Karan Kundrra may come across as a chilled-out person, but underneath his congenial exterior is a tough guy who hates “bullsh*t” and “dishonesty”. “I hate people who make excuses,” he says. We have seen his outbursts on shows like MTV Roadies, where he has been a mentor, and Bigg Boss, in which he participated as a contestant and finished third last season.
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The actor, who has a massive fan following on social media, gets candid with indianexpress.com over the phone, as he reveals he is super-close to his mother and that he begins and ends his day by having long conversations with her. “It is the most beautiful thing in my life right now.”
He also offers a rare glimpse of other aspects of his inner world, his take on fashion and airport looks, being a foodie but eating clean, why he is not a fan of “crazy diets” and his obsession with ‘geopolitics’. Excerpts from the exclusive interaction:
Being a celebrity, you have a hectic schedule with shoots and appearances. What does your ‘me-time’ entail?
The only ‘me-time’ that I get is when I am going to the sets and returning. Thankfully, my schedule is not as mad as a television schedule used to be. [Nowadays] it is very organised, you get off days, they tell you exactly when you have to be on set. It is not like you come home sleep-deprived and go off to shoot again the next day. When I get [a few days off], I choose to spend that time at home with my mother, reading. But, one has to [cancel] all the noise and focus on something [else]. Even when I am walking in the park, my YouTube is always playing some documentary or whatever else I like to watch.
Mental health is a topic widely discussed around the world. What are your thoughts on it?
During Ganpati, I had gone to see Ekta [Kapoor] ma’am, and I was the last person to arrive. I sat with her and she was talking about cancelling the noise out. She told me how we cannot allow anything and everything to cross that barrier. It is just about [having] the [right] attitude.
I see so many people stressing about work, about social media. We are all digitally so connected, and people seek out relevance for artificial things. I agree that it is important to work really hard, to be ambitious. But, you have to stop comparing yourself with other people.
Be it Roadies or whatever else I have done, I have always focused on my own journey. I love what Ekta ma’am said about focusing on your own peace and not letting anything and everything affect you. You cannot make other people reasons for your happiness; you have to find it yourself.
Tell us about your physical health and diet…
I make sure that I eat healthy. I don’t eat unnecessary carbs, fried stuff, or oily food. I try to maintain a high-protein diet and make sure that there is a lot of salad in my food. If I am out somewhere, I will probably order a tandoori chicken, and nothing oily and greasy. Most importantly, I try as much as I can to eat at home. I don’t believe in those ‘crazy diets‘; I like to eat balanced meals.
But, you are a Punjabi and a big foodie, too. What do you like to indulge in?
Butter chicken; but, my mother has started making excellent butter chicken without any butter! (Laughs) I like my meat; I like my chicken. Outside food is greasy, but you can prepare the same thing at home. There is nothing that I am compromising on, to be very honest, and I do not feel heavy or groggy. Ghar ka khaana is the best.
How do you begin and end your day?
I wake up and the most important thing that I do is that I spend one hour sitting with my mother and talking about who is doing what. We have a family group chat, and we sit and talk about what is happening in the family. I think it is the most beautiful thing in my life right now. And after that I let my manager call me and give me anxiety. (Laughs) The first hour is extremely nice and simple. It gives me a lot of sanity, and I like to end my day again [on this note]. Sometimes, I read a book or watch something before I go to sleep.
What does fashion mean to you? And how would you describe your personal style?
I think my personal style is very quirky and edgy. And all the designers and stylists love me for some reason. They are like, ‘You wear whatever we tell you to wear and you own it.’ For me, it has never been about the clothes that I wear. I don’t put too many thoughts into it, and it makes me come across as confident; but I am not very confident.
Having said that, I am not too shy to experiment [with my style]. You put me in florals, I will wear them; you put me in blings, I will carry it off. People sometimes think I am making a statement. No. I am the statement.
What do you think about airport fashion?
When you are getting ‘papped’ at the airport, you cannot look like a mess. Even when there was no paparazzi around, I used to be very casual [about my airport look]. When you are taking a flight, especially a long one, you have to be comfortable. The kind of clothes I wear to the airport turn out to be comfortable and cool to look at. I like my oversized hoodies, my athleisure and my chunky shoes.
What are some other wardrobe absolutes for you?
Every guy should have a perfect set of jeans. They should own plain white shirts, flannel shirts, hoodies, and oversized lowers. I don’t understand how people wear leather pants on long flights.
Your biggest pet-peeve would be?
I think bullsh*t gets me angry. I am an honest person and when people try to take advantage of me, I find it very irritating. Do not be dishonest [with me]. You could not do a job — it is okay. Don’t make excuses, I hate it. I love people who are honest about things. When someone tries to act smart with me, they do not know that I am smarter than them. And I also do not understand why people want to b*tch about other people all the time.
If not an actor, what would you have been?
I am obsessed with geopolitics and diplomacy. And I think I would have done something in that field. I don’t want to be a politician, but world politics really interests me.
What can you tell us about some future projects, plans?
A lot of things are in the pipeline. I am excited about whatever is happening, even though I am not doing television at the moment. I am meeting many interesting people who are passionate about what they do. And it is such a beautiful journey. I have been around for 13 years and this is what I wanted. I don’t want to be the talk of the town, I am happy to be learning.