Actor Kinshuk Sen, who has recently performed in Mira Nair’s ‘Monsoon Wedding’ musical in Brooklyn, New York, as well as YRF’s ‘Come Fall in Love’ (based on the iconic film ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge’) in San Diego, shares how he went from never believing he could be an actor, to living out his dream on stage.
Sen, who grew up in South Delhi and moved to the U.S. for college at UCLA, never thought he would be an actor, since he had rarely seen South Asians on-screen. He recounts that his friend was the one who convinced him to audition for a play in the first place.
“I just saw a lot of shows and I didn’t see anybody who looked like me, and I sort of made up my mind they’re not gonna cast me in the first place. Then my friend was like, ‘Im auditioning for this new Shakespeare company play called Much Ado About Nothing, and why don’t you come and audition?”
Sen was cast as Claudio his freshman year, and from there, continued to act in shows such as In the Heights in LA. During one of his shows, Sen met his current management company in a whirlwind of events.
“My co-star’s management company was in the audience that night, and they saw me, and they offered me a contract. That’s basically how I sort of got professionally started.”
‘Come Fall in Love’ came out of nowhere for Sen, especially since he wasn’t looking to do theater at the time.
“I remember her [his manager] sending me the casting call, and I was like ‘Okay, I need to audition for this. I don’t go out to theater at all, but I need to audition for this.’”
Sen booked the role of Kuljeet in the YRF musical, and decided to transition back into theater, after which he auditioned for the ‘Monsoon Wedding’ play.
South Asian representation has been slowly growing in the entertainment and theater industry, and Sen explains just how important it is to see people who look like him onstage.
“We seldom see ourselves on film, and we almost never see ourselves on stage … and I think seeing that representation is something that can influence and inspire younger actors as well.”
Although Sen had previously watched the ‘Monsoon Wedding’, Varun’s character in the play had different “nuances”, and a bit of a different storyline, which Sen aimed to build on and make him impactful to the audience.
“His basic duty in the show is to challenge his father’s ideology of manners and what masculinity means, especially in South Asian households, where we’re still in the patriarchal society … it was important for me to showcase his idea of what a man is.”
Sen took pieces of Varun’s character from both the film and the new script for the play, and created an incredibly poignant characterization of the youngest sibling in the Verma family. He explained that although Varun’s character has points of contention with his father, he still loves his father, and that needed to come across in the play.
In both ‘Come Fall in Love’ as well as ‘Monsoon Wedding’, Sen performs dance numbers, and spoke about his preparation going into performing them live for each show.
“When I came to dancing, it’s always been singing that came first and then acting. And then, I’ve just gotten the opportunity to dance because I’ve been a part of musicals.”
Being from South Delhi, Sen found relatability in playing the role of Varun, and of a young adult looking to fit in where they might not feel welcomed.
“I had the hardest time in middle school … Being the only guy who likes to sing and dance and everything, there are a lot of connotations that are attached to that … being too feminine, and this and that. I’m like, what does dancing have to do with my sexuality? But as a 12-13 year old, you just internalize that issue of not being enough.”
In terms of his accent in the play, Sen says he was inspired by a certain, very loved Bollywood character: Poo from ‘Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham’!
“I love her, and I was like this is my chance to play anything close to what Poo is.”
Although ‘Come Fall in Love’ and ‘Monsoon Wedding’ were being planned around the same time, they ran during different months, which made rehearsing for both shows easier.
‘Come Fall in Love’ ran its first season of shows in San Diego, and Sen plays the role of Kuljeet, who in the film, is Simran’s fiance.
“The process of becoming Kuljeet was so supportive and so amazing, especially because he was so different from the movie. Keeping DDLJ in mind, and what it really means to us, as part of the Indian diaspora, it just fuels you in making sure that whatever you do on stage represents not only you but also such a historic film.”
Since Sen worked with Yash Raj Films, iconically known for their larger than life, romantic Bollywood films, we had to ask him what his favorite YRF film is.
“Band Baaja Baaraat is definitely one of my favorites, and I think Dhoom 2, just because of how big it was. It was the first step for us in Bollywood to see such a phenomenal action film, and the soundtrack is phenomenal.”
Sen is now working on an acting workshop, and we are excited to see his upcoming projects!