Meet Abhishek Gowda, s/o Ambareesh

Like his celebrity parents Ambareesh and Sumalatha, Abhishek is interested both in films and politics. He opens his heart to Metrolife ahead of the release of his debut film Amar.

After weeks of election action in Mandya, Sumalatha Ambareesh and her son Abhishek Gowda are home in time for the release of his debut film ‘Amar’ on May 31.
Sumalatha contested as an independent and defeated chief minister H D Kumaraswamy’s son Nikhil of the JD(S). Abhishek’s debut movie took about a year to make, and the script was chosen by Ambareesh.  

In a freewheeling chat with Nina C George, Abhishek discusses his film, politics and more. 

With both your parents being actors, did you always work towards becoming one?

I never really thought about acting till recently. My parents insisted I have a strong education, so in terms of my education, I concentrated on what I wanted. I always saved that decision for when I had to make it. I completed my Masters in international relations and democratic politics. The decision to get into acting came much later. 

Politics also runs in your blood. Are you getting into politics anytime soon?  

It was just a matter of interest and something that I enjoyed learning when I chose to study politics as a core for my degree. I didn’t think of using it on a resume. Look at my family history, none of them was born to be a politician or even planned it. It was all circumstantial. True leaders are made, they aren’t born. So if I have true leadership in me then it will show. I can’t force it on the people.

What took you so long to foray into acting?

Once I completed my Masters, I took a year off and was deciding what I wanted to do. I started concentrating on my fitness. That’s when I started getting offers and only then did I start thinking about it.

What did you like about the script of your debut film Amar?

It is my father who liked it first. He enjoyed listening to the story. I never thought that I would do a love story as my first film, but it was something that my father wanted me to do. Also, because of the legacy, I thought my father had the right to pick what movie I should start with. 

Tell us about your role. 

It’s a love story and the events in it are something that could happen to anybody. It is an age-old love story but narrated in a new way. It starts off showing my life in college and later focuses on what happens after I graduate.

What kind of roles would you like to do? Are you looking forward to working on roles similar to your father’s?  

My father selected roles that were very different. He has done all sorts of characters and he has also had the unique distinction of working with everybody from Shankar Nag, Rajkumar, Upendra, Vishnuvardhan, Darshan, Yash, Sudeep and Shivaraj Kumar.
He took up a variety of roles that perhaps a lot of heroes might not have. Even though he was a star in his own right, he played supporting roles. He won the national award for playing the best supporting role in (Puttanna Kanagal’s) ‘Ranganayaki.’ He never let his ego or stature get in the way of his work. It would be great if I can manage to retain at least half the love that my father got from the people. For me, the story always takes prominence over the hero. If the story is good then everything else will fall in place.

Which actors’ works have you followed closely? 

I admire many qualities of many artistes. I admired the perseverance and dedication of Dr Rajkumar, the charisma and screen presence of my father and the style and panache of Dr Vishnuvardhan.

Your father loved cars and bikes. How about you?  
I am more into cars because I never really learnt how to ride a bike until recently. I had to learn how to ride a bike for ‘Amar’ and people were surprised that I didn’t know how to ride because most guys my age are big on bikes. My father had all swanky cars before he got into politics. That is something that I grew up around. I would love to buy all fancy cars but it’s just that I can’t afford them. 

Your father was more than just an actor. He was an icon and he used to take up problems faced by the Kannada film industry. Who do you see in that role now?

Someone should take up the leadership role of uniting the industry. My father had that quality of bringing people together. He would sort out problems internally, without involving the government, because he was around when people needed him. I feel somebody from within the industry should take up that role because that void is there and it can be felt.

What do you think should be done to popularise the Kannada film industry?
If we make good cinema and give our audience something worth watching then they will lap it up because there are a lot of good stories that have done well. It is no more just about big budgets and big stars. When you tell a good story, people take time off to watch it. This is the only way the industry grows. 

Are you open to working on offbeat cinema?

Because of my legacy, I already have an audience which wants to watch me because of my father. If I get a good script and I am assured that the cinema will be accepted by the audience or my dad’s fans, then why not? You have to work in all kinds of roles to be a well-rounded actor. I don’t want to be confined just to one thing. I want to be happy doing the work that I am doing and I am sure the audience also expects a multitude of roles from me. 

What do you think your mother should do for the people of Mandya?

She must do everything she can with the powers of an MP to solve the problems farmers are facing with their debts and loans. I am sure she will do everything she can to ease the burden and be a voice at the centre to get as much funds for the state as possible.

How have the last few months been for you?

Physically and mentally probably the most stressful because of the amount of work needed to take on a very strong opposition. The stress of that was quite high but we always knew we would win and the people would take us right. This win is a massive expression of faith in us. Looking back, the sleepless nights and tension were all worth it.

What kind of music do you listen to?

I listen to everything from Kannada music to heavy metal. I am a bad singer but my father and I would still sing at family gatherings and when we were with our friends.

Do you enjoy reading? Any favourite authors?

I enjoy reading fiction. I still read Harry Potter and Jeffrey Archer. I lay my hands on any meaty fiction that can make me forget reality and transport me to a different world.

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