He may have rubbed shoulders with the likes of megastar Amitabh Bachchan in only his second Hindi film “Rann”, but Kannada star Sudeep is a little disillusioned with Bollywood. Actors from Karnataka and Kerala, he says, are “totally sidelined by Hindi filmgoers”.
“I didn’t come to Mumbai looking for a career. I adore this personality called Ram Gopal Varma. I think it was basically Ramu’s trust in my abilities that prompted me to get on that flight from Bangalore to Mumbai,” Sudeep told IANS in an interview.
The actor, who made his Hindi film debut with “Phoonk” and followed it with “Rann”, said: “Somehow I feel South Indian actors are not that well known in the Hindi belt. Tamil and Telugu actors have an upper hand. But Kannada and Kerala are totally sidelined by Hindi filmgoers.”
“I don’t want to blame anyone for this state of affairs. It’s just that Kannada cinema hasn’t grown. But let’s be fair. There are filmmakers like Ramu to give us a chance. I’m sure there will be other chances given to South Indian actors.”
His next Hindi film is “Rakta Charitra”.
Tell me about yourself?
A: My father is a hotelier in Karnataka. There’re no actors in my family. I used to play a lot of cricket at the junior level. Then I did my engineering and got interested in singing and playing the guitar. Yes, I’m a musician. From music it was a step away from cinema. For six years, I struggled in the Kannada cinema industry. I lived on Rs.500 per month.
No sustenance from the family business?
A: No I never took money from the family after standard 10. I used to work in a clothes store, played cricket for money, did photo shoots. It was that period of struggle which gave me the experience to be an actor. The emotions have to come from the raw material of life.
A: Yes, married with a five-year-old daughter Saanvi. My wife Priya used to work for an airline, then in a bank. I got married very early, in fact right after my first successful film “Huccha” in 2001 which was remade in Hindi (with Salman Khan) as “Tere Naam”. They changed the Hindi version drastically.
Do you get linked to your leading ladies?
A: A couple of times, yes, and it was ugly. But it was ok. It fizzled out in a few weeks. My wife knows either I am working or I am at home. I’ve also directed “An Autograph” and three other films.
While I like to experiment in Kannada, in Hindi there aren’t too many directors doing “Chak De!” or “Taare Zameen Par”. Ramesh Taurani has shown interest in remaking my latest directorial effort “Just Math Mathalli” in Hindi. I’d like to direct the Hindi version as well.
What prompted you to come to Mumbai to do “Phoonk” and “Rann“?
A: I didn’t come to Mumbai looking for a career. I adore this personality called Ram Gopal Varma. He travelled from the South and became a brand in Mumbai. I never question what he casts me in. I think it was basically Ramu’s trust in my abilities that prompted me to get on that flight from Bangalore to Mumbai. I’ve never hired a PRO to promote my career in Hindi cinema.
You started your Hindi career with the horror film “Phoonk“?
A: I had never done a horror film before. I don’t even like horror films. So the challenge was to do a new genre in a new language, culture and actors I didn’t know.
As a Kannada actor did you feel disadvantaged in Mumbai?
A: Somehow I feel South Indian actors are not that well-known in the Hindi belt. Tamil and Telugu actors have an upper hand. But Kannada and Kerala are totally sidelined by Hindi filmgoers. I don’t want to blame anyone for this state of affairs. It’s just that Kannada cinema hasn’t grown.
But let’s be fair. There’re filmmakers like Ram Gopal Varma to give us a chance. I’m sure there will be other chances given to South Indian actors.
What will you be seen in Hindi in next?
A: My character in Ramu’s “Rakta Charitra” is tougher than “Rann”. My character is not the main character. Not too many scenes are written for my character. I’ve actually done very silent work here. This was far more challenging than “Rann”.