I come from a slightly older generation, so ‘A Century Of Stories’ was a huge learning experience for me as well: Kunal Vijayakar | Hindi Movie News

Kunal Vijayakar, known for his love for food and breezy, light humour, has now stepped into the informative space with the IVM podcast, A Century Of Stories.

A Century Of Stories, expertly curated to unveil both familiar and hidden narratives of India, offers a captivating perspective on India’s history, portrayed through short, crisp videos, narrated by Kunal.

From the remarkable first steps of ISRO to the uncelebrated heroes of IPL, Kunal Vijayakar will delve into the behind-the-scenes moments that have profoundly shaped modern India, taking the audience through 100 stories of India. A few episodes into the series, Kunal spoke to ETimes about stepping out his comfort zone, his food memories and more…
A Century Of Stories is unlike anything you have done before…
Yes, and it excites me a lot because it is completely out of my usual realm of things (humour and food). However, there is another side to me, which likes information and as a curious mind, there are so many things that you may have learned in school and forgotten all about. Just like the whole National Anthem episode that we did, most people who studied Civics in school will vaguely know where our National Anthem came from, but will not remember the core details.
The podcast space is essentially about holding the interest of the audience. How did this particular podcast manage to do that?
Podcasts usually have two or three formats. One is a long format, which works well when there are two or three people discussing something and people can consume the same at leisure, so the conversation becomes interesting. The other format is quick, something you consume on the go and doesn’t get boring. Especially, if it is one person (in this case me), loading you with lots of information, the shorter and more interesting it is, the more it will appeal to the audience. And of course, we had to keep it light as well (not funnier), so as to appeal to a wider audience, who are always strapped for time.
Are you learning along the way yourself?
Oh yes, absolutely! You know, look at it from my point of view. I come from a slightly older generation, and just associating with the younger bunch is a feat, as I am learning so much along the way. For example, UPI which we are talking about in one of the episodes, is a really new subject and we have started using it often and some of us (not all), do not even know its full form. So, things like these are helping me as well. To top it all, we have a fabulous research team that culls the content, that is then strapped with interesting visuals and presented to the viewer.
Moving on to other avenues, you have sporadically picked up acting roles over the last few years. Is it something that you have started to enjoy?
Honestly, I take on roles that are offered to me, rather than picking and choosing from a pool. However, when I am offered a role, I look at it from a couple of aspects – one being if the director/crew I am working for sure about their project and are they are a good bunch of people. This is important since filmmaking is a long drawn out process, where you end up spending months with the same set of people. The other thing I gauge is why the director wants me, is it something that I will really be a good fit for? And on a side note, the money in movies is really good, so it is a win-win (laughs)!
Coming to your food sojourns, when it comes to celebrities, the general notion is that they are extremely picky and hardly eat. Tell us a little about some celebrities who shatter that notion
I don’t know about others, but the ones I have shot with, have never fussed over food. Starting with the older generation, stars like Dharmendra and Jeetendra are true blue punjabis, who love food. Then, you have people like Huma Qureshi and Mahesh Manjrekar, who too, are extremely interested in food and eat to their heart’s delight. Outside Bollywood, we have Sudha Murthy, who, a lot of people might think has extremely austere eating habits, but she loves everything. Rahul Gandhi, who is otherwise so fit, once had two vada paos, kachori, golgappas and chole bhature with me before heading to purani (old) Delhi to enjoy a full on Mughlai meal, followed by dessert! Honestly, sometimes, I feel that it is me who talks to them so much that it makes them hungry!

You recently appeared on Bigg Boss OTT 2 to show solidarity for your friend Cyrus Broacha, who faced a lot of issues while in the house and eventually left due to a family emergency. Do you think we don’t talk enough on mental health in such settings?
I don’t want to go into whether the format of the show is toxic or not, but Cyrus has been a warrior for mental health right from the beginning. So, the way I see it is that one, his mental health had been suffering for a long while, and he himself said in his podcast that he had been struggling when in there, hardly getting any sleep. The other aspect was of course, just simply being out of your comfort zone is difficult and taxing, and had I been in his place, I wouldn’t have lasted this long to start off with.
You can watch ‘A Century Of Stories’ on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/@ACenturyOfStories

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