By hook or by crook
Kumar Gaurav hopes to impress in Kaante
The face might have aged, but it still has the same cute, chocolate-boy look.
Meet, once again, Kumar Gaurav. More than two years after the late Mazhar Khan's eminently forgettable Gang, Gaurav is back with Sanjay Gupta in the slick flick Kaante.
He is in good company. His brothers-in-arms in this remake of Quentin Tarantino's violent Reservoir Dogs are Amitabh Bachchan, Sanjay Dutt, Sunil Shetty, Mahesh Manjrekar and Lucky Ali.
The six play a group of immigrants who plan a daring bank robbery. Shot entirely in Los Angeles with in-sync sound and an all-American crew, the film is slated to hit the screens in the last week of July or early August.
Gaurav, whose careergraph spiralled down after his successful debut film Love Story with Vijayta Pandit, has many expectations from Kaante. "I play Andy, a computer expert," he says, about his role. Andy is one of the six crooks.
"The film is unique because it has no hero," he says, pre-empting any question on the relevance of his role in the film. "It is not as if Amitabh Bachchan is the gang leader and we work under him. It is about six characters who have grey shades to their personality."
If Gaurav is to be believed, the film has an international look to it --- "in the way it has been shot, the pace of the story, the shooting in Panavision, the sync sound, and the fact that it has no heroine to muddle matters."
Kaante was shot on a 40-day schedule, and Gaurav is all praise for the all-American crew: "We have to learn how Hollywood operates, their discipline and organisation skills. We learnt a lot there." He believes Kaante will be a new experience for the Indian audience, too. "It is such a slick caper that viewers are sure to enjoy it," he says.
As for himself, he hopes filmmakers will offer him mature roles with defined characterisation. "I obviously cannot play a college kid; what I would love to do is mature love stories."
The last time Gaurav had a semblance of a hit was in 1986 with Naam, where he starred with brother-in-law Sanjay Dutt. All expectations resting on the son of romantic hero Rajendra Kumar, who gave 25 hits in a row, have remained unfulfilled.
But as a child, Gaurav never had any contact with the film world, although he accompanied his dad for some of his shoots at hill-stations. "My dad did not encourage us to hang out on the sets, so we kept away." Since he was away at boarding schools, he had no contact with the industry in his growing years. So it was not till Gaurav graduated that he realised his passion for movies.
He then assisted his father's good friend and costar Raj Kapoor on the sets of Satyam Shivam Sundaram. "It changed my life. I got addicted to films. Watching all the actors I suddenly realised that is what I wanted to do in life." When his father got to know of his son's wishes, he sent Gaurav to train with Roshan Taneja for six months. At the end of which Kumar senior called director Rahul Rawail and asked him for a screen test.
Rawail directed Gaurav in Love Story , under his father's banner of Aryan Films. In three hours, the shy, unassuming Gaurav became the national heartthrob. "I still cannot believe it," says the actor recalling his moment of recognition. "I went inside the theatre for the premiere in New Delhi and everything was alright. When I came out people were pulling my hands, my clothes, women were trying to grab me, someone was shaking my hands, photographers were going berserk. I did not know what hit me."
Gaurav says, "I got loads of fan mail, but there was much less exposure for actors at the time. Besides I was busy working. I would leave my home at 9 am for my shoots and return late at night. There was hardly any opportunity to interact with fans."
He continues, "The situation was different then. Actors were supposed to be aloof, distance themselves from crowds. Nowadays, there is no mystery to an actor. A star should have an aura around him or her, and not expose himself to every Tom, Dick and Harry. Where is that mysticism left when actors are endorsing everything from banians to oils and doing stage shows every now and then?"
With success came offers galore for Gaurav --- all sounding like the original. He refused all of them. "The industry has a herd mentality. Something works and everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon," he says.
The films he later worked in --- Dil Tujhko Diya, Lovers, All Rounder and Jurrat (his father's production) --- did not work. "I hoped at least the big names would make great films, but they were hoping to succeed by hitchhiking on my success," he admits candidly.
That continued till Mahesh Bhatt's Naam. Gaurav produced the movie. And although it was one of Bhatt's more critically acclaimed movies, it did nothing for him. He was stuck with nondescript films like Goonj, Aaj, Siyaasat, Phool and Sautela Bhai, which did not trouble the box-office much.
He also attempted a few telefilms like Sikander and Chocolate. But he put his production plans on the backburner when father Rajendra Kumar fell sick and was in and out of hospitals for the next three years.
More recently, Gaurav has moved on to newer pastures, away from films. One of them is Island Holidays, a travel company and a general sales agency for a Maldives resort. The star and his team are promoting the island paradise which he fell in love with after heading there on scuba diving holidays.
Two other ventures are Aryan Info Media (for Internet telephony), and Saberpoint India (IT services). Gaurav also has plans to make animation films and might get into the director's chair.
For now, Kumar Gaurav is keeping his fingers crossed.
India News Feature Service