Sudeep: I have always adored Salman Khan for the human being he is
A variety of films have taken Sudeep to different regions, and now, after 10 years, he is back in Bollywood with Dabangg 3
Way back in 2008, Sudeep slowly but steadily made his foray into Bollywood with films like Phoonk, Rann and Rakhta Charitra. While this led to speculations that he was shifting base to the film capital, he had only one reply: "When the director calls me, I just go, deliver, and return."
This is something the actor sticks to even today. A variety of films have taken Sudeep to different regions, and now, after 10 years, he is back in Bollywood with the Prabhudheva-directorial Dabangg 3, starring Salman Khan.
Excerpts from a conversation with the actor:
Bollywood is not a new industry to you. But it's 10 years since you did a Hindi film.
Nothing is new to me anymore, yet everything is. It's a fact as well as my perspective. My last one was Raktha Charitra. Post that it was my personal choice to concentrate on Kannada films which I still continue to do. But then came Eega (directed by SS Rajamouli), which took me in a different direction. I have never been a planner and have always gone with the flow.
Whether Kannada, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi, you've gone places with your projects. But is Bollywood in a different league?
South Indian films today have caught the attention of people across the country. Language is no longer a barrier for any film lover. Yet, Hindi films are effective when it comes to the business and reach. A film like Baahubali surely got its due outside the Telugu fraternity because of the pan-India release. Today, many films are being planned in this manner to reach out far and wide. If you are speaking about money spent or creative freedom, for me, it's the same across all industries.
According to reports, Prabhudheva had you in mind for this particular role in Dabangg 3 right from the beginning. Is that right?
I only know it's mine now; that's all that matters to me. This is the beginning of my journey with this team and a brand called Dabangg.
Have you watched the previous films in the Dabangg series?
It's rare that a film becomes a brand and has its own fan following. I have been one of those who has followed Dabangg. Being a part of this brand is exciting as well as a responsibility. I need to live up to what's expected out of me, and that worries me.
You're a superstar in your own league. How do you feel sharing screen space with another superstar like Salman Khan?
I have always adored Salman for the human being he is. Working with him is a new experience. I have no idea what to expect. I suddenly feel like a newcomer and the first few hours on set is surely going to be a tester.
You play an antagonist, Sikander Bharadwaj, in Dabangg 3. For an actor of your stature, what is the difference between being a hero and villain on screen?
A hero is all about being good, and only good. I surely enjoy it. But a villain is about making the hero look good, which I enjoy even more.
Did you agree to play this role for your friend Sohail Khan or for the director Prabhudheva? Or did you take it up because you will be associating with Salman Khan?
Dabangg 3 is a full meal that was served on a platter to me. My brother Sohail is responsible for this working out, and having a face-to-face role with Chulbul Pandey is the icing on the cake. I say Chulbul Pandey, rather than Salman Khan sir, because it makes me feel less tense.
What are your favourite Salman Khan films?
I loved him in Bajrangi Bhaijaan and Sultan. His role in Andaz Apna Apna and Dabangg were great too. More than all this, I adore him as a person. He's warm and there are only two sides to his personality, he either likes you or he doesn't.
What is the status on your upcoming Telugu film, Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy?
I'm done with my part of the film. It was a great experience to have worked with Chiranjeevi sir under the guidance of Surender Reddy.