Interview: Actor Sudeep on playing a villain in Dabangg 3 and being secure in his own kingdom
A RUTHLESS VILLAIN IS crucial to a Bollywood project. It is his defeat that cements the position of a hero. And, if the hero is a larger-than-life figure like Salman Khan, who is much celebrated across the country as Bhai, choosing a villain becomes even more difficult. It is perhaps why the makers picked up Kannada actor Sudeep to do justice to this role in Dabangg 3, the third instalment of Dabangg franchise.
“I had to look bigger than him, and that was the biggest responsibility. Otherwise, it will look like he is hitting a child. He (Salman’s character) has to defeat a man who looks bigger and stronger than him, that’s when the hero will stand out. And, I think that was a challenge for me. It was difficult keeping in mind Salman sir’s aura and image but I guess we worked it out eventually and have done a good job,” says Sudeep, while honestly admitting that he is not fond of playing the role of a villain and wouldn’t have done this project had it not been Salman Khan.
When asked why and if he finds it difficult to be a villain, especially when he is celebrated for being a hero, so much so that he is called ‘Kiccha’ after the role of a politician he played in a 2003 film of the same title, he answers it blatantly. “It is difficult when you carry baggage. Like, if I carry who I am in the South then it will be very difficult. You have to be little uncorrupted.
Either don’t accept a film or be submissive to it entirely. I accepted it only because it is Salman Sir’s film. I don’t think I will accept such roles again — of being a total baddie. If you take Makkhi (Naan Ee, Eega, 2012), I was playing an antagonist but I was not a villain altogether, I was the lead, maybe in a negative role but nobody is hitting or kicking me. But, not every film is worth of you being a baddie, what should I do it for? On the same dates, I can do another film in Kannada.”
At the end of the film, there is an intense sequence which will see Sudeep and Salman fighting each other bare chested. When Sudeep was asked, he admitted not being confident of doing a shirtless scene since he wasn’t in shape.
“I have lost a lot of weight... from 89 kgs, I have come down to 74kgs. I wasn’t fat but I was shapeless. Luckily I was doing Pehalwaan (Pailwaan in Kannada), which placed me in a better place and gave me confidence to do certain things in this film. I had to a little bit of more workout but if I had not done Pehalwaan, it would have been a little difficult to do the shirtless scene with Salman,” he admits.
When asked if there was any particular fitness regimen that he followed, the actor said that he did all sort of workouts that are done in a gym like functional training, cardio, weight training and focused on areas like abs, chest and shoulders. “Diet is also very important. Eat less and eat on time. And, spend time on your health,” he adds.
For the sequence, they had a 22-day-long shooting schedule and it was reported that there was a particular kicking shot that he found challenging. When quizzed about the same, the actor said, “Kicking him wasn’t the problem, those things are a must in a fighting sequence but it was kicking him in the chest. I did it once or twice but they wanted more pressure so that was getting a bit difficult. Apart from that, everything was fine. The climax fighting scene was killing.”
Sudeep has also dubbed for his character in Dabangg 3. When asked how comfortable is he with the language, he said, “Hindi is not my language but aisa nahi hai ki baat nahi kar sakta (it is not like I can’t talk in Hindi). I have a beautiful way of dubbing and I manage that very well.”
This is not the first time that Sudeep is doing a Bollywood film. In the past, he has worked with Ram Gopal Varma in his films like Phoonk, Rann, Phoonk 2 and Rakta Charitra. When asked if this is his Bollywood stint 2.0, the actor said, “There is no ‘coming again’ happening here. I am happy doing what I am doing there (Kannada film industry). Whenever something nice comes and if it is worth it, it will happen but you really can’t plan it. By the end of the day, we are all doing films and we are all recognised for what we do in the South).”Upon being asked if there is any role that he wishes to do or any director that he wishes to work with, he concluded by saying, “I wish whatever comes my way, I do well. I don’t crave for something that is not mine. No character is beautiful on the script level, it is only the actor who makes it looks nice. If the same character goes to someone else, he may or may not do it better. And, the same is for a director. If something comes to me, I should do it well and that’s the challenge.”
WHAT BROUGHT HIM TO BOLLYWOOD
“What attracts me today is humanity. Right now, if I see someone who perhaps is not that big but is very humane and genuine, it will attract me more than stardom. We all have our unseen baggage, it will come out only if you poke it. If somebody acts like a huge star, trust me I have my baggage too. My kingdom might be small but it is a kingdom nevertheless, right? You leave all of that behind because of the genuineness that Salman sir shows... he is one of the biggest superstars of Indian cinema. And, he is so grounded and attached to everybody.”
ON WORKING WITH PRABHUDEVA
“I worked with him for the first time but he is such a nice human, he makes life very easy for everyone. He knows what he wants and doesn’t hesitate from going to anyone, including Salman sir and ask him for one more shot. He is not shooting to impress anyone. He is very quick and I am lucky that I get to work with such lovely people.”
“The response has been brilliant but the business should have been better. It is not a bad film, there is a certain number that it has done but what I feel is that it could have done better. I need to understand where it stands.