Kannada actor Sudeep certainly is on a roll after his multi-lingual release Pailwaan hit the screens last week. “I am thankful to my fans for making the film a huge hit. The response has been quite overwhelming. Any film is a collaborative effort and it feels great when the audience recognises the hard work we put in. Nothing comes easy,” he smiles.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
What was on your mind when Krishna came to you with the Pailwaan script?
I thought Krishna had gone nuts. (Laughs) Because I wasn’t much into working out and stuff. I took a lot of time before agreeing to sign the film. I like challenges. They never tire me. Despite the negative publicity, Pailwaan is running to packed theaters in Karnataka. People tag me on Twitter and share their experiences. What more do I need? Beyond the content, I liked Krishna’s intent to make me do something I hadn’t so far. I knew he had an excellent story to tell. Wait. Would you believe if I say I did Hebbuli without listening to Krishna’s script? When a dear friend wants to work with me, I don’t need reasons. I knew his intentions were genuine.
Every time, your film releases, it generates immense interest among your fans.
That’s all I have got—my fans. They are my only earning. I make sure I do only audience-friendly films that can be watched with children and the elderly crowd. Two decades have gone by, the bond I share with my fans remains intact. People connect with my films because they are honest and simple. I am happy when my fans are happy.
I am sure Pailwaan wasn’t an easy film to pull off, considering how you were put through a rigorous sports training.
I don’t want easy success. It’s boring. Maybe, that’s how I am tuned. I don’t know. I had to be more disciplined in terms of how I was as a person—starting from the diet, sleeping schedule, staying away from alcohol and so on. I had to keep an eye out on everything I did. There were mood swings and it was difficult. Every day, I woke up with a strong mind. I became stronger without even realising knowing how it happened.
But sports dramas are predictable. You know how the conflicts start and end.
I don’t think that’s a big deal. The treatment matters and not the end result. In Eega, we narrated the whole story in the trailer. Still, people thronged the theaters to see what we have done in the film. (Smiles)
Tell us about working with Suniel Shetty.
He’s sensible, emotional, practical and a real human being. I call him ‘anna’ and we share a great rapport with each other. I am happy we ended up collaborating on a sincere film like Pailwaan.
Meanwhile, there were reports saying you almost signed a Hollywood film.
Yes, it should have got materialised, but did not. Eddie Arya, an Australian filmmaker, wanted to direct me. We had photo sessions and he gave interviews to the press, as well. Since Pailwaan was taking too much time, I had to step back. The dates were clashing. Also, the lead heroine had some health issues.
How tough was it to turn down a Hollywood project?
I believe everything happens for a reason and I have zero regrets. With Bigg Boss-related commitments, it’s hard to give bulk dates for a film to be shot abroad. I think saying ‘yes’ to a film is more difficult than a ‘no’. What’s mine will always be mine, right?
In one of your earlier interviews, you had mentioned you don’t listen to detailed storylines. Is it still the same?
If I don’t find a synopsis interesting, there’s no point in listening to a story narration for two-and-a-half hours.
You haven’t done many full-fledged Tamil films. Why?
Nothing exciting came my way. Probably after Naan Ee, everyone wanted to work with me and didn’t know what to do with me. (Laughs)
You wear multiple hats. You act, direct, play cricket, sing, and also host Bigg Boss. Tell us about the reality show.
No matter where I shoot, I come down to the sets every week and interact with contestants. That has taught me patience, which I never thought I had. The show has been successful and people like it. There are little things that I have learnt like values. I am myself on the show and that’s the best thing about Bigg Boss. I always carry a character when I appear on the screen. Interviews and films, after all, are interpretations of who I am. But this assignment is close to my heart. I am aware it’s a huge responsibility and I enjoy it.
Have you caught episodes of your peers hosting the show in other languages?
I am not insecure and I don’t want to get influenced by anybody. (Smiles) What I do is most important as I do it with utmost honesty.
I like how you are open to playing the antagonist too.
That’s the only place I can be bad and it is good to be bad sometimes. (Laughs) I started my career from scratch and I have nothing to lose.
Looking back at your journey, how do you feel?
I have seen the ups and downs in life and learned that both success and failure come with a lesson. I am not being philosophical, but I want to entertain the audience and keep living my life. I do films that I feel like doing. It’s not about the number of films at all. I just strive to be a better person every day.
How do you view criticism?
We all have flaws, don’t we? I don’t read newspapers. I stay away from negativity. I do films and I come home. I work out, eat and sleep. What matters to me is the smile I see on everybody’s face after they step out of the theaters. And, when I want to know how my film is doing, I call my distributors. The pressure of success is truly suffocating, but nobody knows how to measure it.
You are also working with Salman Khan in Dabangg 3. Once I remember you mentioning Kannada actors were being sidelined in Bollywood.
I think my statement was misinterpreted. I would have said we weren’t welcomed. But there’s no such divide these days. Everyone wants to do everything. Bollywood actors come to regional cinema, we go to Bollywood in return. There is a seismic change when mixed audiences seek out quality films. The purpose behind making a film gets fulfilled only if it reaches as many people as possible.
Pick three films that defined your career.
Huchcha, Autograph and Pailwaan. Huchcha happened when I was in desperate need of a hit. Autograph is equally important because I directed the film and people loved it. I am glad I did Pailwaan. Undoubtedly, it has added a new dimension to my personality.
Also read: Sudeep is a director’s actor: Krishna
When are you directing next? If yes, what?
I am not a planner but there are many talented writers and directors around. So, let me quietly pursue my love for acting. (Grins)