‘It is not easy to live up to my father’s legacy

After playing an Army officer in ‘Mass Leader'and sporting a six pack in ‘Bhajarangi’,Shivanna returns in a brand new avatar

Hat-trick hero Shivarajkumar, fondly known as Shivanna, looks nothing like his age. The actor, well into his 50s, strongly believes that age is just a number. This belief is reflected in the kind of roles that he has been doing over the years.

The actor slipped into the role of an Army officer in ‘Mass Leader’ and later chose to play a man who wanted to bring about a change in a corrupt system in ‘Mufti’. One also saw him give out strong messages in films like ‘Tagaru’ and ‘The Villain’. 

In ‘Ayushman Bhava’, releasing in the second week of November, Shivanna plays Krishna. The film talks about why it is important to retain the joint family system.

In an exclusive interview with Showtime, Shivarajkumar talks about his upcoming release, memorable moments in his career and more.

How did director P Vasu convince you to accept ‘Ayushman Bhava’?

P Vasu and I go back a long way. Our association began with a pilgrimage to Sabarimala when I was 12 years old. Even after 30 years, we never got down to regularly doing films together. It sounded good when Vasu came up with the script of ‘Shivalinga’. He is a fantastic storyteller. I like the way he narrates the screenplay and tells the audience what I am doing in the film. Now, again after one and a half year, we have come together for ‘Ayushman Bhava’. The film was supposed to release on November 1, but due to some technical issues, we postponed it to the second week of November.

How do you relate to your character Krishna in the film?

Krishna is a very colourful character. By that, I mean, he brings out the necessary emotions required of a character. More than my character, I enjoyed the experience of working with veterans like Anant sir. He is one of the finest actors of our country. His presence alone added great quality to the film. We also have Suhasini and Prabhu essaying important roles. Rachita Ram and I have paired up for the first time. The film is a neat concoction of horror, powerful dialogues, good songs and great visuals.

How do you decide what films work for you?

Sometimes we make mistakes. When a film doesn’t do well, I don’t blame anybody. Flops must be accepted and handled in a mature way. It is only when we fall that we rise.

Is it easy to live up to your father’s legacy?

No, it’s not easy. Back in his time, there were films with social messages, history and mythology. Films like ‘Bangaarada Manushya’ and ‘Kasturi Nivasa’ are still remembered for their strong content. Films that were adapted from novels brought with them a sense of social awareness. I did a film called ‘Janumada Jodi’, based on the Gujarati novel ‘Malela Jeev.’ We tweaked it a bit and added a Kannada flavour to it by bringing in Kannada folk forms.

How has your father influenced you?

He taught us all to be good human beings first.

Tell us about your brothers’ films?

Raghavendra is great at humour and can juggle a variety of roles with a style and class of his own. Appu (Puneeth) was a super star when he was a kid, especially after he played a prominent role in ‘Bhakta Prahalada’. Today, he is both commercially and artistically a great actor. We are more like friends.

Your objections to dubbing? 

When I opposed it, some people objected to what I had said. I only wanted the interest of Kannada language to be protected. If we have to preserve Kannada and its films, then we have to work towards it. When I expressed my opinion against dubbing, 70% may have objected and 30% may have agreed. I would say that even the interest of that 30% should be protected. But today, I am proud that the Kannada film industry is doing well and is on par with other languages.

After the demise of Ambareesh, there is a vacuum in the Kannada film industry. Will you step into his shoes if you are asked to lead Sandalwood?

Nobody can take the place of my father, Ambareesh sir or Vishnuvardan sir. There are other seniors in the industry like Ravichandran sir and Anant sir. Their guidance is important. If they want me to be there, then I will certainly do so.

Message for Karnataka Rajyotsava

Today, everybody has an interest in learning a new language. It would be nice if people, especially non-Kannadigas living here could learn Kannada. It is a sign that you love and respect our culture.

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