Pursuing the long-held idea of exploring the heart of Himalayas—from the beautiful Dharamshala all the way to Kaza, discovering towns of Andretta, Rampur, Rakcham Valley and many more unseen locations—actors Kunal Kapoor and Cyrus Sahukar recently set out on this journey. They wanted to further explore their friendship, discover new routes and challenge their own limits. And this epic journey became part of their new show, Great Escape with Kunal and Cyrus, which is going to be aired on Fox Life from 23 June onwards.
In conversation with Guardian 20, the duo speaks about their association with the show and how such journeys can help travellers bond with each other.
Q. Tell us about your show Great Escape?
Kunal: The show gives you a chance to explore cities in a jeep with a friend of yours and you go to places and experience places that you haven’t gone through. So, we travelled right from Dharamshala to Kaza, which is 1,000 kilometres apart, in 10 days. And on our way, we really had some great experiences—there were adventure sports, beautiful home-stays. And we were also driving through dangerous places and we also got chance to meet some amazing people.
Cyrus: I would also say exactly the same thing. It is one of those experiences or shows which is very personal and it’s also somewhere a personal journey where two close friends meet interesting people on their way and experiencethings that you may not have ever experienced. We went to a pottery village and met locals living there for years and visited their houses and then there was a Key Monastery and we had a meal with the monks in the middle of the afternoon. So, it’s exactly what we say, it’s a great escape.
Q. What was the best part of your journey?
Kunal: I think the best part was hanging out with each other. I think that was a lot of fun. We know each other for around 22 years and when we usually meet in the city, we have a very different sort of interaction, as you are busy with your schedule, and there are people around. But when you are on a trip like this, you really get a chance to talk to each other. So, we had a very good experience with each other.
Cyrus: It was like a therapy session, hanging out with an old friend—it was experiencing a completely new topography together. Things that I may miss, he may find it interesting and vice-versa, since we are different personalities, we got to see both sides of the story. That was the magic of the whole trip.
Q. If I ask you individually, how would you describe each other as a travel partner?
Kunal: He is nuts. He is out of control and a maniac. He is amazing because it is very rare, because he is someone whose conversation you enjoy as much as the silences. Sometimes you just have a conversation with somebody because being silent is awkward. But with him, I can discuss matters like life after death and then we can be sitting together and not talking to each other for hours, that’s really important if you are travelling because you don’t have to constantly exchange thoughts but you can also take stuff inside and think about it. It’s great that we have such an equation. What I love about Sahu is that there is never a dull moment even in the worst situations. And he has also a very deep philosophical side as most people have only seen his funny side and that is why you can have a conversation with him on pretty much everything.
Cyrus: I found Kunal as weird as me. The only difference is I am weird outside and he is internally weird. The psychiatrist report will also read the same. Kunal is a suspense family-drama where you find the hidden character in the end of the movie. And with Kunal, it’s a great thing and bond which you have with your family. The acceptance level is very high and judgment level is very low. You judge everyone in the family, be it your parents, lover. But when it comes to a friend, you give up.
Q. Since both of you are also celebrities, was it easy for you to carry on your journey, as people must have recognised you?
Cyrus: First of all, we were looking for people. We were getting psyched. I can never forget when we came back at the airport, the two flights landed together. And there were people all around. There were more people on that airport than in the whole trip. We rarely saw any human being for a long time. The human population was really low.
Kunal: It was also fun because most of the remote places that we visited, people don’t know the people from their very next village. And secondly, even if they know you they are very sweet. I remember there’s a Nako village in Himachal Pradesh and a couple of people recognised me and so some 8-9 people got together and wanted a picture with me and started singing Bambai Se Aaya Mera Dost and that was really sweet. It was nothing like shooting in any part of North India where people are pushing you for a photo. But actually these people were really respectful and kind.
“It is one of those experiences or shows which is very personal and it’s also somewhere a personal journey where two close friends meet interesting people on their way...”
Cyrus: They were very kind and respected our personal space and that is why we could bring some extraordinary shots for the show. They also don’t want you to spoil their vibe. And it was peaceful where we met some of the amazing people and stayed for some time.
Q. What was the biggest challenge in your trip?
Kunal: The biggest challenge was of course that the journey was for long hours. I mean the journey which you ideally do for 20 days, we did in 10 days. So, we were travelling to new cities every day. Some days we were travelling for 7-8 hours in the middle of the night, with hurdles like landslides, and that of course was a challenge. In fact, when I came back, I felt as if I was still travelling in the car. Secondly, the altitudes are also constantly changing. But it was also very spectacular because there were places and sights which left us simply speechless.
Cyrus: The beauty of the shots was amazing. Also, there was packing every day and then unpacking so we reach the next place on time. And then we had to stay there for a day and then we again travelled. So, a lot happened in a very short span of time.
Q. Out of all the places you visited, which is your favourite destination?
Kunal: For me, it was Key Monastery. It was something very different for me as firstly, it was the last day of the trip so it was just the experience we needed. It was a beautiful and quiet place and it was a very different experience.
Cyrus: Every village had something very special, it was all rocky and green.
Q. One experience that you will never forget from this trip.
Kunal: One is hard, there are so many to remember. I’ll travel a lot more within India. That is something very important for us.
Cyrus: I have been asked this earlier and I’ll tell you such trips are worth more than having hundred dinners with your friends. You explore and get to know about each other a lot. Also, we travel a lot outside our country but there is so much to see within our country. It has so much of variety in of travel options. We discovered a lot about India.