Kunal Khemu on being a child actor and finding a firm footing now in Bollywood

One of the jinxes that we associate with the film industry is that successful child actors find it tough when they return to the turnstiles as adults. Not everybody is a Kamal Haasan or Sridevi.

The industry is replete with stories of Master Raju, Master Mayur and Jugal Hansraj vanishing into oblivion after shining bright on the horizon. Kunal Khemu who made his mark as child actor in films such as Sir and Zakhm found the going tough when he returned to the sets in Kalyug even though he had the backing of his mentor Mahesh Bhatt.

“ In all my films my performance has been appreciated but they have not created magic at the box office. But then, I feel I am better than many. So I am ready to go slow and wait for my time,” says the actor.

Son of a theatre actor, Ravi Khemu, Kunal says it was his parents who kept him grounded and ensured that he didn’t get carried away with the applause.

“We have seen many child actors who have gone astray. They were particular that Zakhm was going to be my last film as a child actor and after that I took a six-year break for education,” says Kunal, reminding you that it was the last film of Mahesh Bhatt as a director and Pooja Bhatt as a leading lady. “Sometimes, because of money, the parents get a little selfish and it affects the mental and physical growth of the child,” he adds.

Films like Zakhm result in a lot of emotional turmoil for the child actor but Kunal gives Mahesh Bhatt the credit for ensuring that he came out of the shoot happy. “At that age, it requires a lot of hand-holding and we bonded really well. He kept on reminding me the difference between reel and real.”

Having grown up in the industry, Kunal says he understands the medium better than many. “I know it is team work and I like to work in films which I would like to watch as part of an audience. I am not hung up on doing only lead parts.”

So he will soon be seen in Go Goa Gone, a zombie comedy, where three friends go to Goa and find themselves face-to-face with zombies.