Yash: The persona of Rocky Bhai has come from within me 

With the much-awaited KGF: Chapter 2 releasing worldwide today, actor, and national sensation, Yash gets candid about expectations, working with Prashanth Neel, growth of Kannada cinema, and more  

author_img A Sharadhaa Published :  14th April 2022 04:13 PM   |   Published :   |  14th April 2022 04:13 PM

Yash in KGF Chapter 2

Hailing from humble beginnings, Yash dreamt one day of seeing a cutout of himself in Gandhinagar, considered to be the capital of Kannada cinema. Today, with the release of KGF: Chapter 2 taking the world by storm, the actor stands tall on billboards across almost 75 countries! Yash, known for his uncompromising approach to his brand of cinema, has cemented his pan-Indian superstardom with the Prashanth Neel directorial. This status and stardom did not come easy, and now, it is time for him to sit back and enjoy the fruits of the sacrifices he says he has made in the last six years when he trained all his focus and energy on a single project:

Excerpts from a conversation:

You are now thought of as a pan-Indian star. Does the responsibility and pressure that comes with it overwhelm you?

Stardom is stardom, regardless of whether it is about a pan-Indian film or not. What's important is to ensure that those who come to theatres enjoy my film. So, yes, the more people who join in this revelry, the merrier. It all started with a small dream, and with support from audiences all over, we have now reached where we are.

You have always spoken about wanting to put Kannada cinema on the global map. KGF: Chapter 1 which was released four years ago can be said to be the film that opened the floodgates.

I'm so happy. I have always been vocal about this wish. Some might have even felt that I was talking too much, but I felt that this is something we should believe in. It's not just my efforts, of course. So many people, including director Prashanth Neel, producer Vijay Kiragandur, and other technicians, are responsible for this success. This was everybody's dream, and all of us have realised it.
Kannada audiences have previously registered their dissatisfaction about homegrown stars ignoring their home audience after achieving national popularity...

People have the right to feel that way, but it is important for them to understand the need for artists to branch out and do something big. Love for your language or culture need not just be reflected in one department. Trying something new will embolden your region’s youngsters to dream. This is my dream and my career, but at the same time, it is also about where I come from and the industry I have been a part of. My responsibility will always be to entertain the audience and my fans. At the end of the day, cinema is about business too. It is my utmost responsibility to get so many things right.

Barring films like Baahubali, KGF, RRR, and perhaps a film like Pushpa, the whole pan-Indian label sometimes feels like a gimmick. Do you agree?

In the case of KGF, I genuinely felt that this story could be told to audiences around Karnataka, and by doing that, we believed we would get more resources and more fans. Should a film appeal to those in other regions, it must be armed with a strong story with many elements. Just having it get released all over the country doesn't make it a pan-India film. The people must embrace the film.

 Director Prashanth Neel and you have grown from strength to strength over the past eight years, since your association began...

Prashanth and I have travelled together for eight years, and a lot has changed in our lives. He is a secure person, whose confidence enables him to not worry about the opinions of others... We know how much we have worked on this film. Of course, there is Viji Sir (Producer Vijay Kiragandur) too, and with him, I share a different bond. We all have immense mutual respect, and there has been a lot of learning from each other.

Now that you have become famous for a film like KGF, do you think you can ever do a ‘smaller’ film?

I like watching cinema with the whole family and this has always been my priority. And no, I don’t think I can do something ‘simple’. I like larger-than-life content, and I like for it to be something strong.

Much has been made about your film, KGF: Chapter 2, releasing alongside the Vijay-starrer, Beast.

Clash of such big films is quite common. Even with KGF: Chapter 1, I think there was another big film that came out.  If somebody wants to have their film come out on a certain date, the choice is theirs. They have their calculations and reasons. Tell me one product in this country that is not part of a competitive market. Competition brings quality, and it is good. Whoever has done a good job should always win. When I choose a release date, it is only keeping in mind the film that we have made. Everybody else does the same. We should not discuss too much about these clashes.

Is it going to be hard to make audiences look past Rocky Bhai, when you do other characters in the future?

That could be the case. I don't know. As challenges go, this is a great one to take with me to my next film. With success comes the worry about what we are going to do next... It’s natural, and it’s okay. It is a better problem to have than concerns over whether there will be an audience for your film.

How similar is Rocky Bhai to who you are?

The persona of Rocky Bhai has come from within me. When I do another film, sure, the whole world of KGF, the gangsters, the empires… all of this changes. However, Rocky Bhai is not too different from who I am and how I think and function. This doesn’t, of course, mean that I will do things that Rocky does. I think I will be able to answer this question better when I get into character for my next film. I don’t mind giving up my beard and long hair too if my next role demands that.