You may remember him from his fantastic role as director of the 2013 blockbuster Local Kung-Fu or any of his other works. Just so you know, that movie got a nomination for Best Assamese Film at the first edition of the Filmfare Awards for the Eastern region. One thing is for sure, Kenny Deori Basumatary is no stranger to your eyes and hearts. We caught up with him recently and there was so much to talk about.
Basumatary is an Assam’s sweetheart, representing this wonderful state in different parts of the country. Growing up in Guwahati and Tezpur felt very homely for him. He attended Cotton College for his high school education. The star dropped out of IIT Delhi wherein he was pursuing Computer Science later on, blaming it on the workload. According to him, “I never would have been able to recover from the backlog of failed courses.”
Who can really blame him? Colleges can be tedious, especially if you’re drawn to something else like Basumatary was. From a young age, he knew what he really liked; what gave him joy and fulfilment. Since then, Basumatary has gone on to feature in numerous movies, performing different roles on set, and has become a source of pride and joy to many.
So while we marvel at the magic he creates off scene, Basumatary does bring magic to the screens as well. He has always been the one to blow our minds. This time, he takes it a step further. We finally get to see him feature more in front of the camera as a lead actor than behind one making things happen. For the first time on our screens, Basumatary teams up with fellow sensational actors Vidyut Jammwal, Sanjay Mishra and Shruthi Hassan to deliver this beautiful piece Yaara – a Zee5 original film – directed by the talented Tigmanshu Dhulia.
Speaking on the start of his amazing career in Bollywood, Basumatary says it all began when he featured in a skit in Class 5. “It was in Don Bosco, Tezpur, and the act was directed by CM Tomy, who was my computer science teacher then”, he said.
“We did it for a computer quiz,” he added with a slight chuckle. Basumatary derives joy in the laughter he sees on the faces of his viewers when he plays a comic role. He rode on the success of that first skit and did another one at a Rotary club event, and several more at school.
Balancing contrasting roles could be difficult. He gives an insight into the challenges he faced directing and acting in Local Kung-Fu. “As a director, I constantly was on my toes, trying to ensure everything was going according to plan. As an actor I had to ensure I rehearsed my lines and gave the best performance I could,” he exhaled. He jokes that he also had to ensure his clothes weren’t sweaty while switching between directing and acting (much to the delight of other crew members).
Although he is most famous for directing Local Kung Fu, Basumatary has done a lot more. In 2014, he featured in Mary Kom. And in 2017, he was in a movie titled Raagdesh. Other films in which Basumatary made appearances include Shanghai, Phata Poster Nikla Hero, Luv Ka The End, Kammara Sambhavam, Suspended Inspector Boro, and Bornodi Bhotiyai.
Yaara, which is Basumatary’s first Bollywood lead role, is about four friends who engage in somewhat criminal acts. To say these friends are crazy would be putting it lightly. Bahadur who is the most reliable and loyal one in the pack is played by Basumatary. Speaking about his role in the movie and its origin, Basumatary says; “I wasn’t really informed about the movie. All I knew is that it was directed by award winning director Tigmanshu Dhulia”
While shooting difficult movies, actors and directors may not get along so well. Basumatary assured us this wasn’t the case with Yaara. “Given the chance to work with a veteran director like him, I paid more attention to how he did things. I recently learnt a few lessons from his meticulous nature in song picturisation,” he said.
On the moments he would most cherish, Basumatary lit up while he talked about his most memorable moments on set. He said it was during the first gunfight scene they did. “I so carelessly fired three shots just to give it a whirl, and I was met with funny stares from Tigmanshu [Dhulia ] and Sunir [Kheterpal] who informed me I had just wasted Rs 750,” he said.
Yaara, as we now know, is a remake of the classic 2011 crime movie titled ‘Gang Story’. It tells the criminal journey of four friends operating in the India-Nepal border; an unconventional friendship, the kind that gets your adrenaline sky high. Speaking on the single most outstanding quality of the movie, and why it is different from other movies, Basumatary says, “Going back to important events in the 70s and 90s is an uncommon thing in movies, but that is something people can look forward to in the movie”.
He has a good relationship with the other casts of Yaara. Basumatary says they went along just fine. It would have been a major irony if he wasn’t friends with his fellow co-stars in a movie about friendship. Basumatary says “My relationship with them was good; they were very friendly, interactive and fun-loving. I’m indebted in particular to Vidyut [Jammwal]; he helped me with the completion of the shooting of my upcoming movie Local Utpaat.”
On some challenges or things he hadn’t done before prior to this movie, Basumatary notes; “Driving a truck was one of them, it wasn’t that difficult but it was my first time. There was this time when they kept one too many cutters and flags on the windshield, I had to bend 45 degrees to be able to drive. I also had to smoke a beedi for the first time, after about 4 takes, I was nauseous.”
Basumatary also listed some of the directors he would want to work with. “I briefly worked with Anurag Kashyap as a fight choreographer on a short film, but I’ll also love to one day do something major with him. Some others are Vitkramaditya Motwane, Dibakar Banerjee and Sriram Raghavan”. As for actors, Kenny says an opportunity to work with Ranvir Shonrey, Boman Irani, and Tabu will be amazing.
It was great to discover what movies Basumatary loves and which ones are his all-time favourites. “I’ll pick a few out of the many, ‘Se7en’, ‘My Sassy Girl’, ‘The Matt Reeves Planet of the Ape Trilogy’, ‘Undisputed 3’, ‘Kung Fu Hustle’, and ‘Love Actually’,” he says, while trying so hard not to mention some other titles.
Basumatary presently is working on several projects. Speaking about his forthcoming works, he said, “I’m currently in the postproduction stage of Local Utpaat, which I’m really looking forward to enjoying with audiences in theatres. I’ve also acted in Bhaskar Hazarika’s Emuthi Puthi, directed by Kulanandini Mahanta, and Rajesh Bhuyan’s Swargarath. When the Covid curve flattens, we’re going to start shooting an Assamese romantic comedy web series for an upcoming OTT platform called Reeldrama.”
Movie lovers in Assam and all around India can sit back and enjoy this lovely movie produced by Sunir Kheterpal, producer for Azure Entertainment and directed by Tigmanshu Dhulia. But more importantly, they get to see their favourite star, Kenny Basumatary shine through a role that he was born for.
Watch the official trailer here