Actor Sudeep on treading new ground with Naan Ee
In a film where the hero is a fly, the villain is walking away with all the accolades! Sudeep, mostly unknown to Tamil and Telugu audiences, is suddenly in the hot seat. All thanks to Naan Ee (Eega in Telugu), where he plays Sudeep, the suave businessman with a rich baritone who stops at nothing to get the girl he wants.
The actor-director, a big name in Kannada films, is known for his intense performances. In this film, be it outright villainy or the comical interludes with the fly, he comes up with a crackling act. Did he ever wonder how fans would react to his turning antagonist? “When you get a character like this, you don’t look at anything else. I believe the audience will love you, irrespective of your role, as long as you entertain them. Frankly speaking, there’s nothing called a hero or villain. We are all here to do a job. I have no hassles in taking up any role.”
Sudeep feels a character can develop even while performing on the sets, when infused with the actor’s sensibilities and the director’s vision. “I’ve been dying to do a role like this… with a director who has great clarity and spends time on every scene. S.S. Rajamouli’s vision and clarity proved useful, because there was a very thin line between comedy and buffoonery in my character. I had to tread the middle path.”
The actor is in awe of Rajamouli, the man who seems to have mastered the box office success mantra. “Here was a super successful director who called me from another State to act in his film. I had to live up to his faith. He has always given hits. I did not want to break his record,” says the actor, in a telephone interview en route to a road trip in Andhra Pradesh to promote his movie.
As for the accolades coming his way, he says his performance was an “extension of the excitement of working in Naan Ee.”
Asked about his journey as an actor, Sudeep says experience need not necessarily translate into improvement in one’s craft. “That happens only when you enjoy the process of creation… yearn to do something different.”
Sudeep, who made a mark for himself in Hindi cinema with Ram Gopal Varma’s (“he’s a delight to work with”) Phoonk, Rann and Raktha Charithra II, says Naan Ee has opened up a huge market for him. But, how open is he to acting in other languages? “Language, no bar,” he says, even as he takes a break to order tea from a roadside stall in Rajahmundry. “Of course, I’m more familiar with Tamil as I used to deal with the staff in our family hotel. Telugu was slightly more difficult, but I’ve managed.”
After all the excitement of Naan Ee, the actor says he’s taking a break to rejuvenate himself. “I’ve to get out of the Naan Ee mould. Till the hangover of your last film is gone, you can’t move on… This film was one-and-a-half years in the making. But, it deserved that kind of time and commitment. Now, I want to spend time with myself and the family. Thankfully, I’m at a stage in my career when I can afford to take such breaks,” he laughs.
What next? “I’ve never planned anything in my life. I always go with the flow.”
The best feedback he received for Naan Ee? “My daughter Saanvi hated me because of what I did to the fly. That, I think, was the best compliment ever!”
Sudeep also dabbled with television in the reality show Pyate Hudigeer, Halli Lifu, which saw city girls learn to live in a village. He was anchor, guide and judge in the popular show. “So many people warned me against taking up television. But, it was a great experience. I got to travel every weekend. And, it was an interesting concept,” he says.
Sudeep is the captain of Karnataka Bulldozers, and speaks fondly of the Celebrity Cricket League experience. “As actors, we hardly get a platform to bond with each other. There are always hiccups, hurdles… Even in award functions, there’s always a sense of competition. Cricket is different. Stardom does not help you win matches. You have to work well as a team. Once we became a team, we interacted with everyone else. Now, most of us are on each other’s BB contact list. We are just a text/tweet away.”