Thursday, May 30, 2024

Kenny Basumatary talks about his experience in the film Jawan and about struggles in the Assamese film industry (Exclusive Interview)

Robin Bhuyan (Editor-in-Chief)

Sumedha Sen

Kenny Basumatary is a well-known actor from Assam who began his career with the martial arts comedy film Local Kung Fu. Eventually, he also made his mark in the Hindi film industry. He was seen in the sports drama film Mary Kom, starring alongside Priyanka Chopra. He has starred in multiple other Hindi films, such as Yaara, starring alongside Vidyut Jammwal, and more recently, the vigilante action film Jawan, starring alongside Shahrukh Khan. Enigmatic Horizon recently had the pleasure of having a conversation with the multitalented actor, where we discussed his life and career, as well as several aspects of cinema.

From the Assamese film Local Kung Fu to the recently released Jawan, you have come a long way. First of all, we would like to ask you about your first film, Local Kung Fu. What was it that inspired you to make the film, and how was your experience?

We wanted to make a film where we could showcase our martial arts and comedic skills. Despite having a budget of only 1 lakh INR, we managed to start production. Although this was a low budget, we managed to buy the necessary equipment, and thus, our journey began.

In India, we see very few martial arts films. What do you think is the reason behind this?

It is hard to find people who are proficient in both martial arts and acting, and I feel this is one of the main reasons. Today, we have actors like Tiger Shroff and Vidyut Jammwal who are doing excellent jobs. Even previously, we had actors such as Akshay Kumar and Sunil Shetty, who did a commendable job. I think it was films like Commando and Baaghi that interested people in the martial arts genre.

Is there anyone whom you would consider your inspiration?

Yes, there are many people who have had a role in inspiring me, and they would include actors like Jackie Chan and Tony Jaa. I have also been inspired by movies such as John Wick and Mission Impossible, as these movies have set the standards on what a good action film should be like.

You were seen alongside Priyanka Chopra in her film Mary Kom. And recently, you were seen in SRK’s Jawan. We would like to know about your struggle to get into Bollywood.

Unless you are from a family background like the Kapoors or the Khans, everyone has to go through their struggles. Some struggle in buses and autos, while others struggle in their Mercedes. But struggle exists for everyone. You have to go from one audition to the other, and face a lot of rejections, after which you might eventually get the opportunity to prove yourself. Even now, if I appear for ten auditions, I only get selected in around one or two of them.

What was your experience working alongside SRK, who is among the most popular actors worldwide?

I feel SRK is a very intelligent and polite gentleman. He also has a good command over the Hindi and English language. Once he was narrating a story to us, and the way he did it, without any pauses or mumbling, was quite remarkable. When he was late on the first day of the shooting, he apologized to us for it, even though he himself is the producer of the film. So I feel that he is quite humble and polite.

What do you feel about the Assamese regional film industry, which is starting to gain recognition on a much wider scale?

We need to focus on increasing cinema halls in the state, if we want the industry to develop. The more cinema halls there are, the more tickets they are able to sell. Thus, the producers are able to get back their return on investment, which gives them the confidence to invest in more and bigger budget movies later on. I hope the film industry continues to grow, as I want to explore all kinds of genres in cinema.

Assamese cinema has always had the issue of budget constraints. What would you say about it?

The lack of cinema halls in Assam is the main problem. When producers invest, they invest considering the number of cinema halls that exist in the state. The recently released Sri Raghupati did quite well at the box office compared to other Assamese films, earning an amount of 13 crore Rupees. Imagine if we had around 200 cinema halls, instead of 50-60. The profits would be around 4 times!

Apart from acting and directing, what are the other things that you enjoy doing as hobby?

Practicing martial arts is among my favourite hobbies. Music is also something I enjoy. I have also composed songs for our web series Tumar Opekhyat.

For the first time, two Indian movies have been honored at the Oscars. Do you feel that there is a bias against India at the Academy Awards?  

People from India have won Oscars before, though a movie had never been awarded. I don’t think there is any kind of bias. I feel that it has more to do with marketing. In order to promote your film at the Academy Award, producers need to spend thousands and thousands of dollars, to promote their movies. Maybe we were lacking in this aspect.

What advice would you give to aspiring actors and filmmakers?

I would like to advise them to make lots of shorts and music videos. I would advise them to learn editing as well, as it can help you improve your knowledge.  

As a multi-talented artist, do you want to explore new genres?

Yes, I do have plans to be a part of a horror movie. I am also interested in making another romantic comedy. Only time will tell what kind of opportunities are presented to me.

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