Be it a boxer or zombie slayer, there is an unmistakable authenticity to Vineet Kumar’s performances
Nearly 15 years ago, Viineet Kumar was initiated into horror with the role of a ghost in a TV show. Today, he has returned to the genre as a zombie slayer in the Netflix series, Betaal. The show, which sees him as a gun-toting action hero, is a departure of sorts. Kumar is largely known for playing relatable, earnest characters from the hinterland. The series, he however insists, is not far-fetched. “It is not usual, but it gradually becomes believable,” he says. “You can see things that are contemporarily relevant.”
Ever since his portrayal of a struggling boxer in Anurag Kashyap’s Mukkabaaz (2017), a film he wrote with his sister Mukti, and gave four years of his life to, Kumar’s career has been looking up. The year 2019 saw his streaming debut, Bard of Blood, followed by a supporting turn in Saand Ki Aankh. This year, he plays a key part in the Karan Johar-produced Gunjan Saxena biopic, and he has two indie films, too: a lead role in Aadhaar and a central part in Tryst with Destiny, which recently won Best Screenplay at the Tribeca Film Festival. There’s also a Hindi remake of the Tamil film, Thiruttu Payale 2.
Given this prolific career graph, the question asks itself: why change your name from Vineet Kumar Singh to Viineet Kumar? The actor cites two reasons, journalists tend to skip middle names and then there is numerology. He doesn’t know if the latter works, but he says he does “believe in hard work”.
Kumar is happy to shuttle between web shows and feature films. Streaming affords him an audience that’s wider than that of indie films. “There is clarity with this medium, in terms of schedule and release,” he says. “I saw Narcos and it was clear to me that people have the vision to experiment here and I am game for it.” His love affair with movies, he says, continues. The lockdown has given him time to collaborate with his sister on another script. We can expect that to be another knockout.