Kannada actor Naveen Shankar’s name is still synonymous with Janardhan Reddy’s film, Gultoo, about two aspiring entrepreneurs who get enmeshed in the virtual world. Naveen’s character had shades of grey. He acted alongside seasoned actors such as Rangayana Raghu, actor/director Pawan Kumar ( Lucia and U Turn ) and Sonu Gowda.
Naveen’s interest in cinema compelled him to quit engineering. He worked in Kannada television as a news anchor and talk show host. “It was during this time that people from the film industry contacted me and Gultoo happened.”
Naveen has hosted and anchored shows for U2 (Udaya Music) and dabbled in theatre in Bengaluru.
Hondisi Bareyiri, which had its virtual poster launch last weekend, has Naveen playing the lead. The film is directed by Ramenahalli Jagannath, who has been a long time associate of Rockline Venkatesh.
The film, Naveen says, covers the protagonist’s journey from college to middle age. “There is a lot of scope for acting. The film starts at a time when smartphones did not exist till the age of digital denizens. Naveen is paired opposite Archana Jois ( KGF Chapter 1 fame). The film also features Praveentej, Shri, Bhavana Rao and Samyukta Hornad.
Naveen chooses his projects carefully. “I take time understanding a story and listen to it many times. The first time, I am just a listener, the second, I listen in the shoes of the character that I am to play. If at that stage the character resonates with me in some way, I get on board and start reading and working on bringing the character to life on screen. As an actor, one has to be alert during this time, as sometimes even the most mundane things can give you a new perspective, which will help you better your role. If a film or a role is approached with honesty, the results are amazing.”
Naveen, who hails from the city of Ilkal, in North Karnataka, feels now is a good time to make films as OTT has changed audience’s perspective. “They are exposed to so much good content that one cannot get away with mediocrity any more.”
While creating global content, Naveen says we should not lose sight of our culture. ”We have to project our local culture to the world out there, because only we, who are so well-versed with our lifestyle and heritage, can do justice to it.”
A case in point are the song sequences so dear to us, Naveen says. “Songs are integral to us. Many of us grew up listening to songs. In Ilkal, we live in large, joint families and many women sing while they perform household chores. Abandoning songs completely will be difficult for us. Songs are versatile and we have used them intelligently. Some songs are used as a narrative, some to bring out an emotion and some purely for entertainment. They are a powerful medium and we will never outgrow using songs in films. If we try and use them as they were done three decades ago, we will fail.”
The actor is also working on Kshetrapati set in North Karnataka. “This will bring alive the rural life in all its resplendent colour. Archana will be playing a major role in this film.”