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

DNA Sunday (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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