What inspired you to be an actor?
I actually wanted to be a director initially, but my father who was already in the film industry suggested I give a shot to acting. I remember how he’d always tell me that my facial features are of a ‘hero’. So basis his advice, I did my first film Chellamae in 2004, which was an undeniable success luckily. Working on that film and seeing the joy I brought to the screen inspired me to be an actor and I’ve never looked back since. I do eventually want to dabble in film direction, but I love acting and performing.
Were your parents ever against joining the film industry? Or were they always supportive?
My family has always been extremely supportive. In fact, my father encouraged me to join the film business and passed on his wisdom if I ever felt stuck at any point. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the guidance I did growing up.
What’s one change you’d wish to bring to the film industry?
I’d definitely wish to make it a bit more inclusive and welcoming for newcomers. There are OTT platforms now that do a wonderful job at this, but this change also needs to translate to the big screen. It was easy to debut and flourish as a newcomer around the time I did my first film, around 20 years ago! We have so many gems of actors from that time now, but now it’s extremely challenging for a newcomer to make that kind of debut or even stand their ground after it.
Tell us a memorable moment from your initial years as an actor.
In 2005, just a year into my career, I started being called ‘the boy next door’ by my fans and media. And I loved that tag! Soon after I discovered my absolute favourite genre: action. And I became the ‘action hero.’ There’s been no looking back since. It’s been almost two decades since then and I’m still in love with the genre and the tag.
Another memorable moment for me was when I got my first set of stitches after performing a stunt. I’m now up to 109! But I love them, they’re my battle scars, something to show for my two-something decades in the movies.
You’re one of the best action heroes of our country. You’ve conquered the action genre. But what other genre would you wish to explore?
I’m a fan of dark, twisted, psychological thrillers, so I’d love to explore that space and kind of go into a Gone Girl genre. I feel I’ve not done enough of that yet.
A project you really enjoyed working on.
I’ve honestly enjoyed every project I’ve worked on. They’re all very dear to me. I learn something new (in a professional and personal capacity) on each project. Every film I work on makes me a better actor bit by bit. Even though I’ve done my fair share of films now, starting a new project is still a surreal feeling. Sometimes I feel like pinching myself because often I can’t believe that I get to work in the same industry as Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan.
After taking on a new project, which part of the process do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy every step! Whether it’s research, filming, pre or post-production! You’d think that the role of an actor starts and ends at filming but I personally love being involved in all aspects of the film. That being said, I understand there’s a thin line between intervention and involvement, and mine is truly just involvement. I don’t want everyone to cater to my whims and fancies but I want to ensure it’s a collaborative process for all of us.
Would you like to share a personal and professional goal for 2023?
A personal goal would be to hopefully learn French this year. Professionally, I would like to direct more; I’m feeling really optimistic about both.
Your film Laththi is releasing soon. What’s your favourite memory from this project?
The dangerous stunts I did in this film. I’ve filmed fistfights, been bruised and bleeding, and broken my hand by punching a car bonnet. There are so many! I never use a stunt double because I want the sequence to be as real as it can get, so I’ve got injured many times. In the end, it’s all worth it. There’s a scene where I’m jumping from the fourth floor of a building, and while shooting it, I requested the team to have 12 or even 16 cameras filming this because I knew I won’t be able to do a retake. Even now I intentionally try to avoid passing that building whenever I’m close by because I’m reminded of the aftermath of that jump.
How would you describe your personal style?
It’s very relaxed, basic yet stylish. If I had to put it in words, I’d call it the ‘common man style’. I don’t particularly consider myself a fashion enthusiast, I’m happy in a T-shirt and jeans or a white shirt and trousers. But I like being well-dressed and put together. When it comes to style, I truly believe that less is more so I always make old-school wardrobe choices and stick with the classics.
Last Google search: Laththi on Book My show. I wanted to check how the visuals are looking for the film
Something you always have with you: My wallet, keys and phone
If you could have one superpower, it would be: I would want three. 1: Teleportation! It would solve half my life’s problems and travel would be so much easier. Not to mention the amount of time I’d save; 2. The power to get into the heart of a woman and read her mind; 3: To know the real secret to success.
A song you’re currently listening to on loop: Not listening to a particular song on loop at the moment but I’ve been listening to Steve Harvey a lot, I enjoy his podcasts and speeches!
Your idea of an indulgent meal: I love sushi, especially sashimi! I can eat it for all three meals, 7 days a week. So I’d definitely want to indulge in that.
A skill you’d like to develop in 2023: I love physical training and I’m always looking for ways to increase my knowledge on that, so this year I really want to try my hand at gymnastics.
A show you’re currently watching: I’ve been watching The Stories of a Serial Killer. It’s very interesting and gripping.
Location courtesy: The Windflower Resorts & Spa, Mysuru
Wardrobe courtesy: The Collective