Vikas Kumar recalls biggest compliment for Kaala Paani from Ashutosh Gowariker: He wasn't aware of my past work
In an interview with Kaala Paani's Santosh Savla aka Vikas Kumar, the actor revealed his inspiration. He also shared his memories with Ashutosh Gowariker.
Actor Vikas Kumar is the heart and soul of Netflix India’s Kaala Paani. In an interview with Hindustan Times, he shared he was confident about the reception the web series continues to receive even after more than a month of its release. The show ended with a cliffhanger and recently announced its second season.
Kaala Paani success and season 2
Vikas predicts his screentime in season 2 of Kaala Paani, “Only Netflix can answer this. My character should be there. Honestly, I have no idea.” Set against the background of an outbreak in Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the show is based around an age-old illness which returns unexpectedly and forces a lockdown situation, which revives the horrors of the Covid pandemic. Vikas plays Santosh Savla, a separated father who suffers from the loss of her wife and does everything to reunite with his separated kids.
Vikas said, “We all knew that we were working on something very special. It’s been written very well. Makers have made very good content and relatable. I always wanted to be a part of it. You can see their honesty at work. Their casting process has been very honest. In all of our lead roles, there could have been many big names. But they were true to who was fit for the role and I think the best person was given the part after the audition. Hats off to Netflix for backing the project.”
Vikas Kumar on Ashutosh Gowariker's praise
The actor reveals he has been picky about scripts. “I don’t take up projects if I don’t like it. In Kaala Paani, Ashutosh Gowariker was there. If he is there then there must be some merit in the project.” Recalling memories with the Lagaan director with whom he did not share a scene, Vikas said, “I hoped to meet him during the shooting but we had no scene together. We met during the reading session and promotions. He called me after watching Kaala Pani. He said ‘Hi Vikas, this is Ashutosh Gowariker. I just finished watching it last night and I had to talk to you’. He was very apologetic that he didn’t know much about what I had done before. He said ‘This is your introduction to me and what an introduction’. We congratulated each other. He said that we will be proud of this show for a long time.”
Vikas has had several more incidents, even from unfamiliar quarters. He described the best one, “I have had this kind of reception for Aarya 3, but this time, my character had moved them. The other day, I was at a cafe and a guy walked to me. He asked if I was the ‘Kaala Pani guy’ and hugged me. What more do you ask for?”
Inspiration behind Santosh Savla in Kaala Pani
So was there any inspiration behind portraying Santosh Savla? The actor shared with a heavy heart, “Even my unit doesn’t know this… Santosh Savla is inspired by my distant cousin. He is my favourite family member who isn’t with us anymore. I lost him during the second wave of covid. We called him Pappu bhaiya. He dressed and behaved a lot like Santosh; very simple and everyone loved him. I have based Santosh on Pappu Bhaiya and the irony is that film is based on an outbreak. After a year of his passing, I connected with my sister-in-law and told her that I was shooting for Kaala Paani and I dedicated my role to him. Somewhere, I would like to believe that he has looked up to me from above.”
Vikas Kumar on his daughter's reaction
Vikas is not only a doting father on the reel, but also a loving one in real life. He shared the reaction of his 12-year-old daughter, who is his biggest critic. He said, “My daughter was trying to make the situation lighter when we were watching it. In a scene where I started looking for my daughter, she went silent. I only saw tears dropping from her eyes. She didn’t say much but she came to me and said, ‘I am proud of you Dad.’"
Besides Kaal Paani, Vikas has several acclaimed projects under his credit. From acing the role of Inspector Rajat in CID to starring in Hamid and Parmanu, the actor summed up his journey, “I am choosy about what I do. If you look at it, you will see it has been a slow progress as an actor, but a steady one. It’s also because maybe this is the way I am. I don't know how to do PR.”
When Vikas Kumar was stereotyped
So, was there a dearth of good projects for Vikas? He agreed, “Earlier, I have done cop roles. They put you in a bracket. I don’t have any hassle playing an army man or a cop as long as it’s very integral to the story. I did get non-cop roles as well but I think what has happened was for the best."
“In the meantime, I stay busy. I am also a dialogue coach. My income comes from there. We work on big projects like working with Katrina Kaif for Tiger 3, Babil Khan for The Railway Men and John Abraham for Pathaan. This work helps me pick the right kind of project. I don't want to do a project for money or the name of the production. Had I been only an actor, it would have been different," Vikas signed off.