'It was high time I did a Kannada film'

Big Debut

Sarathkumar is looking Westwards. He has not set his sight on the American shores yet, but the Malayalam industry will do for the moment. Debuting in Pazhassi Raja, the historical is a perfect opportunity that he wants to utilise to the hilt.

Sarathkumar believes that it is a mega film project. He says, “It involves the passion of the producer to rekindle the history of the king and the emotions of the people of Kerala in particular, and of course the entire country. It is truly patriotic and has an emotional fervour to it. It has all the ingredients of a commercial success too. Movies like this bring back memories of the freedom struggle. There are many
unsung heroes of the War of Independence. Many such episodes remain unknown. Films like Pazhassi Raja can get the youngsters acquainted with the past and instill patriotism. I am lucky to be part of this project.” Sarath plays Kungan, commander-in-chief to Kerala Varma Pazhassi Raja, played by Mammootty.

Why did he choose this role? "I didn't choose the film, it came to me. There is very
little mentioned about Pazhassi Raja in the history books, much less is known about his General Kungan, who fought the British and inflicted defeat on them. All that scriptwriter M T Vasudevan Nair had was the British Collector Baber's reminiscences during the period of unrest in the region. Baber laid down every detail meticulously in order to rout out the rebels completely. The character was etched based on his recordings. Vasudevan Nair and director Hariharan felt I had the requisite look of the character, the qualities of a hero. So they chose me," Sarath observes.

How was it working there? "Oh, I had a wonderful time shooting there. On first day there were hundreds of people milling around, watching me. But the people and my co-stars, all made me comfortable. We practised our scenes much
before the actual shoot and that helped."

So has Pazhassi Raja in essence enriched Sarath, the actor? "You can say that.
Basically, I want to act in all the Indian languages. I will be acting in a Kannada film with Shivarajkumar, to be directed by Omprakash Rao next year. I admired Amitabh Bachchan in Black and would love to play that role if Black is remade. I want to make a film on Subhash Chandra Bose, with more details, closer to reality but with a commercial touch."

Speaking of his Kannada debut, we broach rumours of his falling out with the director. “No, that is all rubbish. I respect Omprakash Rao. He has come up with an interesting script. I am doing the film next year," the actor puts an end to all speculation and suddenly wants to know: "Does Deccan Herald still carry crosswords? Assured that we do, he takes a trip down memory lane,
"I stayed in Bangalore, looking after Tamil newspaper Dinakaran's circulation and
advertising while also doubling up as a reporter way back from 1977 to 1983. I used to cycle to places like Rajajinagar and Sadashivanagar. Whenever I come down to Bangalore, I make it a point to read Kannada newspapers too. I felt it was high time I did a Kannada film," Sarath signs off.

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