The real hero of Mahabharata is Duryodhana: Darshan

Fans of the Challenging star have already started the celebrations and are planning midnight shows ahead of the film’s release this Friday in 2D and 3D
The real hero of Mahabharata is Duryodhana: Darshan

An actor becomes a superstar only if they manage to constantly entertain their audience. No wonder then that Darshan, who has done a wide variety of roles, is one of the biggest stars of Kannada cinema. Having been part of genres ranging from social drama to commercial and historical films, the actor is now foraying into mythology with his 50th film, Kurukshetra.

Directed by Naganna and produced by Munirathna, under the banner of Vrishabha Entertainers, Kurukshetra is one of the most anticipated films of the year. After several delays, the film is set to be released worldwide on August 9 by Rockline distributions. The actor's fans have already started the celebrations with huge cut-outs and plans for midnight shows.

Talking to Cinema Express ahead of the film's release, Darshan says, "Such a project can come to fruition only if it is a producer's dream. I would have been the biggest fool if I had rejected a film like Kurukshetra. For this kind of an epic, I will always be the first person to stand up."

Excerpts from the interview:

The real hero of Mahabharata

Recalling the day he was offered the role of Duryodhana, Darshan says, "Munirathna called and said he wanted to meet me. Since he is an MLA, I thought it would be for attending an event. However, he surprised me by offering me Kurukshetra."

Darshan also reminisces about a similar discussion on Kurukshetra that had taken place while he was shooting for Anatharu (2007). "That time, Munirathna wanted me to portray Bheema's character, and Upendra to play Duryodhana. People around me who were part of the discussion were excited and asked me to take it up, but I refused. I told them that if I ever were to be part of the project, I would only play Duryodhana. I was adamant about it, and my wish got fulfilled," recalls Darshan, who believes the real hero of Mahabharata to be Duryodhana. "Likewise, even Sangoli Rayanna was initially to be played by Arjun Sarja, but ultimately it fell in my hands," he adds.

Rehearsing dialogues even in the bathroom 

Darshan insists on a full bound script when it comes to being a part of such subjects, and gives the green signal only if he is confident about essaying the role.

Shooting for Kurukshetra required a totally different lifestyle, he reveals. "My day used to start at 5 am, and I would hit the gym till 7.30. The shoot would start at 9 am and end by 6.30 pm. After that, I used to go back to the gym. Then, I used to meet the other actors and hold discussions in my room till midnight. From 1 am to 3 am, I used to rehearse the dialogues for the next day's shoot," says the actor, adding, "There is no place in my home where I have not rehearsed the dialogues, including the bathroom! Before the final shot, I practiced at least 10 times before the mirror, to know which expression would be best. This was my lifestyle for almost a year while shooting for Kurukshetra."

He goes on to say, "The dialogue delivery is completely different from regular movies, and at the dubbing studio, I had to recall the script all over again, because it happened 7-8 months after the shoot. I took about 29 days for the dubbing."

Double the weight

Carrying a lot of bulk for the character was also a tedious task for the actor. "I would weigh around 98 kg, but the moment I became Duryodhana, I would become double the weight because of the costume and gadha. It was like having a person of my own weight sitting on me. The long whale, made of velvet, which I had to carry for the introduction scene weighed 22 kg," he reveals. 

Taking tips from films like Bhakta Prahalada

To play Duryodhana's role, Darshan took references from mythological films and characters played by legendary actors. "I made serious observations of the character played by Dr Rajkumar in Bhakta Prahaladha, as I found similarities between that character and Duryodhana. I also watched films starring NT Rama Rao. Of course, we can't go by their style, and I have tried to present Duryodhana in my way. But watching such films is an inspiration," he says. 

Visual spectacle

Even though mythology is a regular subject in theatre, the same subject, when shown in cinema, needs different imagination, feels Darshan. "On stage, it is only about the character and their performance, but on the silver screen, apart from the actors, the mythological drama is also about visual beauty. With the film coming out in 3D as well, it surely be a visual spectacle," he says. 

Mythology gives scope for performance 

According to Darshan, it is always a challenge for an actor to play a character whose story has been heard or read in books. But by the same measure, such roles give a lot of scope to perform, he says. "Unlike normal cinema, playing Duryodhana or any such character will make you work on the acting, expressions, costumes, and the body language."

Cinema not a place for charity

Kurukshetra, made in Kannada, is also being dubbed and released in Telugu, followed by Tamil, Malayalam, and Hindi. Darshan is happy about the wide reach. "It should happen. Let's make money. Cinema is not a place for charity, it is a business that involves the producer's money," he says.

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