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A true blue star

Down south

A true blue star

June 4, 2015 was an important day for Sandalwood. For, it was on this day that Sudeep-starrer Ranna hit the silver screen, and has since gone on to smash all previous box- office records. The movie, said to be the highest grosser in the industry, has set the cash registers ringing. Naturally, when I caught up with the actor, my first question was about his reaction to the overwhelming response to the film, and his answer truly reflects his love for acting.

“I guess every film is equally important for both the actor and the filmmaker, and it feels great when it meets the audience’s expectations. That, however, does not stop us from putting the same effort in all the films we do. And likewise with Ranna, we put our heart into it and it has worked out well. There was a sincerity with which every technician worked in this movie and I will not take the credit for it alone. It is a moment to cherish and rather than be complacent, we want to work even harder from the next film.”

These words, coming from the ace actor, film director, producer, playback singer, screenwriter, television presenter reflect his passion for films. Debuting in the 1997 movie Thaayavva, Sudeep has also starred in movies like Sparsha, Huchcha, Nandhi, Kiccha, Swathi Muthu, My Autograph, Mussanjemaatu, Veera Madakari, Kempe Gowda, Vishnuvardhana, Bachchan and Maanikya among many others.

Business as usual

Not the one to rest on his laurels, Sudeep says he believes that as an actor it is important to work hard to ensure that more people watch movies. And pressure is not a word that is in his dictionary. “Pressure is something that is always behind your back and it is entirely up to you to either handle it or buckle under it. When you are new to the industry, there is a lot of pressure in terms of what the audience reaction will be and whether you will be accepted as a hero and are able to sustain the audience’s interests. Beyond that, I think it is important to enjoy what you do and there is really no need to spoil your state of mind and waste time worrying about the pressure factor.”

The actor has currently signed on three projects that will start in July. “We need to work harder and ensure that there is something new even in a regular story that will catch the attention of the audience.” The actor has worked in several other regional language films and says that while most things are the same, it is just the target audience and approach that varies. “Since the budgets are higher, filmmakers there are more confident. In Kannada cinema, we have to work with several constraints and need to ensure that things do not go overboard as far as the budget is concerned and we always do our best.”

Incidentally, he made his debut in Bollywood in the 2008 movie Phoonk and has also starred in Rann, Phoonk 2 and Rakta Charitra. He also had a successful debut in Telugu cinema in 2012 with Eega.

Straight talk

Considering his track record of successes, I ask Sudeep how he selects his scripts and he stumps me with his answer. “Trust me, I have no idea how I do it. I think it is just what excites me at the point in time and zone I am in. Maybe I have said no to some of the best scripts, so it is just that your time must be good.” And he is equally frank in his opinion on remakes. “I have absolutely no problem with remakes if they have the potential to attract crowds to theatres . This is a never-ending debate and it is really a matter of individual perception. If you are comfortable with what you are doing, then that’s what matters in the end.

Today, novels are being adapted in films in different languages to reach out to a wider audience, and in this world everything is actually based on an inspiration.” An ace director, Sudeep says that filmmaking is an addiction and a passion and it can happen anytime — sooner or later. Likewise, his views on social media are also clear. “I am on Twitter because it gives me a forum to interact with my fans directly. However, there are two sides to every coin and some comments are quite nasty. But you really need to understand if you want to get into debates or arguments and waste time, so you make the choice that suits you best.”

Jack of all trades

As a television presenter, Sudeep has also received a lot of praise and applause for hosting the Kannada version of the reality television show Bigg Boss. “I have never really considered television as the small screen as its reach is vast and penetrates every home. In Bigg Boss, I could be myself and make people laugh and it helped me connect with people well. Again, what you do on the small screen is important and you will see me on television again soon.”

Sudeep is also the captain of the Karnataka Bulldozers cricket team that competes in the Celebrity Cricket League and is also the brand ambassador for several products. In fact, he is the ambassador for the Bangalore Traffic Police Department and the Income Tax Department. “Selecting which brands to represent is not an easy task as we are not specialists and need to rely on other people’s opinions which are again subjective interpretations. However, when law makers approach you to talk about their work, it is a matter of pride and I am more than happy to contribute in my own way and it is a great feeling.”

Sudeep also admits that as actors it becomes hard to do regular things not so much because they are stars, but because every act of theirs comes under scrutiny. “If my daughter wants to go out with me, I still do, and a few people may be around us, and that is really okay. But it is hard when your life is under scrutiny and everything you say or choose not to say becomes a matter of speculation and debate.”

Explaining that he has no specific notions of a dream role, Sudeep says, “I am in a world of imagination all the time, so I have stopped dreaming. I’d rather keep my mind blank and focus on my work so that the dreams of the public can come true,” he concludes.

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