There is little Karan Kundrra has not tried on screen in his decade-plus run in the industry. It looks like the actor has not had his fill of the supernatural after MTV Fanaah. In his latest offering, Tere Ishq Mein Ghayal, he is seen as Veer Oberoi, a werewolf. Kundrra admits that the show is heavily influenced by The Vampire Diaries, and on his part, it has been a challenge to not ape Ian Somerhalder. In a candid conversation with mid-day, Kundrra discusses the pressures of playing the character.
Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev in The Vampire Diaries
Edited excerpts from the interview.
You have done a supernatural show before. Did you have any reservations about repeating the genre?
When I heard the storyline and character brief, I was excited. I, however, didn’t think I would be able to do justice to the hectic schedules that come with television shows because over the past few years, I have gotten used to shooting for [finite series] for OTT platforms. But what is life without a bit of challenge?
Have you seen The Vampire Diaries?
Of course. Who hasn’t?
Besides the premise of two brothers falling for the same woman, are there any other similarities between the two shows?
It does look like the [international] show, that’s why people are comparing them. But fantasy supernatural shows are a limited genre. When we think of the genre, we immediately think of Twilight, Dracula or The Vampire Diaries. For instance, if you talk about two brothers and their mother, one immediately thinks of Karan Arjun (1995) or Deewaar (1975). For me, as long as the audiences are drawn to watching the show, it is [worth it].
When the show was offered to you, did you ask the producers whether it’s a copy of The Vampire Diaries?
Actually, that was my first question [laughs]. It is obvious, and I am a big fan of the show and Ian Somerhalder. I was worried that I would copy him. Having said that, if we had made an exact copy of The Vampire Diaries, why would anyone watch us? They might as well watch The Vampire Diaries again.
What new aspects did you explore as an actor on this show?
Veer Oberoi is a challenging character because it can easily [slip into] the caricaturish zone. When someone plays a negative role, they end up making it an [all-black] antagonist, but they are not real. There is no Mogambo [Amrish Puri’s character in Mr India] in real life, neither are there absolute good guys. Veer has his own standard of good and bad, he does not care about what people think of him. He is unapologetic and intense. It becomes difficult to make such a character rooted to reality, which is what I am trying to do.
Did you fear being influenced by Ian Somerhalder’s portrayal?
Yes, during certain scenes, I felt I am [emulating] Ian Somerhalder, and then it would strike me [to portray the scene in my own way]. Do you know the amount of pressure on me right now? Before other people can, I have put myself under pressure. Sometimes, when I do certain scenes in romantic shows, the director says, ‘Tere andar ka Shah Rukh bahar aa gaya.’ And I offer to do another take. As an actor, you have to keep ensuring that you bring your own touch to the character.
Do you think television has been affected by the OTT boom?
It was definitely [affected] because television was not churning out new content [during the lockdowns]. So, a section of people, who earlier didn’t have access to OTT, were forced to explore it. As a result, people got accustomed to a different kind of content. We are breaking television stereotypes with shows like Tere Ishq Mein Ghayal, and creating content that people expect.