Rishi: I appreciate the faith that Puneeth Rajkumar had in me even before the release of my first film

The actor talks about his second film, Kavaludaari, directed by Hemanth M Rao and produced by Puneeth Rajkumar under the banner of PRK Production
Rishi Kavaludaari
Rishi Kavaludaari

Almost one-and-a-half years after his debut, Operation Alamelamma, Rishi is prepping for his second release. However, the long gap hasn’t perturbed the actor. Not having been acquainted with the Kannada film industry prior to his debut, Rishi had his work cut out to get people to pay attention to his work. “It takes time,” he says in a conversation with Cinema Express, during which he also speaks about how he connects with Kavaludaari, his association with director Hemanth M Rao, and his journey. 

'I immediately knew I wanted to be part of Kavaludaari'

The young actor believes that his films should to do the talking, and feels that Kavaludaari will help him make a name for himself. “I am not someone who is active on social media. I don't feel that my work needs to reflect my beliefs. The team of Kavaludaari worked really hard to bring out a good product. I saw the passion and effort that’s gone in. Even if they had taken longer, I would have been okay with it,” says Rishi, who was offered Kavaludaari during the release of Operation Alamalemma.

“Hemanth had watched the rushes of my first film, and wanted to cast me in his directorial. He then gave me a brief and also told me what he was trying to say through Kavaludaari. The moment he told me the idea, I knew I wanted to be part of the film. The concept that he had was hard hitting and that grabbed my attention,” he adds.

'Puneeth Rajkumar’s faith meant much to me'

Along with the director, Rishi was also the choice of Puneeth Rajkumar, who is producing the film under the banner of PRK Productions. “I appreciate the faith that Puneeth had in me even before my first film could release. This really meant a lot to me. It was a sort of acceptance from the biggest family of Kannada industry,” says Rishi. 

The one-film-old actor believes that today, the involvement of producers and distributors is vital for the success of a film. “Every single person’s effort counts. Since Puneeth was so involved, we feel that the end product is very strong.”

'Hemanth’s job didn’t end with direction'

Rishi feels that director Hemanth comes across as an actor’s director. “I remember him telling me that the film wasn’t going to be a run-of-the-mill commercial film, and asked me if I would still want to be part of the film. He understands actors and is empathetic. Hemanth’s job didn’t end with direction, he was involved in all aspects of the making.”

Respecting the profession

The first time Hemanth explained to Rishi about the character, the actor admits he was curious to know more. “He wanted to portray an inspector’s role with a difference. Usually cops are depicted as macho. However, when we go to police stations, we see an emotional side to them too. They don’t behave like larger-than-life heroes. When you personally meet them, you don’t feel intimidated. My character, Shyam, is very real. The traffic cop stands up for what is right. There is an emotional drama attached to it. Since we shot the scenes at real locations, I also observed there was no access to amenities like a rest room. Having played the role, I now respect them much more.”

‘Anant Nag keeps himself relevant’

Rishi shares screen space with Anant Nag in the film, and according to him, the biggest competitor to anyone is someone who keeps himself updated. And this is exactly how the legendary actor struck him. “For someone who started his career 40 years ago, he is still up to date with everything around him. The challenge these days is to remain relevant, and  Anant sir does that with ease. Be it films or politics, he knows the latest. He  doesn’t live in a bubble. He’s the same in his personal and professional life. And what is commendable is that he doesn’t rely on any assistant, and even drives himself to the sets.”

Reel and real life similarities

Kavaludaari means ‘cross roads’ and incidentally,  Rishi was facing one in his personal life. “I always wanted to be an actor, but pursued engineering. Since nobody from my family had any idea about films, it was quite scary. It’s hard to survive in the industry without a good support system. I studied engineering to ensure I had a fall back option. Likewise, Shyam, my character in Kavaludaari, is facing his own conflicts. He wants to become an investigative officer, but is posted in the traffic department. And he keeps questioning himself, wondering whether he will be able to execute the duties of a traffic cop. Just like I kept wondering if I was doing justice to my choice of being an actor,” says Rishi.

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