‘Middle-class person is like a red ant, generous & volatile’
Senior actor Dattatreya talks about his next film Kempiruve, on the fight of a retired person against unscrupulous business people
HG Dattatreya, fondly called Dattanna in film circles, has his energy and passion intact for cinema even at 75. This has been an interesting year for the senior actor, going by the characters he has played in various films, including a few lead roles.
CE had a conversation with Dattanna about his next film Kempiruve, directed by Venkat Bharadwaj, which will be released this week. He spoke about the film, cinema today and how he has tried to carve a path different from his earlier works.
After being in this profession for 30 long years, he says that he does not believe in appointing a manager to handle his dates. “My diary handles my dates and that is my ‘manager’. I believe that keeping a manager is a sort of status symbol, and is not so much from need. Of course, there are few who are busy and are compelled to hire one. But I am not so and I can manage my own work.”
Dattanna has learnt to be cautious with the subjects he chooses to work on. “Usually people who come to work with me know what I can or cannot do,” he says. “Then there are newcomers who approach me without any preconceived notions about what I would be comfortable doing. I turn down many, but not because I am dismissive about their work.” He says he has done atleast 13 films in which characters were of his choice, and they had a different aesthetic. “So if I do a role that does not fit into my body of work then other films I am part of will suffer. So I pick films that I prefer and what my family, friends and audience would like to see me in.”
Kempiruve is a crime thriller, and the title draws from the character he plays. “A middle-class fellow who resembles a red ant in his behaviour. They are not selfish. If there is a bounty of sugar, it does not go alone, but takes with it a line of ants and they march in a single file, disciplined. If somebody stamps on them, they could react violently. This is exactly what the character lives through too,” says Dattanna, who adds that you need to get into a different frame of mind to play such characters.
“This retired person faces a crisis after he loses his pension, and is disturbed when his family neglects him. Money becomes equal to respect at home, and he ends up being dissatisfied. Though he is respected for his wisdom outside of his home, he bumps into criminal-minded businessmen who try to take advantage of his goodness. This self-made middle-class person reacts to this in a good and bad way. How he deals with the situation forms the crux of Kempiruve.”
The actor likes to keep his life simple. “I like reading good books, but I cannot do serious reading . When I am not acting, I usually keep myself engaged with small activities and a bit of reading,” he says.