Akarsh Khurana is an actor, screenwriter, theatre artist and entrepreneur. He has written over 20 screen plays. His next directorial, Karwaan, is slated to release on 3rd August.
In conversation with Akarsh Khurana, and here is what he has to say:
Question : Having a look at your trailer, we can make out that the main genre of this film is comedy. And to add, this a road film which is of course, has been shot mainly on the roads. So how did this idea originated in the first place?
Akarsh: I got the basic idea about this film from Bejoy Nambiar who also gets the story credit and the screenplay of the movie has been done by me and Adhir Bhatt. I have acted with Adhir Bhatt earlier in David which was directed by Bejoy Nambiar. So while we were shooting in Ooty he told us about his idea of a film plot about some person receiving a wrong body and his journey to get the right body. We really liked his unusual plot and gradually we started writing its script. So the main idea of this film was given to me by Bejoy.
Question: In a recent tweet, you had mentioned that you are missing Irrfan Khan while you are doing the promotional work for this film. So have you spoken to him recently, if yes, what are the updates about his health?
Akarsh: Its hard to say anything since that was not really what I had asked him when we talked last. He had given me a call after watching the film and he was sounding really good and I wish that it’s a good sign. Hussain had been to London and he said he looked better and well enough. For now we are just hoping for the best and it’s a tough time so I think it should not be talked about so much. But yeah, speaking about his family, they watched the film together with Irrfan and they were really happy after watching it and so was Irrfan as said by Hussain.
Question: So while you were shooting the film, did Irrfan complain about anything regarding to himself?
Akarsh: No, he seemed perfectly fit and alright. And before he was diagnosed, he had even watched the edited version of the film and when we got the news of him being diagnosed, we were taken aback. Moreover, he had done a stunt himself, in which he had to hang out of the car , and we had even suggested a duplicate for the scene but he insisted on trying it himself and he did it really well. So the intensity of our shock increased since he was doing good while shooting.
Question : Speaking about comedy films, this is probably the first comedy film revolving around dead bodies apart from Avanti and Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro. So did you make this film inspired from these movies?
Akarsh: No, not really. Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro is not at all similar to this film. Speaking about the differences, in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, the whole plot was centered upon a dead body while in Karwaan, there is only a premise set on 2 dead bodies and the story focuses on the reconciliation of old friends through the whole journey of seeking the right bodies. So I do not think that there is any kind of inspiration derived from some old film and the idea was completely original. Co-incidently two weeks ago, we came across a news of a guy getting a wrong dead body in UAE on which we had a good laugh.
Question: How did you get an unusual cast like this and was it already planned by you or was it an idea that you got from someone else?
Akarsh: We never imagined that we would have actors like Dulquer and Irrfan in our film’s ensemble cast. So when I met the producers of our film, Ronnie Screwwala and Preity Gupta, Ronnie suggested the idea of getting Irrfan in the film. So we approached Irrfan while he was shooting Hindi Medium in Delhi and the script was read out to him, and the moment it ended, he agreed and said he would do the film which we really didn’t expect and we were shocked and happy at the same place. And speaking about Dulquer, the associate producer of the film recommended him to us, and then, I had watched only one film of Dulquer’s which was Charlie and I loved the film. And the work he had done was something unique and different so I really looked forward to cast him in the film. We met him in Chennai and he is a really nice guy. He took 1 week’s time to think about the script and finally he agreed and Mithila went through an audition process and I have known her from the time when she was doing theatre which is quite a time.
Question: Karwaan is going to clash with Fanney Khan and Mulk on its release. So what do you have to say about this clash of really anticipated films on a same day?
Akarsh: I think that’s not a thing on which we can think and pinder about since there is no point in shifting your film to some other date again and again unless you clash with a film which is massive like Padmaavat . I agree that there is a kind of pressure over us since there are 3 films clashing on the same day. But I am happy because of the fact that these 3 films are somewhat on the same level and we are not getting washed put because of some other big project.
Question: Dulquer Salmaan is a renowned star down south and he seems to be the only south actor after Kamal Hassan whose looks are not particularly like a typical south-indian guy and his accent is not only from the south. What do you have to say on this?
Akarsh: The fact is that he is really good at learning languages. He has also done Tamil and Telugu films apart from Malayalam films and he learnt those languages himself. When we had approached him, we had asked him that how will he manage with speaking Hindi and he said he would do it himself and he did it flawlessly. There was a reading in which we had expected him to commit some minute errors while speaking, but he had done his homework and was ready for his role. And in my opinion, this generation’s trend is changing, everyone is striving and becoming professionally trained in his/her work. And Dulquer too has worked in 3 industries and he understands that he needs to handle his professional life well. Even as a director, I like to keep what I do spontaneous. I had a great working relationship with Irrfan sir and Dulquer and Mithila too were very comfortable to work with.
Question: Coming to you, you do multiple things. You act, you write, and you direct. How do you manage to do all these and how do you handle these many qualities in you?
Akarsh: So, I started with theatre and am a part of a theatre company that’s running from the year 2000 and then in 2003 I started writing Krrish. For me, it has always been simultaneous and its been my way of handling all of my talents. So on 3rd August I have my film Karwaan releasing and on the same day, a play directed by me will release and to add, I haven’t stopped working in theatres and I will not since its like the first love of my life.
Question: Did you decide to do acting or directing because of your father doing it, or was it your entire decision?
Akarsh: The environment around me was obviously like that with my father doing it, but its not exactly the way you said it. Actually, I spent very little time with my father on his shooting sets since I used to find shootings very boring but I spent a considerable amount of time with him in theatre and he was even a very good writer and I have found his writings to be really amazing. And he even instructed me that I should pursue my career once I complete my education first. So the environment around me certainly helped me to learn things.
Question: What gives you satisfaction more – is it directing a film,play, or a web series?
Akarsh: I actually enjoy all three in their own way but what I really do enjoy is to work and interact with different actors. I find it really good to talk to the actors and unfold things that can be learnt or grasped from them so it doesn’t matter if you are directing a film, a play, or a web series.
Question: How long did it take for filming for Karwaan which is a road film and did you have to take any unnecessary takes because of it?
Akarsh: We finished filming the film in 35 days which was undertaken very comfortably because of the great cast that I worked with and we didn’t take too many takes to be honest, since the three of them are really hard working actors. Sometimes, we had to take more takes because of technical issues but I don’t remember any shot that had more than 10 takes.
Question: When you are shooting a road film it becomes much more difficult to film it smoothly since you are constantly moving and shooting. What do you have to say on this?
Akarsh: Yes, we certainly face some challenges since we have to change our locations time to time. There were challenges faced even by the sound designers due to this phenomena, but at last, he managed to do his task and he did it . And talking about filming , I believe that the actors should sense the environment around them while they are acting, so filming around Kerala was really fun and to sum up, every department in the film has done a fantastic job.