Sudeep: I believe not in taking up exciting roles, but in making my roles exciting
The actor, who is returning to Bollywood with Dabangg 3, talks about working in the Salman Khan-starrer, his future roles, the film's Kannada version, and more
Salman Khan is set to return as Chulbul Pandey in the latest instalment of the Dabangg franchise, Dabangg 3, that’s set for release this Friday. The film, directed by Prabhudheva, stars Sudeep as the antagonist, Bali Singh. "The presence of Bali Singh is important in this film. He is a character clear in his thoughts and knows what he wants. Chulbul Pandey knows what he is up against," says Sudeep.
"After playing a character like Bali Singh, and seeing how well the makers have translated the character into the big screen, I feel even better about doing this film," says Sudeep, whose first outing as a villain came in SS Rajamouli's Eega. Dabangg 3, which marks Sudeep's first villain role since the 2015 Tamil film, Puli, starring Vijay, also heralds the return of the actor to Bollywood after a decade. Why did he choose Dabangg 3 to be his Bollywood comeback? "After 24 years in cinema, and at this stage of my career, I don't think I think too much about these things. There’s plenty on the plate, and no dearth for work,” he says. “When an opportunity to associate with an actor like Salman Khan arises, it makes sense to just go and work without thinking too much about it. Working with an achiever like Salman Khan is an opportunity that nobody would want to miss out on. The kind of respect, love, and care, I received from Salman Khan and the rest of the cast and crew meant I never had to question my decision. There were instances when Salman himself wrote extra dialogues for me to enhance the role of Bali Singh. Dabangg 3 has a lot of beautiful moments, and I hope the film does well.”
Does Sudeep have an idea about the kind of roles he wants to pursue in the future across languages? "I think about the role only after I get approached for it. If I have notions on what I want to do, I will only be playing the waiting game. As an actor, it is up to me to make my role exciting. There's no work involved when I get a tailor-made role,” he says. “Anybody can do an exciting role. On the other hand, I believe in making the role exciting. We have some lovely directors, who have clarity and use the right platform to deliver their thoughts.”
The face-off between Chulbul Pandey and Bali Singh, in what's billed as an ‘unforgettable climax’, is said to be one of the biggest highlights of Dabangg 3. The combat was shot over 23 days and involved 500 men and the blowing up of at least 100 cars. "Despite the number of cars and people in the stunt sequence, the fight between Chulbul Pandey and Bali Singh actually begins the very minute we meet. This is unlike a regular climax, where the hero and villain fight each other only towards the end of the sequence. This action-packed climax will have Chulbul Pandey and Bali in hand-to-hand combat too. A few sequences of the climax were shot in a huge set erected like a minefield, and Salman sir worked really hard for this," he mentions. Sudeep also reveals that there is a romantic angle to Bali Singh's character, but wouldn’t be persuaded to let more details slip.
On Dabangg getting a Kannada version
Dabangg 3, which is set to hit the screens this Friday, will release in five languages — Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and Kannada. "It is important that the language of Kannada goes places. I saw a certain kind of excitement in the Dabangg 3 team, who were happy to release the Kannada version of the film," he says.
The person behind the star
Sudeep, who has watched the previous installments in the Dabangg franchise, feels the series will live as long as Chulbul Pandey is there. “The villains will just come and go," says Sudeep, who likes to see Salman do comedy and action. "He has a great sense of humour. Of course, he also looks good in romance. Above all, I like him as a person. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would give Salman, the star, an 8 or 9. But as a human, he goes beyond 10."