Pallabi Purkayastha (BOMBAY TIMES; August 11, 2018)

He may be just one movie old, but Bollywood newbie Sunny Kaushal is already well acquainted with the tricks of this trade. “You have to be honest with yourself and your work,” asserts the young actor, matter-of-factly. Son of renowned action director Sham Kaushal and younger brother of Vicky Kaushal, Sunny did not get a dream launch, as his father “shattered his bubble” right at the beginning by saying that he would not get work in films just because he is his son. In an exclusive interview with Bombay Times, the youngest Kaushal shares his long struggle with self-doubt and explains why he is unfazed by his big brother’s newfound success. Excerpts...

Gold is your second Bollywood film, and you are working with a critically acclaimed director like Reema Kagti and a superstar like Akshay Kumar. Also, you are playing a hockey player, Himmat Singh, in the historical sports drama. How tough was it to portray an athlete on screen?
Himmat Singh is a grounded, impulsive and simple guy. He doesn’t have any fa├žade and doesn’t understand politics and manipulation. If he is angry, he is angry, if he loves someone, he loves someone. He also has certain rigid notions about India’s independence. He lives by his own rules, which lands him in trouble as well.

In an interview last year, you recalled how your father (Sham Kaushal) had told you and your brother (Vicky) to not expect a smooth journey in Bollywood because you are his sons. Tell us something about your struggles as an actor...
Well, the struggle started with my father’s statement, ‘Because of my name, somebody might entertain you in their office and offer a cup of tea or coffee, but they will not give you a job. It’s your own hard work that will get you that.’ That shattered our bubble. For a long time, I battled the thought that maybe I am not cut out to be an actor, because no matter where I went, I always faced rejection. I think it’s a process of self-growth, because you don’t have a Plan B. So, you tell yourself, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen today, but tomorrow, I will’. Then there were lots of auditions and small jobs here and there. I would say that my struggle is pretty much what everyone goes through. No matter which job you do, you have to go through a particular grind, which helps you evolve.

Vicky is counted among today’s most promising upcoming actors. While you must be proud of him, is there also the pressure that you have to catch up? Also, on a lighter note, is there any sibling rivalry?
Vicky has worked really hard, and it’s a proud moment for us as a family to see him climb the ladder of success. Talking about myself, I want to take my own sweet time. We both have our own journeys. I am very secure and have no insecurities. I have seen him struggle to reach here, so there is no pressure at all. Also, sibling rivalry? Kahaan se aayegi sibling rivalry?...nahin nahin.

While Vicky’s career has seen highs like Masaan and Raazi, there were also movies like Raman Raghav 2.0, which didn’t do well. Have you learnt any lessons from the way he has handled his career?
I have learnt from his career that you have to be honest with yourself and your work, there is no other way. And people can read that honesty — the directors, producers, co-actors and the audience. You cannot cheat your own self.