Dreams and destiny

Nataraj, who captivated us with his performance in Rama Rama Re dons a different avataar in his next film

His very first film was that of a convict on a death row, who escapes from prison. He played the role of convict Scandal Raja in the acclaimed film Rama Rama Re. In spite of having barely any dialogues in the film, Nataraj S Bhat did make the audience and the film industry sit up and notice him. His role made such an impact on people that today he is popular as “Rama Rama Re Nataraj”.

Dreams and destiny

Dramatically different

In the film, he donned a long unruly beard and unkempt hair with dirt smeared on his face. For his next film, Kalbettada Darodekoraru, directed by Deepak Madhuvanalli (slotted for release this month), he sports a totally new look.

“This role is just the opposite of what I played in Rama Rama Re. In Kalbettada..., I play a lively young college boy, who plays pranks and is adventurous,” says Nataraj, who hails from Kadur, where he says “there were no activities related to cinema or theatre.”

Dreams and destiny

Yet, Nataraj was bitten by the acting bug and holds the late actor Shankar Nag responsible for it. “I was a young boy and Shankar Nag had come to our home town for a shoot. The whole town went berserk. My father carried me on his shoulders and together we took off to the shooting spot. The manner in which people were going crazy just to get a glimpse of the star triggered my curiosity about films,” recalls the actor, who then went back to his studies and cinema took a back seat, for a while.

Dreams and destiny

He studied law during the day and in the evenings practised theatre with Dharmanna Kadur, who played the role of Dharma in Rama Rama Re.

“We came to Bengaluru with a play and won the best play award. We were also applauded so much for our acting skills that I got a high with just that,” laughs Nataraj, who then decided he would get into cinema, no matter what.

“Mornings I would study, evening I would do theatre and in between, whatever time I had, I would attend every audition that happened in and around my home town,” shares the actor, who finally decided to try his luck in Bengaluru.

“I came here in 2009 and it has been like a 10-year challenge. I had no clue about how to start or whom to contact. I survived by doing mimicry and continued to audition. People would say they’ll call me back, but that call just never came. After eight months, it got so frustrating that I almost thought of winding up and returning home to practise law.”

But destiny had other plans. Nataraj got a chance to work in TV serials as an assistant director. “They paid me ₹3,000 and it became my school too,” shares the actor, who later also assisted film director P Sheshadri and “did small roles”. That was also a time when he connected with his childhood friend, Sathya Prakash, director of Rama Rama Re. “Ramanna Kadur, Sathya and I played cricket as boys. Sathya was working with Nagabharana. We touched base, built our team and started making our own short films including Jayanagar 4th block, which brought us a little fame. The same team decided to make Rama Rama Re. We approached many actors, producers and directors, and they were just not interested in it. They found the story and the narration ‘weird’ and said it will not work. After knocking on many doors, finally we decided to make the film and act in it. I was cast as Scandal Raja.”

The role was a challenge, says Nataraj. “We had to work hard to make the film click.”

Dreams and destiny

Into the role

To prepare for the role, Nataraj visited prisons, spent time with inmates to study their body language, their social skills and understand their psyche. “This was arranged by a friend of mine. I imbibed whatever I wanted and realised people who have been in prison are nervous of everyone once they are outside.”

Of his role in Kalbettada..., Nataraj says, “This film is based on a novel of the same name. I found the story intriguing. It was written for high school children, we changed it to college students and introduced a female character. ”

The film will be released by February-end after which Nataraj looks forward to working with Sathya again.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 12:19:00 AM |

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