Challenging limits

Challenging limits

From a light boy to one of Sandalwood’s top actors, actor Darshan is one artiste who has survived in the industry on 

talent alone. Bindu Gopal Rao talks to the actor about his journey in the world of films.

His twitter profile has a simple description — ‘Be good and do good’. And in the course of this conversation with Sandalwood’s ‘Challenging Star’ Darshan, I got a sense that he does practice what he preaches.

Born to actor Thoogudeepa Srinivas and Meena, Darshan says that he never thought he would make a mark in movies as an actor in his growing years. “Everyone knows that I started as a light boy and have graduated to being an actor. However, I don’t really look back at my journey as such. I am a content person by nature. For me, what matters is today, and I believe that I must live in the present,” he declares. After working behind the camera and in small roles in films, he received his first big break as a lead actor in the 2001 film Majestic.

“At that point I was actually working on a television show when I got a call for an audition for this movie. I was not even the first choice for the film and it was quite an unplanned move for me. I was told after a couple of days that I had been selected for the role and that is how I started mainstream acting,” Darshan recollects. 

Of course, this followed several films that won critical and commercial acclaim including Kariya (2003), Namma Preethiya Ramu (2003), Kalasipalya (2005), Gaja (2008), Saarathi (2011), Chingari (2012) Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna (2012) and Bulbul (2013) among many others. A staunch Kannada supporter, he says that movies in Kannada are on par with other languages and he has never felt the need to look for work in other film industries. “The film industry is like a business and compared to a decade ago, budgets have changed quite a lot. Then, even at Rs 75-80 lakh, a film could be termed as having done good business, but today the figure has reached over Rs 20 crore and it is only going to go upwards.” 

Movies & more

Because of his consistent performance at box-office, Darshan is considered one of the most dependable and bankable stars in the industry. Both his 2013 releases, Bulbul and Brindavana, were amongst the biggest blockbusters of the year. Darshan also ventured into film production and has also established his own production house, Thoogudeepa Productions, in 2006, and produced his first film Jothe Jotheyali in the same year. He has also produced and acted in the 2008 film Navagraha, which was directed by his brother Dinakar Thoogudeepa, and the 2013 film Bulbul as well. “Normally, I am on set at 9.30 am and work till 5 pm, but on my home production, I am relaxed and at times start shooting only by 11.30 am and pack up after lunch. My brother always chides me for it,” he smiles. 

The period film Krantiveera Sangolli Rayanna transformed his career and he won several awards for the same. The best part, however, is that this movie has won him his first ever State Film Award, which he dedicated to all the screen villains in Kannada industry. “I have never really desired awards, as I think I have not done any great work. I would rather prefer rewards when the producers who invest money are happy. I am also happy when my fans are satisfied with my performance on screen.” 

Ask him about his choice of films and he surprises you by saying, “I think I am not in tune with the current trends and my mind is blocked when it comes to choosing films. So I have given the responsibility of picking the right script to my brother Dinakar, Chintan, who is also an associate director, and my manager Mallikarjun, who check the scripts, and then I get in.” The actor considers his audience his top priority in life and says everything else comes next. For someone who has faced several ups and downs in his life as well as intense media scrutiny on his personal life, he handles it by simply neglecting it. “My fans are not interested in my real life, but only focus on my reel one. All they want is to be entertained, and that is what I strive to do in every movie I act in.” Also with his twitter handle he ensures that he keeps a direct connection with his fans and uses it at times to clarify rumours in his “own words”.

Looking ahead

Having completed shooting for the film Ambareesha, likely to be released this October, with director Mahesh Sukhadhare, Darshan is currently shooting for Airavata, an action-oriented subject directed by A P Arjun. Post this, he has Chakravarthy and Jaggu Dada as well as Sarvantharyami, which will be his home production to be directed by his brother Dinakar. A family man, Darshan enjoys spending time with his son Vineesh. “I work in a 20-25 day schedule for my films and try to take a 10 day break to spend time with my family.” He also does one movie at a time and ensures that he remains focused on the same. Despite his success, he is completely casual about it. “I am neither talkative by nature nor am I media savvy. For me, movies are all I know, and a 9 to 5 job. I have a clear agenda to entertain and I prefer to focus on that and never let either success or failure affect me.” And these are the words that have certainly held this talented actor in good stead. 

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