In a short span of time, Omkar Kulkarni has played a variety of roles in web shows and films. The TVF-produced digital series ‘I’mMature’ helped Omkar earn widespread recognition and since then, he has played several memorable parts. Recently, he was seen playing the role of a rapper in director Ratnaa Sinha’s youth drama ‘Middle-Class Love’. After doing a bunch of projects that required him to play the boy-next-door, Omkar now wants to portray edgy and intense characters.
In this interview, the young actor talks about his journey in the entertainment industry so far, benefiting from the digital revolution, love for theatre, ambition as an actor and more.
In the last few years, you have largely worked in the digital space. Do you think this particular medium has played an important role in your growth as an actor?
Yes, I got the opportunity to play a variety of roles and try different formats in the digital space. From long-format series to short fiction content, I got the chance to explore several things. Storytelling has become quite challenging now as you have to engage the audience in a shorter span of time. Telling a story in a minute is much more difficult than getting three hours to do the same.
While web shows have helped me earn credibility as an actor, short-format videos have helped me get a good amount of traction in the digital space. In the near future, I see myself doing a lot of long-format shows. I come from a theatre background. We would rehearse for a play for 2-3 months and then, do shows in different cities. With each show, you also get to know the character better and become a more refined performer. Because of my background, I tend to gravitate towards projects that need a lot of preparation. As an actor, I get driven by challenges.
You were in eighth grade when you realized that you wanted to pursue acting as a profession. You have done theatre for years. How did it help you hone your skills?
There are no ‘cuts’ in theatre. Once you are on stage, you have to perform in a single take. It’s like a test match for an actor. While rehearsing for a play, you discover several different ways in which you could play a particular character. You get feedback from your co-actors all the time. It is a very collaborative process. I need at least a few hours to talk about the importance of rehearsals.
Your theatre training comes in handy when you are shooting for a film or a series. When I am on a set, I know that I can give multiple takes but I try to give a good shot in the first take itself. Theatre prepares you to make lesser mistakes as an actor. Because of doing theatre for years, I have good control over my emotions and know the techniques using which I can understand a particular character. Theatre also teaches you the value of discipline. You do everything as a part of a big family. I learnt to unlearn several things while doing theatre. After doing a couple of shows of a particular play, things could change and one could need to perform differently. I learnt to adapt to different situations and scenarios.
How was the experience of being a part of a Broadway musical like Disney’s Aladdin?
It was a brilliant experience! We rehearsed for about four months. We had acting, singing and dance rehearsals going on every single day. We trained in Parkour as well. We were also rigorously working out in the gym every day. More than 300 people were involved in the production. It was a huge production and the entire team worked very hard to ensure it turns out to be a success. It was quite a unique experience for me as we had to sing and dance at the same time. That was something I had never done before. We did 65 shows in 95 days.
You have done a couple of films like ‘3 Storeys’ and ‘Middle-Class Love’. Do you plan to work more actively in films in the near future?
As an actor, I am looking for good work all the time. I grew up with the dream of working in films. I am reading a couple of scripts and would love to do more films.
Out of all the characters you have played so far, which has been your favourite?
It’s like asking a mother who is her favourite child (laughs). All the characters I have played so far have been equally special to me. I played Albert Einstein in my first professional play and that was quite a memorable experience. One of my personal favourite roles has been Kishore from the anthology series ‘Bravehearts’.
What are the kind of projects we will get to see you in the near future?
I will continue to do a lot of work in the web space. I am in talks for a film at the moment. I am looking for parts that can challenge me as an actor and let me do things I wouldn’t do as a person. The further a character is from my real-self, the more exciting it is for me to play it.