Issued: 04/Feb/2023, money control. Online. Mumbai, India.

Dialogue coach Vikas Kumar, aka ACP Khan from ‘Aarya’, is responsible for Jim to hold his own in ‘dialoguebaazi’ in ‘Pathaan’. Kumar, also an actor and indie-film producer, speaks about his Bihar-to-Bollywood journey, why stars need Hindi coaching and the imposition of Hindi as national language.

A hero doesn’t become a hero in a vacuum, does he? What is he without a compelling villain? That the world went to see Shah Rukh Khan in Pathaan and came out praising John Abraham as well goes to show Abraham strove hard to build his package. A ribbed body and action scenes aside, dialoguebaazi with the SRK was going to be a Gargantuan challenge. In Hindi cinema, more than the action scenes, it is the protagonist-antagonist dialoguebaazi, the nok-jhonk (repartee) that rings the loudest in a dark hall. And so, to essay Jim with conviction, Abraham rung up actor-cum-dialogue coach Vikas Kumar, with whom he’d previously worked in Parmanu: The Story of Pokhran (2018) and Satyameva Jayate (2018).

It is not just in the language, Hindustani, which makes up our Hindi films, the syncretic ethos is what Kumar has grown up amid in Bihar, and that reflects in his indie-film production house, too. Khan and Kumar Media Pvt. Ltd is a collaboration between two school friends, Sharib Khan, a tech-entrepreneur in New York, and Kumar, who grew up on a regular dose of cinema. The company was launched in 2016, their first production began in 2019. Cinematographer Savita Singh’s debut directorial, Sonsi (Shadow Bird), which won the National Award for Cinematography (Non-Feature section) and qualified for the 2022 Academy Awards.

“Our projects are varied. Right now, we are producing short films (Born to See in English; Shera in Kumaoni) and documentaries (Die Before You Die; Har Saal Ki Bhaanti; Go Gary),” says Kumar, who was first seen in a Vikramaditya Motwane-edited short Shanu Taxi (2006), and has learnt from independent filmmakers Devashish Makhija (Ajji), Ashish Pant (Uljhan) and Aijaz Khan (Hamid), the latter he considers “an extremely important film in my career”, as for web-series, besides Aarya 3 (Disney+ Hotstar), he’s bullish about Kaala Paani (Posham Pa Pictures for Netflix). And, no, he doesn’t play a cop in that.

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