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An actor with a difference

His first break came when the National School of Drama selected him in 1991. And then came tumultuous appreciation for his acting prowess when he played a villainous part in "Dushman". He is not bothered about doing only four films in four years in Bollywood, but what motivates him is versatility in roles, actor Ashutosh Rana tells MADHUR TANKHA.

ACTOR ASHUTOSH RANA: Brimming with confidence. — Photo: R.V. Moorthy.

HE SHOT into prominence in Bollywood after his performance as a psychopathic killer in his debut film, "Dushman" but doesn't want to play monotonous, repetitive stuff in every film. Ashutosh Rana plays every character with meticulous precision and finesse - whether it is a fearful bania in "Danger", who gets jittery and shivers run down his spine every time he meets his boss of dubious credentials or while playing the hero in about-to-be-released "Pardesi Re". Rana will undoubtedly get full marks if one was to judge him by his command over Hindi. Inspite of having this gift of the gab, he doesn't feel that his high baritone which splutters out of his mouth with such command and authority that it has become his USP. Seated cross-legged on a sprawling sofa at Oberoi Hotel, he says, "My command over Hindi is trade of my personality. But I want to speak with same fluency whether it is English or Marathi". Dressed in turquoise kurta and white pyjamas, the bespectacled actor doesn't believe speaking in a colloquial way even when the film shooting is not on.

In the Capital to promote his latest film, "Pardesi Re", which is slated to be released in August, Rana feels that this film has to do with "nationalism which is different from patriotism. Why don't we burst crackers when our cricket team drubs the West Indies but against arch enemy Pakistan, it is a matter of great pride to trounce them. Why don't we hold our head up when we meet Bush. Our country badly needs national spirit and not bad blood over any neighbour". He jocularly says not to compare his dancing abilities in " Pardesi Re" with Govinda or Shah Rukh Khan. " You can compare my dance style with their first film and not 15th one", he says.

Will the audience after seeing you as a diabolical villain, accept you as a hero? " Amitabh Bachchan after playing villain was able to metamorphose into a hero and so many stars like Shatrughan Sinha, Vinod Khanna, Kamal Hassan and Nana Patekar played villainous role with excellent histrionics but have simultaneously done outstanding work as hero. The only difference between these actors and me is that the audience has accepted me as a person. If someone loves me as a person, he will inquire about my ailing father, children and wish my wife. This love and affection comes as the producer or my fans adores me. The man in the street is fascinated by my personality. So even if I perform below his expectation he will still come to see my flick".

Ashutosh feels every person has Jekyll and Hyde qualities in him. "A doctor who performs operations regularly in a fit of anger may throw scissors at somebody or an engineer in spontaneous outburst may throw hammer at his colleague. Acting is part of my life. I am not the negative character that I portrayed in Dushman. Nor am I like that bania in Danger." So you aren't like that character in Danger, who can go to any extent to get the bag bursting with green notes? Rana says, "Money is byproduct of life. I believe in mental capacity of work. If you show Vajpayeeji (Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee) as an actor, then you've to highlight his poetic aspect. If I am playing different characters like taxi driver, executive or coolie, then my mannerism, dancing style, language and most importantly, walking style, has to differ.

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