Nirup’s found his foot

In the limelight

They are not available — black coffee or juice or the rest of Nirup Bhandari’s choice of items from the menu at the eatery. So what? A joke’s coming right up as this situation reminds him of a similar scene from a film.

“In it, the frustrated customer finally asks the hotel manager if he has a lock for his hotel. ‘Yes’, replies the manager, but adds, there isn’t a key’.”

With this, the 33-year-old, 6-ft-2 actor breaks the ice and sets the tone for the talk in his deep, distinctive voice, and later says his life has been orbiting films and music from the days of his boyhood.

“I watched a lot of films. I know many songs because dad (Sudhakar Bhandari, a director) always sang to us in the house; brother (Anup Bhandari, also an artiste) and I played ‘guess the film from the song’s interlude’. In college, I used Dr Rajkumar’s dialogues to tease people and diffuse tension.”

And since 2015, he is immersed professionally in one aspect of films: acting.

Nirup morphs into a writer with an identity crisis in his debut RangiTaranga, a college-goer in Rajaratha — both collaborations with his brother Anup. As the under-cover cop Adi, he tackles an urban social issue in AdiLakshmi Purana, a romantic comedy, in theatres now.

If for Nirup, it’s the first time being directed by someone other than his brother, for Priya V, the film is the directorial debut in Kannada cinema. “She narrated the story and enacted the characters without looking at the script even once. I’m reserved when it comes to expressing emotions or when someone is reading a script; even my brother. Anup ends the shots with ‘okay’ or ‘yes’, but on the first day on the sets of AdiLakshmi Purana, before saying cut, Priya exclaimed “magical, magical”. I wondered if I was so good. I then realised she’s an expressive and emotional person. It was a very positive environment to work in; it was enriching working with her and the team,” he says.

As for his most memorable episode, they are the three days when the team filmed an action sequence in K R Market. “It’s always crowded and there are lots of activities. It’s difficult to do a chase scene there. But the people were so loving and helpful that they made sure we got our shots,” he remembers.

A good story and a character he hasn’t played before are the core features Nirup considers before signing on films, as also for going on contemporary stages like Amazon and Netflix, “Why not, but the content and promotion should be strong,” he presses on.

Nirup’s move into acting is a practical story. While studying to become an engineer, he creates a drama troupe, Hindina Beedhi Hudugaru, and realises his calling is acting. But he keeps the resolve to himself. “Probably only Anup knew. I didn’t tell my dad because acting was something that my family believed was not a stable career option,” he says. One day, he tells his father about it and promises not to be stupid about the course of his actions. “I said I would get a job and practice theatre as well. So he gifted me three books on acting. An Actor Prepares and Building a Character by Constantin Stanislavski, and a simplified version of the last book by an acting guru in Bollywood, Kishor Namit Kapoor.”

So, learning method acting and dancing, and performing on stage become his after-work activities. “I was working even during the release of my debut. It’s a role I got only after no established actor could come on board and I auditioned with the rest of the newcomers, and everyone was convinced about me,” he recalls. Expect details from Nirup if the question is what sort of an actor he is. “Hmm... I’ve gotten into debates about this with a lot of people. For me, preparation is the most important bit. I ask for the script, see what sort of a person my character can be. In Rajaratha, my character is confused and not at all confident. Have you seen a squirrel’s movements? (Demonstrates) Like that. So I based his body language on the animal. It suited best, I thought.”

If he finds himself in the web of criticism, he can identify those with a valid point. He firmly states, “I value criticism from my brother, dad and wife. Because of social media, there are many reviews, and a lot of people write about actors. When things are not going my way, I bring it down to what I can control only, and work on improving myself.”

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