A ll that Rajesh Hebbar wanted to become in life was an actor. He is in a happy space now, dividing his time between television and movies. He is currently acting in the serials Akashadoothu (Surya TV) and Nirapakkittu (Media One). More from the actor, who is also an accomplished singer and dancer…
Passionate about acting
Although I am from a business family in Palakkad, I wanted to become an actor. My mother, Padmini, a trained dancer and singer, trained me for various competitions. Both my parents were avid movie-goers and that encouraged me to pursue my dream. While in Government Victoria College, Palakkad, I participated in drama competitions and was adjudged best actor many a time. I was a regular at university youth fetes, taking part in as many items as I could. We had a music band, Primitive Knights, which remained active for many years even after we finished college. But there came a point when I had to join my family business. However, even as a businessman, I used to work as a freelancer for a national daily, mostly covering cinema. I enjoyed doing location reporting and still remember reporting on the sets of Vanaprastham and Punaradhivasam .
In pursuit of the dream
The big moment came in 2001 when actor-director Shekhar Kapur’s company Digital Talkies announced the Digital Talkies International Film Festival in New Delhi, which invited entries from aspiring filmmakers. When my father told me about it, I applied with a story idea based on a near death experience. They replied, suggesting that I could make a film based on that. Fortunately, I used to hang out with a group of people who were passionate about cinema. Amongst them were Shamdat and his brother Sadath, reputed cinematographers now. They gave me the confidence and support and we came up with a 11-minute short film, Mirage, in one-and-a-half days. It was shot at my home; me, my wife, Anitha, and my father, Ramesh Hebbar, acted in it. I was the producer and director too. It got selected in the showcase section of the film festival.
Mirage was one among the two films selected from Kerala. It was this CD that I sent to all those directors whose address I could get hold of. Among those who responded was Babu Janardanan, who cast me as the second lead in the movie Chithrakoodam (2003). Then I did T.K. Rajeevkumar’s Ivar and Sathyan Anthikad’s Manassinakkare . An important work was Shyamaprasad’s short film Ullurukkam , based on N.P. Mohammed’s work for Doordarshan, in which he invited the whole team of Mirage .
On the mini-screen
Since movies were few and far between, I decided to try my luck on television. I sent my CD to K.K.Rajeev, the only name familiar to me then. He gave me a role in Orma , a turning point for me. Since then I’ve not looked back. The icing on the cake has been awards for my roles in Thaniye, Alavuddinum Atbhutha Vilakkum, Tik Tik and Ammakkili . The best part is that I have never been typecast on television. Also, I have no complaints about compromises one has to be make while acting in a daily soap. This is my bread and butter.
I’m happy, though I’ve a long way to go. There is work on television and I’ve done over 25 movies, including works in Tamil such as Oru Ponnu, Oru Payyan, Anubhav and Free Kick in Hindi and The Nail and Tantrik Journal in English. I have a couple of movies lined up for release as well. Also, after winning Asianet’s Sundari Neeyum Sundaran Njaanum, a reality show for television celebrities, people know that I can dance, sing and do martial arts. So more stage shows are coming my way. My looks, especially my bald head and serious demeanour, give an impression that I’m good for negative roles. But now I’m getting comedy roles as well. I’m proud that I’ve made it on my own without a godfather.