Fresh from the success of Googly and with Raja Huli releasing today, Yash admits it is the attention that drew him to acting.
He was established as a saleable star with Drama but with Googly he bowled over the box-office. Yash is the archetypal star — he dances well, performs bone-breaking stunts and can act too. The characters he plays are mostly arrogant but emotionally vulnerable which is what connects him to viewers. The fate of Raja Huli releasing today will prove whether he is a shooting star or he has carved a permanent place in the cinematic constellation.
You did theatre, TV and then entered cinema. Was this a conscious decision?
Yes it was. I always wanted to become an actor. I was passionate about theatre. I wanted to become a hero but was clueless how to go about it. I lived in Mysore and Rangayana was next door but I didn’t watch any plays. It was in Bangalore that I joined Benaka. I acted in a lot of social plays. I realised it was not as easy as I thought. There was no money in theatre so I started acting in serials. There I realized there’s a technique to acting. Cinema came next.
TV is pressure free and pays promptly. Did you want to just continue?
No my aim was always cinema. TV was a stepping stone. I was not satisfied by either the money or the fame.
Did you do the usual rounds of producers’ offices or did offers fall on your lap?
Opportunity has always knocked on my door, by God’s grace. I’m committed to my craft. I wanted to be different even in tiny parts. Audiences don’t differentiate between TV and cinema. It all depends on how we project ourselves. Shanshank watched me on TV and offered me my first film.
What draws you to acting? Is it just the fame and money?
I think it is the attention. I used to dance when I was very young and everyone made me feel special. I was pampered and got special attention. It’s the applause. I got addicted to it from a young age.
Moggina Manasu was heroine centric but you got noticed and an award too…
That was again a conscious decision. I had rejected about seven films before that. I was not on the posters of MM and appeared only in the second half. For me it’s not the length but how I perform that is important. Theatre teaches you that.
You gained success gradually...
It started with Modhalasala. People appreciated my effort. I probably wouldn’t have been able to handle instant success.
Yograj Bhat rejected you for Manasare but you accepted his Drama. You hold no grudges…
I don’t think that way. People investing creatively and financially will think a thousand times. Today they come to me because I’ve proved myself. I have a positive way of looking at things.
You were not too keen on remakes. If Kirathaka had not succeeded would you have accepted Raja Huli?
I’m not keen even now. I don’t know. I probably would have thought twice. Remakes don’t make a difference to the actor. We just portray the director’s visualization. I don’t follow the actor in the original. The interpretation of the role is entirely mine. I go by the content. Raja Huli is close to life.
Were you surprised by Googly’s success?
I don’t spend too much time with the film fraternity. I spend it with my fans and old friends. I know what they expect from me on-screen. At its core, the film is about possessiveness. It’s a hidden emotion. People related to that. My character showed common emotions like jealousy which heroes don’t usually exhibit. The scale of the success was definitely surprising. I feel I connect with the common man. You saw the flipside of fame and fortune when you were accused of cheating in your hometown…
They are innocent people. This is the price you pay for fame. It happened during the shooting of Googly. I became more passionate. People supported me. They realized I come from humble beginnings. I learnt a lot about life. My fans realized the truth.
Choosing a film is difficult especially after you attain success…
You are right. People shouldn’t feel I’m a fluke. The success of my films tells me the audiences love me. I stick to the basics. I don’t try anything drastically different. The narration should excite me. I should be eager to go on the sets.
Usually a star with a success like Googly starts thinking he’s the sole reason for the film’s success.
That is very wrong. That’s human tendency. I’m not saying I’m above that. The challenge is to resist that. The star brings in the initial crowd but the actor should dominate. I still feel scared when I look into the mirror. I’m not trying to be modest but I’m still surprised when people treat me like a star. My friends keep me grounded. I treat Yash the star as a brand and keep his ego happy but as a person I’m very simple. I know nothing is permanent. I like the attention but am not attached to it.