Actor Sudeep needs no introduction. He is one of the finest actors of Kannada cinema, who has made his presence felt in other industries also. Most recently seen in a multilingual sports drama called Pailwan (2019), Sudeep is presently looking forward to the release of his high-profile Hindi film Dabangg 3.
The actor, who continues stacking up a great resume of work, is new to the highly profitable Bollywood franchise which has superstar Salman Khan and Sonakshi Sinha fronting the cast since 2010. Recently, Eastern Eye caught up with Sudeep in Mumbai and talked to him about his experience of stepping into the world of Dabangg, how he bagged the part, the kind of roles that he loves to do and much more. Excerpts…
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How excited or nervous are you ahead of the release of Dabangg 3?
After so many years in the industry, I don’t think I should be thinking a lot. One should go with one’s heart. I thought a lot earlier as to how to craft myself or how to groom myself, but I think after the industry has offered me so much, time is again giving me an opportunity to work with certain people. It is my perspective. They may have hundred and one reasons to call few people, not call few people, but then my perspective says, you know, when time is offering you such beautiful moments, you should grab them and cherish them because I am not going to lose anything. I don’t think I am a hero, and I do this and that. I don’t think about it.
I didn’t think much when I accepted my first role. I had no options anyway. So, it was Salman Khan who is somebody I have seen from the beginning. Today, time is just throwing something to me. I never will have the intention to overtake certain people in life, never will I have a chance to draw line with equities. There is a chance to stand next to him and work and be submissive in certain things. So just do it and enjoy the work.
Who approached you for the film?
Sohail Khan is the main guy. He is very close to me from beginning. Very adamant he was. He didn’t ask me. He just told me that I was doing this part.
After seeing you in Baahubali: The Beginning (2015), we thought we would see more of you in Bahubali: The Conclusion (2017).
I don’t know why I was not in Bahubali: The Conclusion as I didn’t get a call. I didn’t think much why was I not there. Basically, Prabhas was the main hero. I think only Rajamouli can answer that question. I never got a call. Rajamouli does a lot of homework. He will not do something on a random basis.
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Weren’t you informed that you would not be there in Bahubali: The Conclusion?
Why should I sit around waiting for the information? They are the makers. They had their own reasons to cast me in the first part. They must have all the reasons not to call me for the second part. There won’t be anything personal in that.
Which is more comfortable for you: positive or negative roles?
There is nothing like a comfort zone. So, I get excited. When I get excited, I do it. If I don’t get excited, there is nothing to do in it. It’s like a meat. Something is not exciting me, I can’t push myself because it is in front of me, and if it is something nice, I would probably have a bite of it. I won’t think twice about it. For me, when I did Makkhi (2012) or Eega for Rajamouli, he narrated the script in about 20 seconds. He just told me that there is a couple. When you start liking the girl, and you kill the boy. And he returns as a fly and wants to take revenge from you. So, this is my story, this is all he said.
In that moment, what came to me, in my mind, was the film Batman. I didn’t find any difference between both the films. He is the Batman, masked always, because he has no value when he is out of the outfit. The outfit is what makes him Batman. I do something which will excite the crowd as a content. So, I guess, I just went by it.
You are a director, actor, singer and producer down south. How do you multi-task so efficiently?
You have no idea what is it like. This is a cinema part. This has got nothing to do with personal talent. I don’t think I am that talented to be doing all these things. It is a just a curiosity to know things and wanting to do things in my life. I think one or two films I have directed. I produced my own directorial, and sometimes I directed because suddenly the directors who were supposed to do the film, went back. Something happened and I came in as a second choice. That also has happened. I recently learned carpentry. I like to do carpentry. There is nothing that I don’t try. It’s about practice and what we like to do.
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Have you seen the first two instalments of the Dabangg franchise?
Frankly speaking, my offering to the film has got nothing to do with them. As a viewer, I watched the films. Dabangg (2010) was fabulous because it had a genre which not many people had touched before. Approach to the script was something which had not happened before. So, there was a lot of uniqueness in Dabangg, like the background score, imaginary, the character called Chulbul Pandey and sarcasm being his forte, the way he speaks, etc. So, there are certain good things about the film which had to be there in the second part obviously. But those two films have nothing to do with this film. For me, this is another film and a film which features Salman Khan and has something that excited me. One day I will look back and see that these were the people I worked with. I have a set of films which has given me a platform, but I guess we all need a little bit of vacation, we all need a little bit of journey in our lives where we go and come back home happily. Trust me, these kinds of journeys have always made me richer. I got to know more people. I got to learn more things.
Did you get to learn anything from Salman Khan?
I got to understand that how it is to be as simple as him after being a superstar. He is very grounded.
The title track of the film received flak from a certain section of the audience because priests are dancing in the background and that, according to some, not how the culture works. Do you think people have become more critical nowadays?
Everybody has got the right to voice their opinions. If they are on any platform, they will speak. If they are paying for your tickets, they have the right to speak. It’s about how you take it. Each one has got a perspective. They have got the right to opinion. Each one has got the right to reaction. If you ask me, I am a person who will not react because if I have done something, I accept it. I may have gone wrong maybe. The way you said it is a little bit harsh. That’s you, why should I react to your harshness? I will take what you said. If I find it sensible, I will accept it. If I don’t find it sensible, I will leave it with you. I guess being nice, being polite is there in you. Also, for what reason you are trying to be harsh with us we wouldn’t know.
So, when they have so many choices of words, they will use certain words to put across their opinions. Again, that reflects only their personality. I don’t think we should give much importance to that. It takes time to start a war. You are not heading anywhere, and if there is something or a mistake, the team would have learnt. But if there is no mistake, I think the team would have been aware of it too. I don’t think we should give importance to these things because it has got nothing to do with us. Yes, if there is something to do with the society, if it is an awareness you are talking about, then maybe yes. I am sure they have been in the industry many more years than us. They would have either learnt what they should not do or either they know what they are doing.
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You are an actor who has a strong screen presence and, in the film Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy (2019), where there were so many actors, but people went crazy with your performance. How do you feel to be a part of such a good film?
I feel lucky as I got away with something because that’s the truth. For me, the best advantage of Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy was that nobody knew how my character walked, spoke. I was in my beard and doing what I do in real life. The character offered me that freedom. So, I got away with that.