'I was not expecting it'

Best actor

'I was not expecting it'

I’ve been flooded with congratulatory calls since the award was announced,” says actor Vijay Raghavendra, who won the ‘Best Actor (Male)’ State award for his portrayal of Dr Puttaraja Gawai in ‘Shivayogi Sri Puttayyajja’. “I’m happy as I wasn’t expecting it.”

This surprise comes at a good time; the actor is, at present in Gadag, celebrating the movie’s 100th day in theatres. “It didn’t get as many days in the theatre in Bengaluru because most people don’t know who Puttaraja Gawai is.”

Vijay’s voice is coloured with happiness when he says, “More than private awards, winning a State award is great because it means the government is acknowledging your work.” He agrees that this has been one of his most difficult roles so far. “I even hurt myself when shooting as I wasn’t allowed to use my eyes; he was blind.”

The film, ‘Shivayogi Sri Puttayyajja’, a biopic on Puttaraja Gawai, had its share of trouble when it released but that didn’t stop it from doing well. Vijay explains, “The producer, Sham Navale died just after it was released and his wife took over the promotions, especially in North Karnataka. The death hit the team real hard so the award is a booster.”

Initially, the actor was reluctant to take up the film but director Hamsa Vijeth insisted that Vijay was perfect for the role. “I was scared as Puttaraj Gawai is a legend; I didn’t want to spoil his image. But I trusted the director and it worked out.”

Narrating one scene in particular that will always send a chill down his spine, he says, “Gawai used to go to the temple every day and had a ritual for praying. When I was doing this scene, I remember the start (bending down to pray) and the end (getting up) but nothing in between. I don’t know how to explain this, it really scared me, and I refused to see the scene until the film screening.” According to him, it was a moment of personal realisation. 

So, now that the film has made its mark, does he have something special planned? “Nothing as such. Right now, I’m at the mercy of my friends who are planning everything! My parents, too, are very happy for me and they were the first people I thanked when I heard about the award.”

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