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chat Actor Gopichand on what keeps him ticking and thinking as he prepares for the release of his latest film. y. sunita chowdhary listens in

I t is easy to fall in love with Gopichand. He is painfully shy, but if the rapport is right he lets loose a fusillade of intelligent humour. He doesn't know diplomacy, looks one in the eye and talks straight. Director Siva, who worked with him in Souryam and Sankham, says, if Gopi proposes to a girl on screen, people believe him and if he bashes up the baddies to a pulp, ten or twenty in a row, people believe him. His work, and his smile, are that genuine. Most of his audience clap, whistle and go berserk when the handsome six-footer appears on screen, and it gets difficult to watch the film amidst all the first-day hungama.

Recollect his villainous role in Varsham. The women went gaga over his competently contemptuous work but the actor modestly attributes the bias towards his character to the brilliant writing. He thinks the villain got the sympathy because he fell in love with the girl. Also, the relationships etched between the trio were beautiful and the chemistry he shared with Prabhas was wonderful. Gopi is very comfortable with Prabhas and they want to do a film together some day. Many Hindi actors revel in negative characters, so why are our stars averse to such roles?

“I'm not,” says Gopichand. “I'm willing to be the bad guy and get knocked out in the climax by the hero if the role is justified, but I don't want to be a part of two or three fights and disappear.”

He did attempt something different in films like Okkadunnadu, but people's image of Gopichand as the angry, volatile man from Nijam, Jayam and Varsham has been strongly imprinted in their memory and they thirst to see him wield the weapon in every film. So when a director comes to narrate a story to him, he begins his line with the hero pulling out a knife and flinging it across the thugs. “I plead with them to go on with the story first, the action scenes can come later,” giggles the actor.

Gopichand is never perturbed by lows in life, since he has learnt hard lessons very early. His father, director T. Krishna, passed away when he was eight. He lost his granddad, and then his brother died in an accident. His home and office suddenly became empty and people disappeared. He remembers being at a loss for words. He didn't know how to talk to his mother after the bereavement when he came home from his studies abroad. It was his brother's death that prompted him to make movies his career. Before that, he had wanted to become a businessman.

He stayed idle for eight months after his debut film as a hero tanked. “ Ekkado oka mondi confidence vundhi, nenu succeed avuthaanani,” he quips.

He has a loyal fan base, and he remembers being touched by the affection of a school kid. During the shooting of Golimar, at a school for the blind, a small child woke up at 4 a.m. and waited to speak to Gopichand. He didn't know how Gopichand looked, but he acted and reeled off dialogues from his famous films. The low-profile actor says he never refuses an invitation from friends in the industry. He does have friends but is not into pubbing. Once the pancake makeup is peeled off, it's home, sweet home. Gopichand's movie Wanted, starring Deeksha Seth, releases January 26.


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