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Lights, camera, Atul!

Atul Kulkarni picks and chooses his roles with artistic sense

TWO OF Atul Kulkarni's movies are being shown at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) and he plays a Malayalee in both. "It's just a coincidence," the soft-spoken actor says with a laugh.

"The two directors (Anup Kurian - Manasarovar and Madhu Ambat - An Ode to Lost Love) do not know each other. I made the two films at different points of time. I do not think there are any similarities between Ravi Roy in Manasarovar and M in Ode to Lost Love."

Atul, who hit the silver screen with a power-packed role in his debut Hindi feature as the fanatic Shriram Abhyankar in Kamal Hassan's Hey Ram in '96, insists he chooses "from the roles offered to me. This is the only job I can do." And he does his job exceedingly well, with two National Awards for Hey Ram and for his portrayal of the underworld boss Potya Sawant in Madhur Bhandarkar's Chandni Bar, speaking for his talent.

Talking about how the role of Ravi came his way, Atul says, "Anup saw my work and spotted Ravi in me. It is a great quality in a director to be able to see the actor through the character. Usually it is the other way around and that results in typecasting."

Dialogue dilemma

The few sentences of Malayalam that Atul says in the movie were delivered in flawless accent. "We were shooting in Kerala and the entire crew was Malayalee. They were all talking in Malayalam and I listened carefully. Coming from Belgaum, which is in Karnataka, I suppose it was easy learning a South Indian language. And I guess I have an inclination for learning languages."

This intense actor had to drop out of engineering to pursue his first love - acting. Soon after his course at the National School of Drama, Atul made his debut in the Kesari-directed Kannada film Bhoomigite.

He has also acted in Tamil hits like Run and Telugu films like Jayam Manadera, Gowri, and Chanti. After playing a Malayalee in two English films, Atul will be making his Malyalam debut in a film "directed by Sachi". When asked about a move from mainstream films to hatke films, Atul insists, "I have not moved anywhere. I do whatever I am offered. The role should be good, the medium or language does not matter."

Future bright

Atul will be seen in his third Madhur Bhandarkar film after Chandni Bar and Satta (are we seeing another Martin Scorsese-Robert De Niro pairing or, closer home, David Dhawan-Govinda?) The film, Page 3, is Bhandarkar's reading of the ubiquitous Page 3 culture with the pretty Konkana Sen playing a journalist. Future plans include work on Rang De Basanti, directed by Rakesh Mehra, who made the stylish Aks. "The film is an international film and that is all I would like to say about it." And that is enough as far as Atul is concerned. A man who sure lets his acting talk much louder than his words!


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