KAL PENN IN THE HOUSE
In India to shoot his latest, Indian- American actor Kal Penn talks to about stoned goats and his love for
It is clear that we will not have another Harold and Kumar soon. But that does not mean Kumar ( Kal Penn) cannot reprise his role in his own way. While shooting at the foothills of the Himalayas for Guneet Monga’s The Ashram, Penn took a fancy to the several bushes of marijuana around and the effect it had on a village goat.
“That goat is high as s** t # himalayas,” he tweeted on May 3, sending legions of fans into a tizzy. In India for a few weeks to shoot the ‘ spiritual thriller’ with an ‘ exciting cast’, Penn soaked in his India experience. A screening of The Namesake, the Mira Nair film on Jhumpa Lahiri’s book of the same name, was held in Delhi by the US Embassy. This was followed by a reception held by US Ambassador Richard Verma and Penn enjoying some paani- puri in a market in Delhi.
The goat was not the only thing that spiked Penn’s interest. What got his goat was the trash in the mountains. In several more tweets, Penn sent out pictures of plastic waste. “The trash in the mountains was shocking. These places are so beautiful, and there are so many holy sites. One just does not expect to find trash on the ground,” said Penn.
Penn was born Kalpen Suresh Modi to Gujarati- immigrant parents in New Jersey. After studying sociology and theatre, film, and television at the University of California, he started acting in TV serials and films. His role in the ‘ stoner’ comedy movie series Harold and Kumar created a cult following amongst fans in India, the US and across the world. Currently, he appears in Zooey Deschanel’s New Girl, and his own Netflix show, The Big Picture With Kal Penn. He was also seen in the CBS hit How I Met Your Mother as Robin Scherbatsky’s partner Kevin.
So, is there any possibility of another Harold and Kumar, we ask him. “I don’t know if we’re making a fourth movie; if it were up to me, I’d have loved to have a fourth. But we’re trying to get the animated Harold and Kumar movie off the ground, and there’s a little bit of interest in that,” says Penn. “I love comedy, but I still think the movie is more about friendship and road trips than about hamburgers and getting stoned.”
Apart from acting, Penn was inducted into the Obama administration as associate director of the White House Office of Public Engagement. He was also made co- chair of Obama’s reelection campaign and was part of several culture committees.
There have been several actors, such as Mindy Kaling and Aziz Ansari, since Penn’s arrival on the American screen. “The best thing about the Indian community in America is that it’s always existed and that there are tons of talented actors of Indian descent; in theatre and as writers in TV. There are so many recognisable Indian actors onscreen too. If you look at Mindy Kaling, the show ( The Mindy Project) that she has created is phenomenal,” he says.
“Or for that matter, Aziz Ansari is just crushing it. I watch Master of None. It is great. I loved the episode Parents, and the one on auditions, Indians on TV. In the last 10 years, there are many familiar Indian faces, and the audiences love
Kal Penn ( centre) playing a lifesize board game with kids at Shastri Market Camp Water & Sanitation project as US Ambassador Richard Verma ( to Penn’s left) looks on