Three years after its conception, Blank has finally hit theatres, and debutant actor Karan Kapadia is all excited about the release. In an exclusive chat with Team Box Office India, he talks about working on the film, the importance of staying humble, his upcoming project and more
Congratulations on your first film!
Thank you so much!
Was acting always the plan?
Yeah, it always was. I had decided this was it when I was 11 years old and I started working towards it when I was 15. It was always on the cards, I just didn’t know how to go about it. I discovered that slowly, year after year, as I started my journey. It was a slow journey, arduous sometimes, but it has been well worth it.
In an interview, you said that Blank is not a launch but a break. Why did you say so?
Because I believe that Blank was a combination of lack of opportunities and good luck.
Is that so?
Yes! When people are launched, they know they are going to be doing a film, sometimes even a year or two in advance. They are packaged accordingly. They get photographed. They are shown to the public. People know who they are before their film comes out. In my case, it was the complete opposite. It was not a launch; it was just something that fortunately came my way at a time when there was a lack of opportunities. To be completely honest, I took it up because there was no other opportunity. I would have taken up anything. I’m lucky that it just happened to be a great, unique script with a great director whom I knew from back in the day. Behzad (Khambata) and I were assistants together on the sets of Boss. That is why I say that it has been a combination of good luck and a lack of opportunities. Hence, I would not call it a launch; it is just a break that I got.
You come from an eminent film family. Did you get any golden words of advice before you got your first film?
My family has always given me very basic advice, but I think that is also the most effective advice. It is applicable to people in other fields as well. They told me to remain humble, keep my head down and keep working hard. They told me that if I am a good person and I am good at what I do, then opportunities and work will keep coming my way. At the time, I took it in from one ear and let it out from the other. But it stayed with me subconsciously to some extent, which is why I am still talking about it. Ten years after they gave me this advice, it has stayed with me. They told me to give 100 per cent irrespective of what I do.
You play a suicide bomber in Blank. When you play a character like this, how do you set your own feelings aside so that they do not come in the way of your craft?
I am not a method actor. I never really stay in character when I am not shooting. I only think about my character and the film when I am on set. As soon as we wrap and when I am not working, I don’t really think about it or dwell on it so much. I do my own thing and I detach from it. For me, it is important to enjoy what I do and if I am living my character all the time, I won’t be able to do that. I signed Blank in 2016 and we started shooting for it in 2018. So if I had stayed in character, I think I would have driven everybody a bit mad. (Laughs) It is good than I am not a method actor.
For a character like this, there is no reference point. So how did you internalise him and enter his mind?
You are right, there is no reference point. Every film or TV show that has been made on suicide bombers shows us a bomb wrapped in duct tape, wired to a trigger. The concept of Blank in itself is completely unique. In the film, I have a bomb attached to my heartbeat and if you remove it, it explodes. It is a fictitious concept. I don’t think there is any scientific basis to it. That said, we have tried to make it as logical and intelligent as possible so that the audience does not feel like we are taking them for a ride. The film has a fictitious concept and a character caught in a unique situation that no other character has faced before. So you cannot have a reference point, adapt someone else’s performance or be influenced by something else. For me, what helped the most was the fact that I had a two-year period before I started shooting. In those two years, I had tonnes of conversations with Behzad about how he saw the character playing out and where he saw the film going. That prep time really helped me build my character from scratch.
What was your idea of an ideal debut?
The kind where people pay me. That would be the ideal debut. Like I said, opportunities were hard to come by. So the fact that I got an opportunity to begin with, made Blank an ideal debut. To get a debut is my ideal debut.
You share screen space with Sunny Deol in the film, and Akshay Kumar features along with you in the song, Ali Ali. What was your learning from these seasoned actors?
It is nothing in terms of the craft itself. I do not learn or pick up anything in terms of how they act and perform their scenes. For me, it is the little tidbits. It is their punctuality, their work ethic and how they conduct themselves on set with the rest of the crew. Those are the things I imbibed from them. When you talk about Akshay sir, nobody will say that Rustom mein kya kaam kiya unhone! They will talk about how he is up early and how nice he is to his staff and his crew. Those are the things people remember you for apart from good work. As far as acting is concerned, everybody’s process and approach is different. What works for them will not necessarily work for me. It is hard to take specific advice from them. But it is about picking up these little things, like being disciplined and being professional.
Blank is a rather unconventional debut for an actor. You play a grey character in the film. Is there any fear of getting typecast?
There is a fear of getting typecast with any role that you do. Even if you do a romantic film and then you do twelve other things, you could get typecast as a romantic hero. I believe that I am versatile and it is important for other people to see me in that light as well. I want to do different things, but like I said, there is a possibility of being typecast. At the same time I do believe that if you want to break the mould, you have to learn to work within it. I am ready to do that because I am realistic. So I will just do whatever good work comes my way. I do not really think about the genre or the character too much.
It needs to strike a chord with you…
Yes, and it needs to be the kind of content that I would watch myself. And I watch everything, be it comedy, thriller, horror or sci-fi. That is the kind of stuff I want to be part of. As long as I can contribute something meaningful to it, I will definitely do it.
So you want to take it slow and go with the flow?
Yeah, I will see what comes my way and see where I can contribute. Hopefully if my work speaks for itself and I am lucky enough, then I will get good opportunities. So that is the hope!
Have you watched Blank yet?
Yes, I have. I watched it a week ago.
What was it like watching yourself on the big screen?
I do not particularly enjoy watching myself. There are a lot of actors who do not. I cringe a little when I watch myself. It is weird, but obviously you have to watch yourself to gauge where you have gone wrong. This is the least uncomfortable I’ve been while watching myself. I have watched myself before too, as I have done some short films. Blank turned out to be better than I expected. Kudos to Behzad, who is the real star of the show, and R Dee, a first-time DoP, who shot our film! They have done a phenomenal job. They make you look better than you deserve to look. I am quite happy with it; I am proud of the film. It has come out exactly the way we wanted it to.
Are you open to exploring other platforms too, now that the digital space is booming?
Sure! Behzad, Pranav (Adarsh),
who is one of the co-writers, and I are developing something for the OTT platform. It is a sci-fi concept. It is
Will you act in it?
I would like to act in it. It also depends on somebody buying it and who they see in it. So yes, I would love to act in it. Even if I don’t, I think it is something that deserves to be made. It is a concept that I am very passionate about. I have been working on it for a really long time. It is extremely relevant to the things going on in our country right now. I definitely want it to be made, whether I am in it or not.
What’s the plan after this? Where do you see yourself five years from now?
I really do not know. The day before I signed Blank, I didn’t know that I would actually end up signing it. That is how most things have been in my life; things just happen. I am the sort of person who takes things one day at a time. That is what I will keep doing. I will focus on the things that are in front of me, and right now, that is promoting Blank. Before this, my focus was working on the film. After the film, I will focus on whatever comes my way, as and when that happens. I do not think ahead too much. You can make as many plans as you want to, but it is not necessary that they will materialise. So what is the point of getting worked up and thinking ki paanch saal mein yeh karna hi hai? I am not that kind of person. I am cutting myself some slack as far as that is concerned.
What do you want people to take away from Blank?
We take great pride in the fact that it is not the kind of film through which we are trying to drive home some sort of agenda. In a world of remakes and sequels, here we are with a fresh and completely unique film. For me, Blank is like a breath of fresh air. There is no jingoism. It is just an entertaining film with a lot of drama and incredible performances by the rest of the star cast. What we have shown in the trailer is only a small glimpse of what is actually within the story. There is a lot more in the film. I think people will be really satisfied with what they see. They are living in a time where high-concept content is working. I don’t think there could be a better time to do a film like Blank.
What is your headspace like, as the film has just released?
There is this weird combination of nausea and excitement. It is crazy. I am obviously nervous. I have worked on this film for three years. And it all comes down to essentially a weekend. That is a little nerve-wracking. But on the flip side, I have that excitement also that it is coming out after three years. People will finally get to see what we’ve been working on for so long. There is more excitement than nervousness. After I saw the finished product, I was a little more at ease. (Smiles)