In a recent chat with OTTplay, Kulkarni got candid about his journey in acting so far and more.
Atul Kulkarni (via Instagram/Atul Kulkarni)
Atul Kulkarni is one of the versatile and finest actors in Indian cinema. With a lot of critically acclaimed films in Bollywood, the actor has been seen in numerous projects, across languages such as Marathi, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and more. The actor was recently seen as a police officer in A Thursday. And now, he is gearing up for the release of Disney+ Hotstar's Rudra.
In a recent chat with OTTplay, the actor talked about A Thursday, and his experience with the cast and crew of the film. Kulkarni also got candid about his journey in acting so far and more.
Excerpts are below:
What intrigued you the most about the story of A Thursday?
The way it has been told. It's a suspense thriller, but it is not just a thriller. The way it proceeds is how a sweet-looking teacher takes her own students hostage. That's where the story begins. And I'm sure after people have seen the trailer, they have this question why do Naina, the character that Yami plays, do that? And then, of course, she says that she wants to talk to Javed Khan (essayed by Kulkarni) and only him, and she asks Alvarez (Neha) to call him. There are many more twists and turns to the level that she even asks the Prime Minister to get involved. We then realise that this is much bigger than just taking the children hostages for money, which intrigued me.
Tell us about your character, what attracted you to take the character up?
Though my character Javed Khan is a police officer, he is a very sensitive person. He is extremely sensitive towards children. He has to deal with a lot of conflict with a senior officer Kathy (Neha). With Kathy and other senior officers, he has to deal with Naina, the kidnapper. So, he is fighting on multiple levels. He is making sure that the children are safe, and he is absolutely not sure that they will be safe as Naina threatens to kill them in alphabetical order of their names. So, I think he is a character who is working under tremendous pressure and trying to salvage the situation. So it is a very interesting character for me.
People anticipated it to be similar to Nasseerdudin’s A Wednesday, how much would you agree to it?
Absolutely not. That is why I accepted A Thursday. It's a completely independent film.
How was it to shoot in a confined space?
The story demands it because of the hostage situation. The more challenging thing was that the outdoor scenes were completely shot in rain. And rain is one of the most important characters in the film. In any film, it is very difficult when you have to shoot for so long in the rain because there are so many restrictions. So that was extremely challenging but Behzad (Khambata) along with the production team, really pulled it off. We shot in Roscommon studios. And it got even more difficult because of COVID-19. We erected the set and when we were about to start the shooting, the second lockdown happened. We had to stop then. Hats off to the production guys - RSVP team and Blue Monkey team and Behzad, of course.
Having worked in different languages and mediums, how do you decide on saying yes to a script?
Story. It's very simple, in a way, and very difficult. Because I do believe that we all go into theatres to listen to a story. That is the basic thing. If we don't like the story, whoever the star is, whoever the director is, how huge the production is, if we don't get involved in the story, we just don't like it. So for me as well, I think, as an actor, I need to like the story. And then, of course, the storyteller, the director, because it completely depends on him how he tells the story.
Let us know about the development of City of Dreams 3.
I don't really have any idea. You must ask Nagesh Kukunoor (the creator) or Hotstar.
What did you find so interesting about Laal Singh Chaddha that you decided to go behind the camera and script this film?
We are releasing Laal Singh Chaddha in April and there are a lot of things to talk about this film but I would really hold it till the release.
You have completed 22 years of your film career and have made more than 100 films. How your journey has been till now?
Brilliant, because I started my career at the age of 35. Hey Ram, my first film was released when I was 35. I come from a small town, where no one would have expected film actors to come from. And I didn't have any background. I started with theatre. So having given all that background and the time when I started, there was not much television. There were no Marathi films, there were only Hindi films and I got a chance to do a film like Hey Ram for the first time, such a huge film with such great actors and director, like Kamal Hassan. And then getting Chandni bar, I absolutely couldn't have asked for more. I'm still working after 22 years in this field and I can just be thankful to my fate for this.
When can we expect you and Geetanjali Mam ( Kulkarni's wife) to appear in a project together?
I'm waiting for it for almost 30 years. And I don't know why and how, but we have never been cast together. So I'm also looking forward to it. I just request the directors who know both of us to cast us at some point. I don't know if Geetanjali would want that, but I would definitely look forward to it.
What are your upcoming projects?
Rudra will be coming soon on Hotstar.