‘It was easier to be a villain’


With three back-to-back noteworthy films — Sahasam, Loukyam and Jil — Gopichand is beaming. He’s hit a purple patch and says this is the best phase of his 15-year career. “There were phases when one film would work and the next one would pull me down. I knew that it would take one hit to turn things around and kept working towards it. When you accept you’ve made wrong choices and learn from them, the rest falls in place,” he says.

His latest film, Jil, was pitched to him during the making of Loukyam. “I had always wanted to do a sleek love story,” he says. Jil pitches him as a fire service officer, a part not many heroes have done. The most memorable portrayal came from Kamal Haasan in Micheal Madana Kamaraju. “I hesitated, wondering if I can pull it off. The director made it clear that the fire service is just a backdrop. We took liberties,” he says. The liberties meant that the hero zooms around in a stylish, expensive bike, which fire fighters may not be able to afford. Gopcihand reasons, “We wanted people to come and have a good time, look at aesthetic visuals.”

In the scripting stage, the characters of Gopichand and his friends worked in the fire services. Brainstorming sessions later, the team decided to make a few family members also a part of the department, to give a stronger emotional hook. Gopichand recalls shooting a sequence in a fire service station and interacting with fire fighters. “They are true heroes. We run away from fire while they have to walk into it. The water pipes are heavy; can’t be handled by a single person.”

Looking back, Gopichand wonders if Jil should have had more comedy. “Apart from a few scenes involving me and Urvashi, there’s not much comedy,” he avers. His previous film, Loukyam, was a laugh riot that dished out a been-there-done-that formula, where a group of characters are thrown together in a house and mistaken/ changed identities lead to comic situations. “True, but I haven’t been part of those films. Writer Paruchuri Gopalakrishna once told me that even if the story is the same, it appears fresh when it features a different hero. Several films have followed the Baashha (Rajinikanth) template. Likewise, though Balakrishna did Samarasimha Reddy and Narasimha Naidu, Chiranjeevi made Indra, set in a similar milieu. If the storytelling is good, similar templates will work. Only 10 per cent of the audience looks for something new,” he says.

Next, Gopichand is working on a film by B. Gopal. “I choose the best of what is offered to me,” says the actor who entered cinema to fulfil his father T. Krishna’s dream. “Though I’ve made a name for myself, I haven’t been able to do a revolutionary film, a genre my father was known for,” he muses. The 80s had its share of films centred on rebellions. The dynamics have changed since. “The way we look at social problems has changed. If I get a good script, I’d like to do a film in that space.”

Gopichand says he wouldn’t mind doing a negative character again. “ Jayam, Nijam and Varsham made me popular. If I am offered a weighty negative role now, I’d take it up. When I switched to acting as a hero, I understood the constraints. For instance, a hero has to have a restrained dialogue delivery. It’s easier to be a villain and put in an uninhibited performance.”

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Printable version | Dec 1, 2021 1:57:17 AM |

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