While his portrayal of modern day Ram is garnering him accolades, there is more to Kiran Karmarkar than just Om Aggarwal.
Unarguably one of the finest actors on television today, Karmarkar has been in the industry for quite some time now. Currently on screen, he is seen in two shows which although are from same production house Balaji Telefilms, but are quite diverse.
While in his character in Kahaani... stuck on traditional values and joint family customs, he is dependent on his family for every decision, in another (Kkehna Hai Kuch Mujhko) he plays an ambitious go-getter.
indiantelevision.com's Vickey Lalwani caught up with the man on one of his rare leisure moods. Excerpts from the conversation:
Could you trace your journey in the television industry till now?
To begin with, I did a few Marathi plays and serials in '93. Thereafter, I got a chance to do a lots of advertisements. In '97, I took up Safar and Panther for Home TV. From '97 onwards, I became quite a regular with Balaji Telefilms- Itihaas, Padosan, Ghar Ek Mandir, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii and now Kkehna Hai Kucch Mujhko. I think Ghar Ek Mandir was a turning point in my career, where people started recognising and liking me more than ever before. It's taken me some time all right, but I am happy.
Have you avoided taking up any serial other than 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii'?
I did four pilots before the recent Kkehna Hai Mujhko happened. Alas, none of those materialised.
What made you take up 'Kkehna Hai Mujhko'?
Two things. One, Ekta Kapoor offered it to me. Two, the story line is very interesting and real.
The character that I play - Nishchay Kapoor - is an ambitious man, who knows what he wants to achieve in life and meticulously goes about achieving it. He loves his family and works hard to provide a luxurious lifestyle for them. A person of strong beliefs, although he gives everyone a chance to express themselves, he usually has his own way. He believes that he is the head of the family and everybody should treat him with respect.
How did you feel when you first learnt that 'Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii' was taking a 20-year leap?
I thought Ekta Kapoor had taken a very sensible decision. The serial was doing well, so obviously it has to go on. Now if the serial had to go on, how can the life of the characters remain static? Doesn't that move too? And I had no qualms in playing a father. I am matured enough to understand that as life goes on, new people come into your life - children, their cousins, their lovers, their friends. Life 'is' like that. Ekta is not showing anything unreal in Kahaani...
Still, the fact that you'll have to share space...
(Interrupts) The first lesson of acting is to respect the co-actors' space in a frame; a good actor should avoid display of off-screen insecurities and on-screen histrionics in order to grab the attention and hog the limelight.
And why should I, or any other actor for that matter who has been in the serial from day one, feel apprehensive and insecure about his role or how he/she would get along with the new entrants? If anybody has to have fears and insecurity, it should be the younger crop. Besides, we senior actors must understand that no serial can go on without two or three characters for a long time; a serial is not restricted to 150 minutes like a film is.
"A good actor should avoid display off-screen insecurities and on-screen histrionics in order to grab the attention & hog the limelight"
But don't you think that both your roles - Om and Nishchay - aren't treated at par with Parvati's (Sakshi Tanwar) 'Kahaani...' and Rewa's (Pallavi Joshi) in 'Kkehna Hai...'?
I agree, but if you see carefully, I am there in as many frames and have as many important dialogues as them. Playing the protagonist in the serial is not the be-all and end-all of my life. I cannot sit at home and wait for the day when some producer will come and say "Kiran, I want to make Karamachand with you in the lead." I am getting good stuff, why should I throw it up in quest for the better? Are quests easy to fulfill? No, they aren't. So I don't develop them!
If I throw away a good role that I am offered, there are hundreds of actors waiting to pick it up. Besides, television is a women-dominated industry.
Do you see more work happening for men in years to come?
Yes. Nothing lasts forever. The audience will get bored of seeing women protagonists and then... Tab tak, hum tike rahenge (laughs).
Do you identify with your character in 'Kahaani...'?
No. Om Aggarwal is a very principled character; too simple and honest, ready to give up his life for his family. Sorry, but the truth is, I have my share of flaws. What is acting? Acting is fiction? How can I identify with fiction?
Doesn't that make your task difficult?
In fact, that makes my task easy. I am going to find it more difficult to play Nischay Kapoor in Kkehna Hai Kucch Mujhko than Om Aggarwal in Kahaani... because Nischay is 'Aam' (ordinary) and Om is 'Ram' (God).
What acting method do you adopt while enacting a scene? Do you go by the script?
Script comes second, it's always the character that comes first. I need a precise brief about the character I am playing. I then get into the psyche of the character and plainly narrate the lines. I wouldn't say that I am a director's actor. I am more of an intuitive actor.
"If I throw away a good role that I am offered, there are hundreds of actors waiting to pick it up"
As much as I have seen of you, which is quite a bit, you have never been melodramatic. How have you managed that?
This was the first lesson given to me by my guruji - Vikram Gokhale. I did my first Marathi serial with him. He taught be to control my energies and be subtle.
Have you ever questioned the writer and the director?
What for? That would simply consume time, which in turn would demand that we hurry up with the latter scenes. Today, television is about delivering on time. I know what you mean. Once or twice when the writer or director has changed, he may make an error or two in the initial stages. But that settles down.
Correcting each other leads to unnecessary clash of egos and I keep away from that. Sometimes errors happen even with old writers and directors. But then, that's what I feel. Their perspective is different. Who am I? Just an actor. Just a clog in the wheel and not the entire wheel. The writer and director are not out there to ensure that Kiran Karmarkar should digest all the scenes, they have better things to do. In those times, it's better to go by the director's gut feeling and I have often realised in such cases that I was not right.
Is television an insecure industry?
You are referring to the replacements in serials. Well, you may think that they have become common parlance, but the fact is that this is a misconception. Just because there are so many serials flooded with actors today, you get that feeling when you see one of the characters going out. But believe me; no replacement occurs for a flimsy reason. Like, either the actor loses spark midway through the serial' creates problems in allotting dates / arrives late on the sets / has too many difference of opinions with the creative / interferes in others' work... it has to be something concrete. Television industry is just like any other office; you are finer as long as you do your job quietly, honestly and efficiently.
How has payment at Balaji been? Its' heard they pay lesser...
(Interrupts) What is more important? To receive lesser money or to look at a fat sum on paper only? Others might be paying higher or whatever, but I am getting enough money on time and that's all that counts.
Have you tried for films?
I haven't gone and asked for roles. I have done one film, recently - Thoda Tum Badlo Thoda Hum, starring Arya Babbar. It is due for release. Now with Kkehna Hai..., I don't think that I'll get anytime to go anywhere else, for at least a year or two.
With two serials in your kitty, how are you going to divide your time?
(Laughs) That is not my problem. Since both are Balaji Telefilms' projects, they have to decide and choose when and where they want me.
What do awards mean to you?
I consider awards important. Nahin mile to theek hai, lekin mile to bahut achcha hai. (If I don't get them, it's ok; but if I get them, then it's good.)