'I was playing a rockstar.'
'After three days, I get a script that my character will turn into a lion.'
'I felt I hadn't signed up for this, so I told Ekta about it.'
'Ekta told me, "Beta, na tu important hai na main important hoon. Woh spot wala hai na, usko ghar pe khana khilana hai".'
'She said if she didn't change the content, she would not get TRPs and eventually, her show would shut down.'
'If the show stops, she asked me if I would take these workers home.'
'I said "Let's become the lion".'
IMAGE: Karan and Saanvi Talwar in Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum.
Karan Kundrra made his Bollywood debut in Horror Story.
We saw him next in a small role in Mubarakan, followed by Vikram Bhatt's 1921.
"For me, life is never a destination; it's a journey," says Karan, 'Your life becomes a sum total of experiences."
1921 failed to make an impression, but for Karan, he got a chance to showcase himself.
Karan started his acting journey with television. He has acted in daily soaps, hosted reality shows and roasted people in Roadies.
"In television," says Karan, "We are told abhi ek dedh saal kar lo, uske baad bahut accha ho jayega (Do television for a year-and-a-half, then everything will turn out just great)."
Even though he's done a lot of television, Karan seems disillusioned by it. He tells Rediff.com's Jahnavi Patel why.
Bollywood Horror is disliked by younger audiences who prefer Hollywood Horror. Family audiences don't go for them either. Do you agree?
I would also blame the late 1980s-1990s horror films.
When I was small, I used to watch these films and they were horror and comedy. Some kids laughed, others were scared.
They saw the genre wasn't selling, so they got sex into it. They lost the family audiences then.
I am a big horror film buff.
In the 1990s, there was a film called Lekin, starring Dimple Kapadia. I don't think there is a more beautiful supernatural film made than that.
As a person, who watches cinema and is a part of the movies, I would say that Indian cinema has done some very good supernatural films.
Hollywood has better special effects.
Correct. Mostly, their special effects happen in India.
Their visual effects are done by Indians and Pakistanis.
There are mostly desi people doing the most critical things of their cinema.
Do you think our youth shy away from watching Indian superhero films?
They think of themselves as cool if they know the DC and Marvel superheroes.
I don't blame them because we have given them so much content and exposure of the American system.
Everyone knows who Kim Kardashian is. There are millions of people following her, but what does she do? Nobody knows.
I am not saying stop it, but you have to tell them since childhood that we have a lot in our culture too.
In fact, I am working on something which will bring the Mahabharata back for kids and show it in a cool way.
For example, Krishna's chakra will be a fidget spinner.
IMAGE: Karan and Anil Kapoor. Photograph: Kind courtesy Karan Kundrra/Instagram
Since most of your films have been in the horror space, do you think you miss out on family audiences? Is that why you did Mubarakan?
I don't think like that.
For me, when an Anees Bazmee (Mubarakan director) calls me, I get flashes of his films while talking to him.
Even when I am doing a scene with Anil Kapoor, I am saying the dialogues, but in my head, there are flashes of Mr India.
I am not saying I am star struck, but I have grown up watching them.
When I become old, at least I can say that I loved Anees Bazmee's films and that I was part of one of them.
IMAGE: Karan and Zareen Khan in 1921. Photograph: Kind courtesy Karan Kundrra/Instagram
What is your take on television these days?
There was a time when we used to watch Hum Log, Buniyaad, Nukkad, Shanti... What shows!
We want to make something good now, but from the results we get, we learnt that a show like Naagin is doing very well.
Now, I can't go to Bareilly or some place in the interiors and make aunties understand that this content is not good.
Serials like Buniyaad had content, but they don't want to watch it (now).
They want to cut vegetables and don't want a headache.
Television is going to die a very unfortunate, tragic, death.
People say Ekta Kapoor ulti seedhi cheeze banati rehti hai. Hamne banaya tha show, bada pyaara tha. Nahi chala (People say Ekta Kapoor makes bad shows. We made a nice show, Yeh Kahan Aa Gaye Hum, but it didn't work).
I was playing a rockstar.
After three days, I get a script that my character will turn into a lion.
There's a green screen behind me, and I will turn into a lion in the visual effects.
I felt I hadn't signed up for this, so I told Ekta about it.
So Ekta told me, 'Beta, na tu important hai na main important hoon. Woh spot wala hai na, usko ghar pe khana khilana hai (You and I aren't important. The spotboys need to be fed).'
She said that if she didn't change the content, she would not get TRPs and eventually, her show would shut down.
If the show stops, she asked me if I would take these workers home.
I said 'kahan bana hai sher, chalo (let's become the lion).'
I will get work, but what about those 200 people working in the unit?
IMAGE: Karan and his girlfriend Anusha Dandekar. Photograph: Kind courtesy Karan Kundrra/Instagram
Will you continue doing television?
I am not going away from television.
I am very fortunate that I have got platforms where I can voice my opinions.
Once I had a chotti (ponytail) and some 18, 20 boys copied the hairstyle and sent it to me on Instagram and Snapchat.
The first two minutes, I was very flattered and the third minute, I got scared.
These people are following what I am doing, so now I will have to do things carefully.
I will have to treat my girlfriend (Anusha Dandekar) in a certain way publicly, so that they follow it.
I have to stand up for my sisters and the women in my life, so that they follow it.
If people troll my girlfriend ke kapde nahin pehne dhangeke (she hasn't worn appropriate clothes), should I really care?
I am fortunate that television has given me the reach to make a difference in people's lives.
IMAGE: Karan, Neha Dhupia, Prince Narula and Rannvijay Singha in Roadies X4. Photograph: Kind courtesy Karan Kundrra/Instagram
Will you continue working in television?
Yes. Television should not be looked down upon. We are here only because of that.
I can tell you the names of a lot of film stars who have a lesser following than television actors and maybe earn less than them as well.
But they think it's uncool to be on television.
It's also because of the content we throw out. But that's not our fault.
For me, instead of doing a bad film, I'd rather do television.