‘Multi-cultural self-deprecating lucky boy.’ That’s how Kunal Nayyar, better known as Raj of the cult TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory, describes himself—and with great difficulty at that. Also as tough for him was writing his debut book, Yes, My Accent is Real. ‘I find writing the most difficult, because acting is what I trained for. I spent so many sleepless nights learning the craft so that when I act I can let go, I’m so relaxed. But as a writer I’m always learning,’ says the British-Indian actor, whose autobiography traces his journey from being a Delhi boy to a household name in America. Excerpts from an interview.
When did you first think of writing this book?
About three years ago. I was telling a lot of these stories on talk shows like Ellen’s. People wanted to know my journey from Delhi and when I started looking at it chronologically, I thought maybe I should maybe put it to book on how this kid from Columba’s ended up on a show in America, and that’s how it started. I wanted to inspire young kids to live up their dreams.
How did the title of the book come along?
By fluke. We were thinking of names, going through the book, cancelling stories … should I write that, should I not write that, getting panic attacks, thinking of a name… and we got to calling it Yes, My Accent Is Real, and kept that till the end because it struck as something that everyone ended up liking!
When did your journey in writing begin?
Very early, as a kid. We all wrote as kids didn’t we? I wrote my thoughts, I wrote letters. I wrote emails to my father, actually. When I was in college, I had to write to my parents to explain what my day looked like…today I went to my first party and so on. We didn’t have WhatsApp or FaceTime then. That’s how it all began, with these online diaries I wrote.
What would you say to all this talk about your character being a stereotype.
But how is it stereotypical? A kid from Delhi speaks like a kid from Delhi! How do you want him to sound? His father is a gynecologist and he is a rich spoilt brat except that he hates Indian food and digs redheads. A stereotype would be if I was bobbing my head and driving a cab. If you went to Caltech you’d see a lot of smart Indians and I’m very proud to play a smart Indian. Also Raj makes so much fun of his own country—he can laugh at himself.
Is Raj finally in a stable relationship?
For one-and-half seasons he has been going steady with Emily and she is bat shit crazy *no I can’t say that*, she is nuts and she’s great. She’s a wonderful actress—Laura Spencer—and it’s wonderful playing the part with her.
Text Soumya Mukerji
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