Friday Review

Success is not final

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Naveen Kumar, alias Yash, is the reigning superstar of Kannada cinema who believes that success is a burden if you carry it

His real name is Naveen Kumar but the person who re-christened him Yash was obviously a clairvoyant. If you go purely by the adage ‘a star is as good as his last release’, Yash is the reigning superstar in Kannada cinema. His last five films have blazed the box-office. His involvement isn’t restricted to acting. He grooms budding writers into directors and partakes in every discussion including the music. Even Sudeep, known to be parsimonious in praising a colleague is impressed. You can't plan success, but Yash feels it’s easy to design a successful film and he doesn’t say it with an air of arrogance, just confidence. With his track record you dare not disagree. The security outside his bungalow out of sheer habit says, Yash is not at home. A domestic help ushers you into a spacious, but sparsely furnished living room. Success sits comfortably on his broad shoulders. There is calmness in his eyes and clarity in his thoughts as he answers with confidence.

Is maintaining success more difficult than attaining it?

I’ve never felt I have to maintain it. It’s a journey. I think what’s next. Success is the biggest burden if you carry it. I don’t take it seriously. I enjoy the process of trying to achieve something. It’s boring if you cling to success.

You’ve had five successive hits. Do you feel the industry is not recognising it?

If you mean the people around me then that doesn’t matter. They never thought I’d achieve so much anyway. Industry wise I think it takes time to digest someone’s success.

Somewhere do you feel like an outsider?

The film fraternity has welcomed and accepted me. They treat me well but I’m always an outsider. I want to be one among my fans. It’s nice to be an outsider, know what they want and deliver.

Everyone including some big stars talk about your creative involvement in the films you star in. Where did this start?

It started with theatre. I was an ordinary, carefree, irresponsible guy but when I got into theatre, I realised a few things about personality. That makes a huge difference. Theatre teaches us trust and teamwork. Everyone has to work towards one goal and that is to entertain people. Roles are not segregated. It’s not like I’m an actor so I just go and act. Everybody has to contribute. Senior actors and directors have helped me wear shoes since there’s little time and we may have to switch characters. It kills your ego. That’s the first step towards success. I realised most things about the film industry are overrated and glorified. Everybody wants to enjoy the attention. I’m trying to change that. I sometimes act as a spot boy on the sets. I’m a star only on-screen. In theatre you have to be familiar with all the characters. I’m applying that. Knowing only your role makes it monotonous. When everyone contributes, the product is better.

Is that why you stopped working with established directors?

Well, not really, but I’m not sure how everyone will like this attitude. I know it will make a lot of people unhappy. I feel, at the end of the day, I’m responsible for the ticket buyer’s money. It’s a creative job and there’ll be differences of opinion. I have worked with Yograj Bhat who was cool. Shashank was sweet enough to provide me with the script even though I was a newcomer. I’m not trying to preach, but I feel the profession is more important than position.

There’s a very fine line between involvement and interference. Where does one end and the other begin?

Yes that’s a very interesting question. It’s basically the trust between the director and the actor. Trust and love stimulate healthy arguments or discussions. When the ego intrudes that becomes interference. We have to realise that we’re fighting for a better product.

You’re getting the entire credit for the success of ‘Ramachari’ which negates the contribution of the director.

That’s a very unfortunate thing that’s happening. I tell my directors that this is inevitable and they have to accept it. When a new director works with me, it’s a package. They get all the facilities and enter the big league. That’s a blessing but they have to deal with the negative side. I don’t take the entire credit. I just monitor the proceedings. I probably ask them a couple of more questions than others. Otherwise it’s entirely their vision and hard work.

What is it that you saw in ‘Rangi Taranga’ that made you support the film?

It was probably intuition. I watched the trailer and liked it. I called them because I know it’s difficult to break through the system. I liked the team. They were kind enough to show me the film. I liked the film but asked them to trim the length. The director did that to an extent.

At a recent awards function you said you’ll strive to take Kannada cinema to the next level. Shouldn’t you be striving to get a wider audience?

We’re doing that. There’re a lot of non-Kannadigas who’re watching my films and anything interesting. We’re wooing Kannadigas in other states too. We need consistently good and successful films which can change the scenario. At least six hits a year can do wonders I feel. All this Telugu belt and Hindi belt within our state is nonsense. My films are doing very well there. ‘Ramachari’ created records in Raichur. Things are changing. I also feel our industry is doing much better than others. The investment and returns are terribly lop-sided in other languages. Bigger budgets don’t mean a better industry.

At this stage if you’re offered a film like ‘Moggina manasu’ will you accept?

No, I won’t. The path I’ve chosen is different now. The expectations are different. The film was good but my contribution was limited.

Isn’t this a very narrow path that you’ve chosen? You can’t experiment with looks or characters.

I’m experimenting with characters. The look may be the same but the personality will be different. There’s variation in characters. There’ll be a change in body language. The differences are subtle not drastic.

For such a balanced person, was it necessary to take pot-shots at rivals with your dialogues?

It was meant to be harmless. Every hero will have a dialogue to please his fans. It’s okay as long as no one takes it personally. If someone has taken it personally then I’m sorry.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 4:03:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/naveen-kumar-alias-yash-is-the-reigning-superstar-of-kannada-cinema-who-believes-that-success-is-a-burden-if-you-carry-it/article7818339.ece

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