Avinash Divakar back on screen with ‘Chase’

Actor-entrepreneur Avinash Divakar talks about his new Kannada film and his life before its release

Updated - July 20, 2022 12:32 pm IST

Published - July 20, 2022 10:37 am IST

Actor Avinash Divakar and stills from the move Chase

Actor Avinash Divakar and stills from the move Chase | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Avinash Divakar’s last appearance on the big screen may have been six years ago but in his latest release, Chase, the actor brings the same subtlety and underplay he is known for, to his role as a CCB officer in hot pursuit of criminals.  

Like his previous film Last Bus (2016), Chase is also a thriller, a genre that Avinash confesses he is really drawn to. But what sealed the deal for him was the opportunity to play a cop in a film that revolves around the issue of the medical mafia. 

“I don’t like working on commercial films with characters that are overhyped. I prefer content-oriented subjects,” he says.  

It would be wrong to call Chase Avinash’s comeback because though the film saw a delayed release last week owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, it was shot in 2017-18. The gamble, however, was working with debutante director, Vilok Shetty.  

“Vilok had seen my previous work in Last Bus and that’s how he came to me. There were ups and downs as we had our own opinions about how some things should look, because I was also the art director for this film. However, for a newcomer, Vilok is technically sound,” says Avinash.  

Actor Avinash Divakar and stills from the move Chase

Actor Avinash Divakar and stills from the move Chase | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

To prepare for the role, Avinash met with a few real-life cops to understand how they operate. “They don’t trust people easily,” he says. “There’s always an air of suspicion. But Vilok didn’t want me to portray a tough cop as the character also demanded that I be vulnerable and emotional, so we kept it subtle,” Avinash says.  

Grandson of the legendary Kannada comedian Narasimharaju, Avinash’s journey into acting has traced an uneven graph owing to his many other pursuits. A graduate of Chitrakala Parishat, Avinash is also a visual artist, an art director and designer for ad films, and the CEO of an OTT platform.  

He came into the industry quite by accident, through his brother Arvind Divakar’s directorial, Jugaari (2010). A decade on, commercial success is yet to shine on him. Avinash attributes this in part to his inhibitions.  

Actor Avinash Divakar and stills from the move Chase

Actor Avinash Divakar and stills from the move Chase | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Earlier, he says, he had a “mental block” regarding ‘dancing around trees’ for the camera. But having spent more time in front of the camera, he’s now determined to overcome these self-imposed restrictions. A reimagination of himself has only just begun and Avinash is aware of the hard work that will have to follow. But what also matters, he feels, is the timing.  

“As an artist, I’ve already made it in my head. As an actor, there’s still some path to forge. But there comes a time in our lives when things just click; a turning point where you tell yourself that you can now perform better and do justice to a wider range of characters. That’s an experience I’ve been having with acting recently,” he says.  

Moreover, given his many interests, Avinash is honest about the fact that he was always an artist, never an actor. And a product of these artistic sensibilities is Katte, an OTT platform founded by the ‘Jugaari brothers’ in 2021 to exclusively cater to Karnataka’s entertainment needs and promote local artistes.  

The aim of Katte was to capture the essence of Karnataka and its people through shows made in its many languages and regional dialects including Tulu, Kodava, Konkani, Havyaka, Uttara Karnataka, old Mysore region, Kannada and Kanglish.  

Actor Avinash Divakar and stills from the move Chase

Actor Avinash Divakar and stills from the move Chase | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Avinash explains how, over the last 30 years, children are being sent to top schools to learn English, leaving Kannada in a perilous state. “Our answer is to come up with good original content across age groups, from rhymes, bedtime stories, quizzes and reality shows for children as well as web series, films, sports, travel and food content for adults. Our vision is for Katte to become a cultural platform that will take Kannada to every household and showcase the finer cultural nuances that we witness every 30 km in Karnataka,” Avinash explains.  

For now, the platform has shows like Namma Oorina RasikaruComedy Pantru and several short films. An interesting line-up of children’s content including an interactive quiz on Kannada and Karnataka as well as a music show called Music Pettige, similar to Coke Studio, has also been planned.  

However, a year since inception, these best-laid plans are either awaiting execution or release owing to a lack of funding. Avinash believes investors are scared to take a chance on something that is still in its nascent stage.  

“People don’t trust anything new. Investors are not sure if an OTT solely for Kannada content will be profitable. Everyone would rather put their weight behind companies that are already established.”  

The only solution, the actor-entrepreneur feels, is to keep experimenting and pumping new things into the ocean of content. And once things fall into place, Avinash is confident the audience will seek out Katte for all things fresh, local and cultural.   

“Just like with Netflix and Amazon, solid content and an initial promotional push is all that is needed. The subscribers will themselves market the content by word-of-mouth,” says Avinash.  

In the immediate future, Avinash is excited about a feature film project that he is likely to both direct and star in. “It is still in its scripting stage and may come out in the next 6-7 months. That is where I’m hoping to make a difference with my acting,” he says.   

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