The young and handsome Diganth gave up an MBA seat in Australia, quit modelling to be in films

I brave torrential rains driving to distant Abhimaan Studios to meet Diganth. That's because he's slippery as an eel. His phone is either switched off or he forgets to call back. Complaining to his Guru, Yograj Bhat does the trick. He's shooting for a game show with Yograj and the cast of “Pancharangi” to be aired on Ganesh Chathurthi. He wins the first prize, a handful of currency answering a simple question, wishes the viewers a happy festival and hurries off-stage. He answers my questions between mouthfuls of mouth-watering avalakki bath.

Did someone look at you and say, ‘hey you should be in the movies’?

I always wanted to be associated with the glamour industry. My first film, “Miss California” was a disaster, unfortunately. Then I started modelling. I got a second chance through Yograj Bhat's “Mungaru Maley”. That's when I got noticed.

You are a degree holder. Is it because this is an insecure field?

No, I wanted to do my MBA in Australia but cancelled everything because of movies. I realised I belonged to cinema which is a passion. My father is a commerce professor and he obviously asked me not to join the films. He wasn't very happy initially, but now he's cool. Be the best in whatever you do is his only advice.

For somebody who claims to be passionate, you chose a bit small part in a film directed by a then unknown Yograj Bhat.

I was desperate and would have done anything. He didn't choose me. I chose him. It was two years since my debut film had flopped. I was not happy being a model. It had become monotonous and I hated smiling to push a product. I persisted till I got the role.

At some point of time did you feel jealous of Ganesh?

Definitely. It would be abnormal not to. Even the biggest of stars would have felt they should have been the hero in this cute love story. I later realised I wouldn't have carried the role so well. Ganesh had nearly ten years of experience and a good sense of timing. I'm happy for him. After “Galipata” I am more confident.

Your progression has been gradual. You've done very few films in the last four years.

I think that's good. I did a lot of multi-starrers which helped hone my acting skills. It also helped me know the industry. When a multi-starrer flopped it didn't affect my career. Now I'm getting a lot of offers as a hero. I have come up gradually. If I had shot up and then flopped it would have been very humiliating and sad.

Even now you can't call yourself an established star can you?

Not at all. I don't want to be a big star. My philosophy is to do my best and leave the rest to the audience. I know I'm not a big star but I want to be part of good movies. I'm not in the numbers game.

Isn't it high time you told a section of the press to stop referring to you as ‘dhoodh peda'?

(Laughs) I think they call me that with love. I was referred to as ‘dhoodh peda' in ‘Gaalipata' and it just became popular but personally yes they should stop referring to me like that.

I don't know about ‘Pancharangi' but you have had it easy with roles which don't demand too much till now.

I think people have just started recognising me. Even in the industry it will take time for people to come to me with a good script. I'm just a few films old. I'm being choosy. I did get offers to play negative roles but didn't have confidence in the director or the script. I will continue doing regular roles but will wait for a terrific script if I have to experiment.

You look very laidback, as if someone is forcing you to act. You are not accessible and don't look too serious about your work.

That's how I am. I am serious about my work but take things very lightly. I don't do things I don't enjoy. I've also played characters who are laidback and probably that's showing. I guess I'll have to do an action film to break that. Nobody can force me to do something I don't like.

Tell me about this special bond that you share with Yograj Bhat. It's rare these days.

That's very true. He's very humble. He's the kind of guy you cannot dislike. You feel like talking to him and just being with him. I thought he would forget me after ‘MM' and move on. I was very happy when he offered me ‘Gaalipata'. Spending ten minutes with him you feel you've learnt something. He treats everyone equally. We are buddies now.

Are you nervous about ‘Pancharangi'?

It's a responsibility because the expectations are huge. It also happens to be Yograj's film as a producer too. I hope I've lived up to his expectations. I'm waiting for the audience response. Yograj likens it to the anxiety of an expectant mother. We are tense but confident about the product.