Darshan Kumar says he is the hero of ‘Mary Kom’
Kumar plays Onler Kom, the on-screen husband of India’s best known female Olympic medallist – portrayed by Priyanka Chopra – and is on the lookout for “meaty” roles.
Conscious about whether his hair was in place and regretting that he didn’t put on some make-up, Kumar met me at a Gurgaon hotel to talk about Chopra and the film.
Q. What did you think made the filmmakers choose you for the part of Onler?
A. I think my talent, my looks. I am very hard-working. I still remember I gave many auditions for this film, many many different kinds of scenes …
Q. You have done more theatre work than films. What do you enjoy doing more?
A. Both are different. In theatre there is spontaneity. There are no re-takes at all. That gives you a different kind of a kick. When you are in front of the audience, you get reactions there. But here in films, it’s a frame-by-frame performance. We can ask for one more retake. But as an actor we have to be true on both sides – when we are performing in front of an audience or in front of a camera, an actor has to be true (to his part). So I enjoy both things.
Q. You are not playing the lead in this movie. How important is it for you to play the main character?
A. I am playing Onler Kom who is Mary’s husband. Mary’s life is incomplete without Onler. He is the main part in her life, who supported her and motivated her all the time. And he is standing behind her and that’s what we have shown in the film. If Priyanka, I feel, is “she-ro” in this film, then I am the hero in this film.
Q. But how important is it for you to play the lead?
A. I think now cinema has changed. Every star is also playing a common man so the lead thing has gone. But there has to be meat in the role. When you are doing something, there has to be something challenging which you enjoy while doing. That’s what I search for in a role.
Q. Priyanka trained a lot for this role? What did you do for your part?
A. I am playing football (in the movie). Physically, I had to shed 12 kg to look lean like Mr Onler which was a very big challenge. I had to undergo training to learn the Manipuri accent which was difficult. We did workshops. I am a Jat from Delhi and I had to behave like Mr Onler. He is a man of few words, very sophisticated and I am very energetic always, so that was a big challenge.
Q. So you met him in order to learn how he talks, behaves, etc.?
A. I am sorry I didn’t meet him before the film, but I saw a few videos which they had provided to our team which was a great help. Our director Mr Omung Kumar was working on this film for the last two to three years. He helped me on how Onler behaves and how he is as a person.
Q. Did this role make you realize in any way how tough it can be for women in India to have it all?
A. That’s there. We have that kind of mentality that women can’t do anything after their marriage. In our film it is shown that if you want to achieve something in your life, there are hurdles, but if you have focus you can achieve anything. You only need a “ziddi dil” (stubborn heart). Why can’t women when men can?
Q. In your first film you are working with a top actor. What is your takeaway from this experience?
A. I am living in a fairytale. It’s like a dream come true. Priyanka, I think, is more than 40 films old and after that also her dedication and hard work for this film were truly inspiring. I learnt that wherever you reach, you have to work hard. That’s what she did. I felt like this is her first film, the way she worked hard on this film.
(Click here for interview with Priyanka Chopra on “Mary Kom”)