'Rajamouli is a relentless perfectionist', says RRR villain Edward Sonnenblick

Edward Sonnenblick will be seen playing an antagonist in S S Rajamouli’s most awaited movie RRR; the American actor talks about his love for Indian cinema and food
Edward Sonnenblick on working with SS Rajamouli in RRR
Edward Sonnenblick on working with SS Rajamouli in RRR

In 2001, when California-based chef, Edward Sonnenblick watched Aamir Khan starrer Lagaan, little did the 19-year-old know that he would pack his bags and move to India to become an actor in the next four years. And soon would be a part of SS Rajamouli’s most awaited period action drama RRR which boasts a steller cast of Ram Charan, NT Rama Rao Jr and Ajay Devgn. Edward will be seen playing an antagonist in the film and he tells us that his experience  of working with the cast was surreal and full of learning. Hailing from California, it wasn’t easy for Edward to be a part of Hindi cinema. He prepared himself by watching about 200 Bollywood movies and learnt Hindi for three years. When he first came to India in 2005, he spent time exploring the diverse culture of this ancient country and fell in love with it and even became a vegetarian who enjoys Gujarati and Rajasthani food. In 2007, Edward was back in India and started his life as any other newcomer in the city of dreams, Mumbai. His first break happened with Karan Johar’s Dostana (2008) starring Priyanka Chopra Jonas, John Abraham and Abhishek Bachchan. Soon his film career  got a boost with movies like Badmaash Company, Anjaana Anjaani, Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi and Veere Di Wedding. Apart from RRR, he is currently taking on the main role in Vikramaditya Motwane’s web series Stardust and Tamil film director Pa Vijay’s Medhavi starring Arjun Sarja. Ahead of the release of RRR, we caught up with him over a Zoom call to talk more about the film, his journey as an American in Bollywood and more.

How did your role in RRR happen and do tell us about your experience of working with SS Rajamouli?

I have worked with Rajamouli sir’s father K V Vijayendra Prasad. He is an amazing screenwriter. He called me and asked me to read the script. Just like any other actor, I gave an audition and got through. I can’t reveal much about my role as of now, but I can say that you are in for a good visual treat and I will be the villain in the drama. Working with Rajamouli sir opened me up to a whole new side of my craft. He is so incredibly detail-oriented that it required my full surrender to his vision and direction, right down to every twitch and tilt of the head. He’s indeed a relentless perfectionist, but at the same time, he’s so incredibly patient and down-to-earth. That’s the magical combination that inspired me to hone my craft more than ever. It was like a safe place for me because you know he will take care of everything and he is going to get what he wants. Every day is exciting being on Rajamouli sir’s set.

What was it like working with this cast?

It was a different experience. It’s always fun to work with South Indian directors because their vision is so big. The actors know their work so well and you are constantly trying to do your best when you have a cast like this with you.

Did you have to do any research for your roles since they are mostly from an Indian perspective?

I do whatever research I can. I read a lot about the things that are there in the script. I try and look for the history of the character and the culture of that period. As far as presentation is concerned, I would say every cinema is black and white. There is no grey. There is another form of cinema that’s more realistic and nuanced in the portrayal of stories and characters. I would say I am having a good time being purely evil.

Do tell us about your first break as an actor and challenges.

My big break happened when I met my wife Sonal Mehta. It was her project and she selected me. My big project was Jhansi Ki Raani. It was a good way to learn many things. I still get so much love from the audience, not just from India but globally. When I go to the US, I feel like a foreigner. I am a foreigner here too, that will always be there but still, I feel more comfortable here. Sometimes I get tired of speaking Hindi because I have to think a lot while speaking and have to put in the extra effort.

Fave four

Favourite place in India

Varanasi, Kolkata, Kerala and Mumbai

Favourite food

Undhiyu (a Gujarati mixed vegetable dish)

A book you’re reading

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

Web series you are hooked to

American sitcoms.


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