Veteran singer Hariharan’s younger son Karan Hariharan is all set to make his acting debut in Abhishek Jawkar’s Missing On A Weekend. Sadly, the film got embroiled in a controversy before it could release. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) asked for 50 cuts in the thriller mystery, which is about a group of five friends who suddenly go missing and one is killed, during their vacation in Goa. An investigative officer (played by Pawan Malhotra) has just 48 hours to solve the case. After a legal battle CBFC reduced the number of suggested cuts to seven. Talking about it, Karan says, “I’m surprised more than disappointed with the Censor Board’s reasoning. They have their own school of thought.” He shares that the filmmakers were even asked not to mention Goa in the film where the entire film is shot and based. “That kills the entire film. You can clearly see in a frame that we are in Calangute, how can we say it’s not Goa?” he questions.
He reveals that he had first met his director Abhishek Jawkar five years back and expressed his ambition to be an actor. But Abhishek had laughed it off, considering Karan weighed 150 kilos at the time. He went to Los Angeles to study method acting at The Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute for two years. He says he wouldn’t be half the person he’s today without the acting school experience. “Growing as a person is correlated to growing as an actor and acting school lets you grow as a human being. I learnt my craft, practiced martial arts, focused on my acting, lost weight and came back to India.” Abhishek came home one day and he kept staring at him. He called Karan to his office the next day. He was surprised he was called to an audition without prior notice. “In L.A, you get a day to prepare for your audition. But Abhishek told me, ‘you have 15 minutes. Welcome to Bollywood, son’. I got ready, finished the audition and the film chose me. I didn’t choose the film,” smiles Karan. He’s glad he got to work with a veteran like Pawan Malhotra in his first film and counts it as an enormous learning experience. Karan gushes, “He’s such a powerful performer and made my life easier. I didn’t have to act, just react. When I had close-ups, he gave me cues. He’s not only helpful on-screen but off-screen too. When I was troubled, he gave me advice. I feel he still hasn’t got what he deserves.”
Prod him if he finds a low-budget, no stars movies as his ideal debut vehicle and he confides he doesn’t see it as a debut vehicle but as something he has achieved without any help from his illustrious dad. He asserts he doesn’t want to come up by using his surname as a stepping stone. “I usually go to auditions without telling them who I am. I use Karan Ash (anagram of Anantha Subramani Hariharan) as my name. I’ve gone to auditions as Karan Hariharan and as Karan Ash and let me tell you, the way people treat you is vastly different. And that’s not okay with me,” he reiterates.
Karan wanted to be an actor ever since he can remember and considers himself lucky to be one of those few people who had found their calling early in life. “When I was a kid, I idolised Shah Rukh Khan. Once, when I was five, I was having lunch with my family and Shah Rukh Sir was also present. I wanted to discuss acting with him. Imagine, a five-year-old wanting to discuss acting with SRK!” he chuckles and adds, “I never got that chance but someday I will. I’ll tell him, ‘Sir, I can finally discuss acting with you as an informed person and not as a five-year-old.” Coming from a musical family, Karan knows how to play the guitar and the piano and like his father, can sing too. He even knows how to program and mix songs. “Music was my escape from acting for the longest time until I realised that even when I’m playing an instrument or singing, I’m still acting!” he reflects.
A big grin gets plastered on his face the moment he starts talking about his family. He has a six years age gap with his elder brother Akshay Hariharan but he admits to being the closest to him in the family. “He’s a genius… very intelligent and smart. He’s an economics graduate who got into music. He’s naturally gifted. We know what’s important in life, not the fame or glory. We love making art. As artists, for me acting comes first, for Akshay making music comes first and for dad singing comes first. But more than anything else, for all of us, our family comes first.”
He comments that people think it’s a lot of pressure to have a renowned singer as his father. He admits it is but also points out there can’t be a better role model than his dad. “He has reached the pinnacle of his field and yet he’s so down-to-earth. He’s a Padma Shri and yet he has no attitude.” Karan’s very attached to his family. His grandmother, renowned carnatic singer Shrimati Alamelu raised him during his early years because his parents used to tour for concerts. “The kind of values that got instilled in me at a young age keeps my head on my shoulders and my feet on the ground,” he smiles and adds, “Mom was strict. I’m more attached to her than my dad. She is a strong woman… she instilled the feminist ideal in me. She’s also a great driver, so whenever people say women can’t drive I tell them to watch my mom drive.” He also reveals a fun fact. “Mom has a rule. Once you come home and take off your shoes, you’re not a celebrity,” he laughs and adds, “That’s the best lesson I’ve learnt from my family. To be brave, stay humble and work hard.” His whole family has seen his film and they all appreciated his performance. To sum up he says, “My dad gave me a hug and said I’m proud of you. He doesn’t do that often. It made me feel like working harder.”