Director's actor, this one

Director's actor, this one

 Kannada actor Diganth Manchale

With Diganth, what you see is what you get. There are no airs of a star, no convoluted talk, no multiple layers to unravel. There’s a sense of innocence inherent to him. All his answers to my questions are crisp and clear. I wonder if it’s the effect of doing interviews all day long, or if it’s just his personality. But, over the course of our conversation, it becomes clear that it’s the latter. Diganth is simply simple.

Highly popular for romantic-comedies, Diganth surprised everyone with a mature and sophisticated avatar in his latest film, Katheyondu Shuruvagide, which has created quite a buzz. Apart from the movie’s stunning cinematography and refreshing music, Diganth’s performance has made many sit up and take notice of him. In the movie, Diganth, the actor, seems to have finally come into his own. He appears grounded and sensible; a long, long way from his bumbling boy role in Gaalipata, the first big hit of his career.

Talking about the movie, Diganth says, “It’s comedy plus drama, so I would like to call it ‘dromedy’. My character, Tarun, is a resort owner who is dealing with tough times as his resort isn’t running well. He then meets Tanya, the one and only customer in his resort.

What happens between them is what the story is all about. There are three couples in the film who are from different generations, and these couples will show what love means to them. For instance, the young couple in the film always talks about love in terms of future, while the old couple talks about love in terms of the past.”

Calling Katheyondu a well-crafted film, this handsome actor says, “Director Senna Hegde has shot this in a wonderful manner. I think he has touched many chords of relationships beautifully in this film. Also, he has a great sense of humour and a great sense of music. So, this film will entertain you a lot.”

This ‘chocolate’ hero began his film career in 2006 with Miss California. His 12 years in the industry is marked by many misses and a few hits. Surprisingly, some of his most popular films are the ones with ensemble casts (Gaalipata, Chowka, Happy New Year).

Diganth admits that he has a soft corner for romantic comedies but refuses the assumption that he has been typecast. “Look at my last film Chowka. It was completely different from what I had done before, and it did quite well. And things are changing in the industry. So, I don’t think anyone will be typecast anymore,” he assures me.

Sure, things are changing in Kannada cinema and Diganth has hitched his wagon to the right people at the right time.

“Director Hemanth Rao and Rakshit Shetty have already seen the movie and are of the opinion that this is the best performance of my career. They think I have matured as an actor,” Diganth says proudly. But what does he make of his performance, I ask. “Oh! I am always critical about my work. I never assume my acting is great,” he laughs, flashing his dimples.

Perhaps, it’s Diganth’s innocence that allows him to give in completely to a director’s vision. He wholeheartedly admits he’s a director’s actor. “I don’t like adding my own interpretations to my roles. I completely believe and rely on the captain of the ship,” he says.

Nevertheless, he does put in efforts to know every character’s backstory in order to get the nuances right. He explains, “When a director is writing a story, he’s inspired by certain things, so I try to understand them and create a backstory. If I connect with the character, then it’s perfect. Otherwise, I look up references so as to get an idea of the role.”

This dimpled actor seems quite detached from his work. Even though his career has seen many ups and downs, he says he has no regrets, and flops don’t really affect him much. “When a film doesn’t do well, I go for a long ride on my bike. Of course, there will be a resolution of picking up a better film next time, but that’s it. I don’t get overly attached to my films,” he says.

However, just like any other actor, Diganth also has certain fears. “I think getting stereotyped is what I fear the most. What if I have to do the same kind of movies over and over again?” he asks. But he answers his own question when he talks about how Kannada cinema is evolving today.

“Currently, there are a lot of youngsters coming into Kannada cinema, so the industry is growing in terms of size, creativity and quality. It’s the right time for any talented guy to be a part of the scene,” says this actor who aspires to, one day, venture into the space of dark characters.

“I would love to do something like Saif Ali Khan’s character in Sacred Games. That will be challenging,” he says excitedly.

Kannada cinema is boldly stepping into a new era and Diganth is also taking the bold step of moving beyond his chocolate boy image.

A new story has certainly begun for Diganth…

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