INTERVIEW| 'The tale, scale, and motion of Sita Ramam makes it a classic love story': Actor Sumanth Kumar on his feat in the upcoming film
Actor Sumanth Kumar talks about his role as brigadier Vishnu Sharma in the most-awaited romance drama of the year, Sita Ramam
Sita Ramam is one of the most anticipated period films for the South this year. The romance-drama is being touted as a eulogy to love, interspersed with many humane elements that make it an emotional watch. It features a high-octane cast of Dulquer Salmaan, Mrunal Thakur and Rashmika Mandanna with Telugu actor Sumanth Kumar in the supporting role of brigadier Vishnu Sharma.
Sumanth’s character is well-plotted amid the warfare of the breathtakingly beautiful yet war-torn Kashmir of 1965. The actor of Godavari fame will shine as a pillar of strength, courage and incandescence in his poignant role. However, his character would be worth exploring as its arc varies between different emotions that makes him all the more interesting and real. Sumanth completes over two decades of being in the film world with Sita Ramam. Having worked in some notable projects like Satyam (2003), Gowri (2004), Godavari (2006), Golkonda High School (2011), and Malli Raava (2017), the upcoming movie holds a lot of importance for the actor to reach out to a massive audience in Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and Malayalam languages. We sat with the actor in for a candid chat to know more about his character, how he bagged the role and working with director Hanu Raghavapudi and actor Dulquer Salmaan.
Tell us about your role as brigadier Vishnu Sharma. How did it come to you?
I am grateful that the role of Brigadier Vishnu Sharma came my way. He is a mature character. It is a significant, complex, supporting, and strong role rather than a negative one. He’s a character that a lot of people can relate to. Film producer Swapna Dutt and director Hanu Raghavapudi told me that I was the first person that came to their mind for playing a pivotal character alongside Dulquer and Mrunal, in a powerful supporting role. Later, I got in touch with Hanu, and we talked extensively about my role before I decided to play it on screen.
How did it feel to wear the Indian Armed Forces uniform?
It was an absolute honour for me to wear an Indian Armed Forces uniform in Kashmir and I learnt a lot about the Indian Army in the process of shooting. Though I’ve played characters wearing uniforms before, like in my second film Yuvakudu about 20 years ago — when I wore a bomb squad uniform — but this time wearing an Indian Armed Forces uniform was truly special.
How was it working with Dulquer?
I have only seen a few of Dulquer’s movies, but thanks to my niece, who is a big fan, I was able to watch some of his Malayalam films and his Hindi film Karvaan. I really admire him as an actor, and he is friends with my extended family — Akhil Akkineni, Naga Chaitanya, Rana Daggubati, and all of them. However, I had never met him before, so it was incredibly refreshing to work with him. He is unquestionably one of my favourite costars and a top actor, we grew close throughout the filming of Sita Ramam. We have a mutual love and respect for one another and have distinct yet similar interests. He is classy! I like him as a person and couldn’t have asked for a better supportive role with a lead like him.
How was your rapport with director Hanu?
Hanu is a live wire on set! We refer to him as a crazy scientist! I'm the exact opposite of him—an introvert who is quieter and more inward. This is the first time I’ve worked with him. I enjoy interacting with Hanu because he is very demanding and extracts exactly what he wants from shooting to the dubbing process. He won’t settle for anything less than what he envisions. I have worked with numerous directors but he stands out from the rest. I appreciate him giving me this opportunity.
Any memorable anecdotes from the sets of the film?
Although I don’t travel frequently, but the film’s shooting enabled me to discover many regions of India, something I never would have done otherwise. I filmed in the freezing Spiti Valley in Himachal and must say it was quite difficult and physically demanding because of the extreme weather conditions. We were there in pre-winters and it was so cold that the water was frozen all the time and we had no running water to even bathe! At times, even our moustaches would get frozen but the location’s captivating beauty kept us all going with vigour.
From Godavari to Sita Ramam, how rewarding has your journey been?
It has been very fulfilling. It was 16 years ago that I made Godavari — a delightful love story that many still regard as a classic. Coincidentally, the female lead in Godavari is named Seetha Mahalakshmi, similar to Sita Ramam’s female lead name. However, Sita Ramam is an epic film, a very different love story set against the backdrop of the army, with many relatable sentiments. The tale, scale, and motion of Sita Ramam have all the makings of a wonderful classic love story. When I first heard it, it seemed like an English film, a classical Hollywood love saga like The English Patient falling in the epic romantic-war drama genre. Its release is surely going to be an emotional event.
Sita Ramam is slated to hit the big screen on August 5.