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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Sunny Kaushal: The Budding Bollywood Star Going for Gold

Sunny Kaushal, the younger son of action director Sham Kaushal brother of the bonafide star Vicky Kaushal.

Amidst the Bollywood newcomers last year, Sunny is one actor who is set to shine in Bollywood. 

Graduated in Commerce and Finances, the actor did not wish to follow the standard 9-5 employment.

He began an assistant director to get a feel of working in the film industry.

This experience led him to do theatre for a couple of years after which he applied his skills of acting and assistant direction to see what the result would be in front of the camera.

After going through the audition process, Sunny got his first film Sunshine Music Tours & Travels which failed at the box-office.

However, the actor has risen to fame through his stellar performance in Gold with Akshay Kumar, in which he plays a Sardar Hockey Olympian, Himmat Singh.

In his first London interview, Sunny Kaushal gets candid about life after doing Reema Kagti’s Gold, his rapport with brother Vicky Kaushal and more.

The year 2018 was rewarding for you and Vicky. The Kaushal household must be incredibly proud of you both?

By God’s grace, it has been quite rewarding and successful.

Even after our big success, dad is always like “we should just thank god for this.”

The more we are humble, the better it is for us.

Dad always believes the more success god bestows upon us, the more humble we should be.

This is the same route we also choose to follow after all the success.

My father is incredibly proud.

He has been in this industry for about 30 years now.

To see his two kids in this industry and making a mark it’s a very proud moment for him.

It’s been quite great at home. It’s all positive.

Your debut film didn’t do well. How satisfied are you with the reception you’ve received for a big film like Gold?

Before Gold, I kind of battled with the thought of whether I’ll get more work out there or not because of the fact that my film didn’t work.

During that time you lose a bit of confidence in yourself.

I was fortunate enough that Reema Kagti and Excel Entertainment didn’t judge me by my first film.

They decided to take an audition and a screen test.

Subsequently, I bagged the film.

I was quite fortunate to do the film and I learnt so much from it as an actor and human being especially from those gruelling six-months before we started shooting for the movie.

This is because we had to train for a particular sport.

As we were portraying Olympians, there was a great responsibility on our shoulders.

For the duration, we had to train in playing hockey. I’m not a sportsperson nor have I ever been interested in sports.

Being a team-player, living with the team and having such great people to push/inspire you whilst on set it was a great eye-opener for me.

It has been an amazing journey.

The greatest compliment I got is when people said I played the role so well and looked authentic.

Such appreciation and compliments are great gratifications for a new actor.

What has changed for you after the success of the movie?

Professionally speaking, I don’t have to rush around with my portfolio and resume to production houses.

Gold has definitely opened a lot of doors and a lot of people have approached me for film and web-shows.

It has enabled me to experiment myself as a performer.

Personally, it’s given me a lot of gratitude towards being accepted as an actor.

Was there ever a temptation to ask or use your family connections to enter into Bollywood?

That actually did happen with me because I was a very naïve guy and I thought that if I use my father’s name, I might get some work.

I did do that. But I’m not ashamed of it because it taught me not to do that.

Dad always said that if you do, “a producer/director might offer you a cup of tea, but not a film.

You’ll get a film on your talent and on your merit.”

It took me a while to understand what he meant so I did live in the bubble of my father having industry connections for a while.

Earlier on in my career, it was a subconscious thing to introduce myself as ‘Sham Kaushal’s son’.

By doing this, I thought it would give me a little push, but little did I know that this would work against me.

People do not like those who take advantage of their connections.

I cannot walk into an office and try to get work because of my father’s name.

At the end of the day, one must prove their talent.

You don’t need tools. You just need to keep working hard and have confidence in yourself.

It’s good that you’re honest. Maybe others in the industry should be transparent about nepotism too?

Vicky and I are in the middle, on a thin line, regarding nepotism because our father isn’t a star but yet is connected with the industry.

Today, if one gives a star-kid a film made on a platter, they will probably take it.

However, at the end of the day, it’s the second or third film which determines how good they are as an actor.

If you’re not going to perform well, people won’t accept you.

There are such great actors like Ranbir, Alia and Sara but nobody talks about nepotism with them because they have proven themselves.

To a certain degree, it might not be fair on someone who works hard through the day to get a small part – who is probably more talented than maybe a person who gets it on a platter.

But at the end of the day, life is not fair and that is the harsh truth.

Life is unpredictable and one has to fight through it.

We can both sit and cry about the fact that opportunities go to a person born with a silver spoon, or use that angst to fight for that chance.

How exactly did your elder brother Vicky Kaushal guide you?

Vicky and I don’t have much of an age-gap because he is only one and a half years older than me.

He has always been a friend. But as well as that, he is the figure I look up to the most in my life.

He’s always been protective of me.

We grew up in chawls because those were the days when dad was struggling in the industry and he had just become a stunt director.

Our growing up happened in a very humble way.

We would use public transport or walk, had normal friends and an ordinary lifestyle.

It was quite a ‘middle-class upbringing’.

Those growing up years really taught us and were crucial for us to bond as well because we used to look out for each other.

Vicky more so because he always had that responsibility of being the elder brother.

That sentiment of brotherhood came from our father when we saw how much he shares his love with his younger brother.

Does Vicky ever suggest what projects you should do?

More than my dad, I go to Vicky for advice when I want one.

Since he’s closer to my age and saner out of the two of us (laughs) in a sense that he’s the calmer personality and he thinks more practically.

I’m more of an emotional thinker.

So I would let emotions guide my way but Vicky thinks more practically.

It is strictly personal when it comes to working choices.

I do share things with him e.g. a story that someone has narrated to me or if I’ve heard something exciting.

But he will never make the final decisions for me.

At the end of the day, it’s me who is doing the film.

If I’m not completely honest and excited as the makers of the film, then I will not be able to give it my all to the character.

What motivates you to literally ‘go for gold’ in life?

My ‘go for gold’ in life is to entertain people… That’s all I care about.

I’m not a very money-minded guy, so money is never my motivation.

When I started to work in this industry and thought about being an actor, it was for the glamour and fame.

As I grew, I realised that it’s not for that, but for actually entertaining people.

This realisation happened when I was doing theatre and did a children’s play.

When I saw those young kids laughing and clapping at the performance, I learnt that acting is much more than the glamour.

It is more divine.

There could be a guy who has had a bad day and comes to see my film.

If I can make him laugh or teleport him to another world for the next 2.5 hours, then that’s what I have earned (as an actor).

As you have now established your acting career, what style of films will you be looking out for now?

Anything good that comes my way. I do not want to bind myself to anything.

I don’t know what my worth (as an actor) is yet, I’m still discovering myself.

Instead of choosing a particular style of films, then that won’t be fair to me.

I’m open to experimenting to learn something new.

Listen to our full chat with Sunny Kaushal here!


Sunny’s next movie is Bhangra Paa Le opposite Rukhsar Dhillon and the film is being helmed by Sneha Taurani, the daughter of Ramesh Taurani.

Filme Shilmy wishes Sunny Kaushal all the very best for future projects.

Anuj Radia
Journalist and film enthusiast.

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