It’s easier to call artists underrated, but that’s solely because we forget to assign people the credit that they deserve. When it comes to something as subjective as cinema, we tend to not notice people’s work, or not acknowledge it enough because there is no specific bar to measure good work there. If we really think about it, Kunal Kemmu’s presence in the film industry and his filmography is a good example of how we miss out on artists’ years of work because we are often bad with acknowledgment.


With his directorial debut, Madgaon Express, Kemmu has once again proved that there’s something he’s doing right. To find the kind of validation that he has found in his first time working as a director is proof that there’s more to his work than what we call ‘cult-following’. It is, in fact, logical. He knows his audiences, or if not, he’s at least honest with them. He created something that people formed a connection with. One argument could be, that this is just one piece of work, and there needs to be a pattern in order to validate someone’s work. However, of course, a debut being fine means that the director knows what they are doing.

From an artist’s point-of-view, this is not his first attempt. He was also the dialogue writer for Go Goa Gone. The noticeable part, on top of this is the fact that he made it a genre – just plain, honest comedies that don’t even have to be mind-numbing. In a way, he made it a point to show that humour can be intelligent – and requires work, especially if it’s done right.

His work as an actor is something that we just don’t talk about enough. The performances in Lootcase, Kanjoos Makhichoos and even Go Goa Gone are not appreciated as much as they should be.


We often forget that as audiences, we need to revert with as much effort as it takes to make a piece of work. So, if something is good, we need to be watch it, buy tickets or even have an opinion. Liking a film, or appreciating a film in hindsight is almost ignorant if we see it. The word underrated doesn’t say so much about the work as much as it says about the audiences. So, aren’t we actually failing as viewers? In that case, shouldn’t we stop demanding good work, when we don’t put enough effort for a piece of work when it’s actually good?


For artists, it gets a bit more personal. It becomes about chances, and not just work. Someone like Kunal Kemmu, for instance, deserves work that is bigger, commercially. But commercial work comes down to numbers and we just don’t watch someone like him enough, then that means lesser chances in future. It’s a ripple effect, so it’s easier to not take responsibility, but audiences do have a lot of control over what sells – so we do have control over what gets made. To some extent, we also have control over who gets more chances.

The actor’s trajectory has been a critical success, which should be enough evidence to acknowledge his work, in general. The fact that that hasn’t happened says so much about how feedback works. We clearly cannot say that it doesn’t matter – because it decides too much.

It boils down to this: Kunal Kemmu deserves more acknowledgment and presence for the kind of work that he has been able to produce through his career. For someone who has been working since he was a child, experience is not one of the things that we can question here. The performances may not have found recognition, but that’s just not enough to narrow them down to not being good enough. His directorial debut is being valued, critically, again. So, what is missing? It’s nothing that the actor lacks.

That’s what the word ‘underrated’ comes down to. Our lack of caring and our lack of valuing – because we hardly take ‘cinema’ seriously. In the end, however, cinema does not do the same. Cinema takes its audiences very seriously – even if it’s just for numbers.