the Cairo International Film Festival. As someone who has been on juries of film festivals in technical categories, the moment I received my invitation to the Cairo fest as an actor is something I can never forget,” he tells us.
After The Family Man, Ashmit’s next had him playing a one-legged Naxalite on the AltBalaji original, It Happened in Calcutta, which came on Zee5. Guns and Gulabs, which sees him reunite with the makers of The Family Man, Raj & DK, will be his next acting gig and while Ashmit is tight-lipped about the role or even his look, which he says was specifically designed for the show, he does tell us that he has a string of projects lined up in Hindi, both in the feature film and OTT space. “Interestingly, despite my south Indian roots, most filmmakers see me fit to play typical terrorist characters, like Afghans, etc. I have no qualms taking on violent characters, as long as I am able to ensure that they don’t begin to look and feel the same. But I do think I have a funny bone too and would love to try my hand at a slapstick comedy, for instance. More importantly, I would also like to re-establish my Karnataka roots and do films here. I can speak Kannada, even though it is a little rusty, which I am sure will get better once I spend more time here and do films in the language. It would really make my mother very happy if I were to work in Kannada films too,” he says.
“There are a few feature films that I am committed to do, but can't reveal details, as the projects are not yet officially announced. One is a gangster black comedy which has a unique reverse narrative & an ensemble cast. The second is a Hindi remake of a Malayalam film and a third is a thriller romcom, in which I play the main lead, but it's a female lead driven script. The end game, though, is to turn director at some point. I have been writing scripts and am hopeful of taking one on floors soon enough,” he signs off.