- The Test Case trailer: Nimrat Kaur’s remarkable performance could make for a watchable military drama
- Manikarnika The Queen of Jhansi: Atul Kulkarni doing sword-fighting stunts on his own, without any body double
- Manikarnika The Queen Of Jhansi: Atul Kulkarni joins the Kangana Ranaut starrer as Tatya Tope
It has been 20 years since Atul Kulkarni debuted on the silver screen. He is well known across the country for his work in Hindi, Kannada, Marathi, Malayalam, Telugu and Tamil movies. He has portrayed a variety of characters in all shades and is a delight to watch on screen. His recent release, Raees is a blockbuster hit and The Ghazi Attack is all set to hit the silver screens on February 17, 2017. In a tête-à-tête with indianexpress.com, Kulkarni shares his happiness over the recent hit, the evolution of Indian cinema, and his envy for late actor Om Puri’s talent.
How does it feel to have completed two decades in the industry?
Blessed, happy and satisfied — that is exactly how I feel. This year has been quite different. I have never experienced back to back releases in my career before. I am looking forward to four other releases this year. The Ghazi Attack followed by Pranaam with Rajeev Khandelwal. Pranaam is based on the student politics in Lucknow and Uttar Pradesh in general. Another interesting film that I am working on is a modern horror film titled Vash, written and co-produced by Siddharth Narayan.
WATCH VIDEO | Kay Kay Menon & Atul Kulkarni- Cinema Always Threatens To Change, That’s Our Hope
It was never my intention to become an actor. I especially did not think it would be possible to survive solely by acting. I was never ambitious and I feel that I am the kind of individual who is happy with what he has and feel that my career is only a part of my life. I think my life comes ahead of my profession and I feel that people who treat their profession as their life are making a mistake. Considering all of this, I am happy with where I am today.
Rana Daggubati told us that he was gasping for sunlight by the end of The Ghazi Attack shoot. What was your experience like?
Sankalp Reddy, the director made it easy for all us. Even before approaching me for my role, he had built a submarine in his garage in Hyderabad. He shot a few scenes here with the help of his theatre friends and brought it along with his script to explain what shooting in a submarine would feel like. His homework regarding the backdrop, the plot, even the engineering behind everything was en pointe! When we accepted to play our parts, we knew this was going to be a difficult film to make. There were constraints in terms of space, technicians and as actors, we had to make sure that each scene came through as required with these constraints. But when I saw the movie for the first time, I felt proud. I was proud of the content, the execution and proud to be an Indian because I honestly feel that we have pulled it off successfully.
Tell us about Devraj, your character in the film.
Devraj is an executive officer and his basic duty is to execute the commands given by his captain. However, playing this part was intriguing because of the character played by Rana Daggubati, of Arjun — a Government deputy who comes as the third force. Devraj has a dynamic relationship with everybody in this story, and the way it flows with Arjun’s character is very interesting and intriguing!
You have worked with Om Puri on this film, and other films too; tell us about your experience working with the late veteran actor.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have scenes with Om Puriji in this film, but I have worked with him on other films. He was from National School of Drama, and so was I, so we had that connect always. We have met outside of work as well. As we all know he was a brilliant actor, and he was versatile. I sometimes envy his versatility! He was not only a great actor but also a fantastic soul. It is really unfortunate that he passed away so early, and with such a bad health. I feel all of us need to concentrate more on our health than we do.
Do you think India is starstruck? You have worked on a big film, Raees, that had a popular star in it, and now Ghazi is releasing. Which of these is an actor’s delight?
I think in last three to five years, Hindi cinema has given the answer to this question. Could you imagine talking about the same genre a decade back? Would it have been possible to make Neerja, Rustom or Airlift?
Every year such films are released. Be it Queen or Nasser Bhai’s (Naseeruddin Shah) film. We as Hindi film industry are going leaps and bounds and I am really happy with the way and the speed with which we are changing. It is extremely important to make all kinds of films in a country like India where there are different social strata in every region. This is why both Dabbang and The Ghazi Attack will receive traction. We are in the best zone right now as far as cinema is concerned, and I feel great!
I, in fact, think that this film will become a cult; it will set a new standard for other filmmakers. The plot is based on true events. Imagine this, PNS Ghazi was coming towards INS Vikrant to destroy it and it was the only warship we had back then. It was crucial for us to save it, or the history would be quite different than what we know today. So yes, it will make a lot of Indians proud!