Villainous turn for the better

No one in any industry can exploit an actor, we have to exploit ourselves. What we have to go by is only on paper and in the director’s vision, actor Sudeep tells Nishika V
Last Updated : 16 December 2019, 20:00 IST
Last Updated : 16 December 2019, 20:00 IST

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In a way, Sudeep, also known as Kiccha Sudeep, can be called a jack of all trades, as he has been actor, director, producer, screenwriter, television presenter and singer, who primarily works in Kannada movies, but has also done Telugu, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam films.

“This has nothing to do with personal talent in cinema,” he explains. “It’s just curiosity on my part — curiosity to do more things in life. I wanted to try my hand at all these things. I even directed a couple of films because the original directors opted out for whatever reason and I had to step in.”

Recently, the 45 year-old actor has learnt carpentry, sketching, painting, cookery, music composition and gardening as well. So which of the five film industries he has worked in has exploited him to the fullest? Again, he has a unique answer. “It may be just one line or 15 scenes, and each will be done by 100 actors in 100 different ways. Some people will succeed in taking the cream, be spontaneous and others may not. It’s how you exploit yourself that makes you what you are. You have to think and analyse what you can do better.”

Across genres

Similarly, positive and negative roles, or central and supporting characters make no difference to Sudeep. “There is no comfort zone. I love cinema and do only those scripts and films that excite me. A meal in front of me has to excite me so that I can take a bite. I don’t think so much consciously,” he smiles at his own outré comparison.

He cites the example of his memorable villainous turn in Eega, known to pan-Indian audiences as Makkhi. “Rajamouli sir narrated the idea of Eega to me in 20 seconds flat. He told me there is a girl and a boy and they are in love. You like the girl so you kill the boy. The boy turns into a fly and takes revenge on you. I immediately connected to Batman, who also wears a mask and is nothing outside his outfit.”

Explaining his approach, he adds, “I received a lot of praise recently for Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy. I just submitted genuinely to the role and did what my character was offering. I did not care much about what the actor playing Sye Raa was doing, and so I did not think too much — that corrupts an actor as you then want to match someone else. I have no intention to overtake anyone. When I did not overthink at the time I was offered my first role and had no choice anyway, why should I do so now? After so many years in the industry, we should not think so much about what is being offered.”

In Hindi films, he started out 11 years ago with Phoonk, a sleeper hit, followed by Rann, Phoonk 2, Rakht Charitra and then the dubbed Makkhi. Why did his scene in Baahubali — The Beginning not continue in its sequel? “I have no clue.” he says. “Rajamouli sir can answer that question. I don’t think about it, as the film was his vision.” His latest Hindi film, Dabangg 3, is the third part of an action franchise where the villain has to match Salman Khan’s iconic Chulbul Pandey and his past antagonists. And he says, “Sohail Khan and Salman sir are people I have known for a long while. Sohail never asked me to do the role, he told me I was doing it. So you can say I agreed to the film before its narration.”


Sudeep has loved the franchise and Salman’s character and it was great working with the two Khans. “You have to understand from Salman sir how to be as simple as he is when he is a superstar — he is very grounded, until you remind him of his super-stardom. Then you will get it,” he smiles broadly. When you work alongside names like Salman Khan or Amitabh Bachchan, it also adds to one’s journey, he feels. “I can look back one day and remember that I did films with these people. Life is a journey and these people made my journey richer.” Ranking high on his agenda now is getting home to Bengaluru from Mumbai and all the promotions for Dabangg 3. “Even my dog is forgetting me now,” he quips.

Coming up are Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham in Malayalam and Kotigobba 3 in Kannada. He has also signed Phantom, which has him excited. “I don’t want to take on too much work, but keep myself mentally free,” he notes.

That’s where the excitement in cinema lies, after all.

Published 16 December 2019, 19:55 IST

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