Saturday, May 25, 2024

From Indian TV to Hollywood’s Marvel Cinematic Universe: An interview with veteran actor Mohan Kapur

Interviewed by – Murchana Goswami 

Written by – Geetasri Roy 

Edited by – Robin Bhuyan (Editor-in-Chief) 

Actor Mohan Kapur has been working in the Indian TV and film industry for almost three decades. He started his career with the popular game show Saanp Seedhi in the 90s. He has acted in movies such as Jolly LLB, Haunted 3D, etc as well as web series such as Hostages, Black Widows, etc and many more in Bollywood.

This prominent actor in Hindi films has significantly impacted the Hollywood film industry as well. His breakout role in the Hollywood industry was in Marvel’s phase four’s limited series, Ms. Marvel. In the movie The Marvels, he continues to play the character of Yusuf Khan, the father of Kamala Khan or Ms. Marvel. His role made him the first actor from India to star in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In an exclusive interview with Enigmatic Horizon, he shares about his journey into the Hollywood industry, and shares his insights on several important issues.

How was your experience working for Marvel and how did it begin?

I have a manager in L.A. who I had worked with in the past in India. She really liked my work. After I signed with her to represent me as my manager in the U.S., the process of sending me scripts for auditions began. But back then for some reason, I hadn’t made a portfolio and show reels of the shows I had done in India. Therefore, I couldn’t get relevant work visa. Finally, in August 2021, during the COVID period, my manager sent me an audition script and told me to make a self-tape of it. The scene was of me playing the role of a young girl’s father. Not believing I would get the part, nor did I have a work visa, I was very lazy and reluctant to audition for that.

So, I called a friend who could help me with the female voice part. We rehearsed the scene a few times and we shot the given scene. After we recorded it once, we both reviewed what we had just done. My friend liked it and I felt that I had hit all the right notes in my performance and thus decided to send it to my manager. The casting director at Marvel, who loved what she saw, forwarded the same to Disney and Marvel for final approval.

After 4 to 5 days, my manager called and told me that I got the part of Yusuf Khan in the series Miss Marvel. And that’s how I began my journey in Hollywood with Miss Marvel. I was also fortunate enough to find out during our shooting of Miss Marvel that our family of the “Khans” would be staring at the forthcoming feature The Marvels.

Are you the first actor from India to be starred in the MCU?

I believe so. However, I am not the only one; rather, I am the first one to get starred in the MCU. Since English is my first language, I was more than comfortable acting in it but I also feel my acting sensibilities helped me in getting the part. I’ve always believed that writers are the most important people in any given project because it is their vision that the actors and the directors translate.

How does it feel to make such an achievement?

I haven’t done anything special or paid anyone for this great opportunity. Things aligned, and I feel the universe also felt I was ready for it. Things just happened.

How was your experience as a dubbing artist for popular characters such as Marvel’s Doctor Strange?

My journey of stepping into Miss Marvel began in 2020. But my journey into voicing for Hollywood movies began 3 decades ago. I have given my voice to hundreds of Hollywood and other foreign films and TV shows. Not only that, in India I have also dubbed for Tamil films in Hindi. The first time I voiced in Hindi for the Dr. Strange character probably worked for the production, for them to cast me as Dr. Strange’ Hindi voice. So, I feel very happy when people recognize me also as the Dr. Strange’s voice.

Among acting in films and TV shows and giving voice overs, in which sector have you faced the biggest challenges?

I would like to define what a challenge is to me. The challenge for me is to be employed and get a job. I don’t have any godfathers or the advantage of nepotism. So I have to do everything on my own. Fortunately, I never had to go out and ask for work. I am very happy with whatever I get. Also, I refuse a lot of work when I find it a total garbage. For any actor or performer, a dream project is to play a multilayered or complex character.

Can you tell us your memorable role, favorite director, or co-star you have enjoyed working with?

For me, every assignment that I agree to be a part of, I always hope that I always do full justice to the character that was given to me. In doing that, there are a lot of things that help you achieve your goals. For example, the instructions from your directors, your co-actors, make up & costume, music, editing, basically everything that the audience is going to see and hopefully appreciate.

Acting is a very collaborative process. It takes a bunch of people and things to come together and make it right. Therefore, what makes it memorable is the entire coming together of people in the right way. So, if you ask me which role, which director or which co-star I have enjoyed working with that has been memorable to me, I honestly will say everyone. For me every role I have played has been memorable. Every character had a notable impact on my heart when I did them. And how I know that is because of the audience feedback.

What do you think about the impact of artificial intelligence on the entertainment industry in the future?

I am not very tech-savvy. Still, whatever little I know of it, artificial intelligence is taking technology to the next level. As far as I know, AI is going to impact the entertainment industry as well as the common man immensely. In fact, it is scary what AI is capable of now.

Do you feel that cinema can be a source of social change? Do you want to be a part of such a movie in the near future?

I don’t think a movie can bring a crusade on the streets.A book, a movie, or a play can stir emotions and the thought process. But it can’t be a source of massive social change. In India, such movies don’t even get the censor certificate sometimes. However, movies can indeed spread awareness. We had worked on a movie named Umeed which focused on a very important issue. It was against unethical drug trials in India being conducted on children from poor and tribal families, but the movie unfortunately didn’t see release.

What do you think about nepotism in Indian cinema?

To be honest, nepotism exists, and it’s present everywhere. For instance, if my dad had a business, I would be his first choice to continue the family business so that it stays in the family. And this is what nepotism really is. But if Karan Johar has a script and he wants to cast a particular actor or actress in it, it’s entirely in his right to do so. After all it is his script, his vision, his money, his risk and his reputation that he is putting on the line by casting whoever he casts. So, if anybody has a problem with nepotism, the people to blame about the existence of nepotism in cinema is the very audience that has a problem with nepotism. Look it’s very simple: if you don’t like something don’t watch it. If the paying public stops watching a film or a particular actor, automatically he will stop getting cast whether it’s nepotism or not. So basically, it’s demand and supply. You watch it and they’ll show it. If you stop watching it, they won’t show you.

Will you give any advice to today’s youth?

Honestly, I have a lot of hope from the youth as they are not like my generation. They are a lot more sensible and sensitive. They don’t tolerate any nonsense from anyone.The youth see logic, they have compassion and they want to bring about a change to right the wrongs for the better. So, there’s a lot of good things in them. My advice to the young generation is to think and act more rationally. There is no harm in being careful, after all. For people who want to enter the acting industry, I advise them to complete their education first. There must be a plan B for everyone, as you can’t entirely rely on destiny.

Thank you for your time and explanining everything so well through our interview session. Best wishes for your upcoming projects!

Thank you. It was a great pleasure!




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