‘Our stars need to do more films’
Actor Ambareesh talks about his upcoming film, Ambi Ning Vayassaytho, his son Abhishek’s foray into filmdom, and his political retirement
Rebel Star Ambareesh may have turned 66 today, but the vivaciousness is very much alive in his eyes as he talks to Cinema Express about his upcoming film, Ambi Ning Vayassaytho (You are aging), his son Abhishek’s foray into filmdom, and his political retirement
Tell us about why you took up Ambi Ning Vayassaytho.
It was Rajinikanth who suggested that I do this role, which was originally played by Rajkiran in Pa Paandi. His son-in-law Dhanush had directed the film and I picked it up because the character suited me. I have been doing films now and then, but this film, directed by Gurudatha Ganiga, has a lengthy role for me. The process of shooting was easy because everything went my way. I laid out certain conditions before I agreed to the project. And so, I didn’t have to strain myself during the shoot and worked only five hours a day. I am almost done with the shoot now, and just have a fight sequence left.
How have you been able to adjust to the changes in filmmaking over the years?
My working style has always been the same; it has never changed. They have to change; not me. I am a happy-go-lucky person on the sets. There used to be a time when we had our own set of artistes, producers, and directors, who visited us. It is quite different today. But I have always enjoyed the shooting process.
'I am told, every star is doing just one or two films every couple of years'
Heroes of my time worked in at least 12 films a year. I remember doing 14 films in a year once. Today, there are more theatres, but the revenue is low. From what I am told, every star is doing just one or two films every couple of years. Recently, I visited a multiplex, and the owner told me that they are filling the slots with other language films because they don’t get good Kannada films. I have told the stars and filmmakers that it is necessary to do more films.
You have been active in politics. How were you able to balance it with your film career?
I didn’t, and will never agree to every role coming my way. I think of myself as a producer’s actor. With the passing years, I couldn’t do justice to that because of the diversity of my two careers – acting and politics. Both needed my quality time. I would have to be at a certain shooting spot, but politics would have me travelling to another place. I have worked with some wonderful and big stars of Kannada cinema and will continue if I feel my presence is important.
Do you plan to continue your politcal career?
I am done with politics. It is not a one-day affair, but five solid years of effort. I have seen it all, but now, my age won’t permit it. I have a good family with a caring wife (Sumalatha), and a good son. I just want to spend quality time in the company of my friends.
'Getting into films was just good fortune'
I never wanted to get into films, but destiny has brought me here. A good family friend thought I resembled Shatrughan Sinha. That was when director Puttanna Kanagal was looking for new talents and I was asked by my friend to meet him. I even told them that acting would not suit my temper, but they would not let me go. Puttanna then met me, and asked me to enact a scene. I had a unique style of handling a cigarette, which he liked and included in the film. There has been no looking back since.
Tell us about your son’s acting debut.
Abhishek’s launch film, Amar, is made under Sandesh productions and directed by Nagashekar. I can’t guarantee that my legacy will be taken forward, but he has to put in his best. All these years, we never told him to get into films. As parents, we gave him the best education. But then he began showing an interest in acting. I guess he must have been influenced by the youngsters in the Kannada film industry.
When he expressed his interest, I told him that he would get a red carpet welcome, but that he needs to earn his name. We all came as raw actors; we didn’t know acting, fighting or dancing. We learned it all on the fly. But today, you have to learn it all before entering cinema. Making a film may be much easier today because of technology, but the hard work needed remains the same.
What are some important lessons you have instilled in him?
The first lesson is that an actor needs to respect the director. Outside the sets, they may be your friends, but when it comes to work, they are the captain. I told my son to always be respectful and hold on to his dignity.