Arjun Das: You will not see me do negative roles for a while
Arjun Das talks about his life and career ahead of the release of Butta Bomma, his debut in Telugu cinema
Though Arjun Das is technically a newcomer in the Telugu film industry, he is not a new face to the audiences here. A popular fixture of Lokesh Kanagaraj’s superhit films — Kaithi (2019), Master (2021) and Vikram (2022) — Arjun Das has won many hearts outside of Tamil Nadu for his husky baritone and intense, dark roles. “I dubbed for my role in the Telugu version of Andhaagharam(2020) and since then, there has been no looking back. I have received immense love from Telugu people even before I started working here,” says the actor, who will be making his direct entry in Telugu cinema with Butta Bomma, the official remake of Malayalam superhit, Kappela (2020).
Kappela largely worked due to a series of suspense-filled events which proves the ‘Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems’ adage right. Maintaining the suspense of the remake intact, Arjun says, “I play a character named RK, he is the antagonist of the film. That is all I can reveal for now. It is a story a lot of people can relate to.”
Speaking about how he got his role in Butta Bomma, Arjun says, “I have gotten offers in Telugu before but I could not take them up owing to my work commitments in Tamil. Vamsi garu, from Sithara Entertainments, was very adamant that I play this role. Ramesh ji (Shourie Chandrashekhar Ramesh, the director of Butta Bomma) came down to Chennai the next day to narrate the adapted story. It was Vamsi garu’s confidence and Ramesh ji’s narration that sealed the deal with me.” Sharing his experiences of shooting the film, Arjun continues, “Butta Bomma takes place in Vizag and Narsipatnam. We shot at a lot of live locations, where I saw people, young and old, come and meet us. I did not expect to be recognised here by so many people and it was nice to hear people call me ‘Amar bhai’. I sometimes did not understand what people were saying so I made the ADs translate it.”
Arjun has no qualms about admitting that it was Lokesh Kanagaraj who put him on the map, and the actor shares a warm camaraderie with the ace filmmaker. “I am here because of Lokesh sir. I would do any role he would ask me to do. Even if he asked to do nothing but stand at the corner of a frame, I would do that. But Lokesh sir tells me ‘No you are growing, you should not do small roles anymore’. I don’t ever ask him any questions,” says Arjun, whose career in cinema was largely bolstered by his unique, deep baritone, which has its own legion of fans. “I am made to sign in every single contract that I alone shall dub for my voice in the film, irrespective of the language. Though I am known more for my voice than my acting, I am hoping to work hard and get the same amount of recognition for my performances as well”.
Another interesting facet of Arjun is how he is one of the very few actors of this generation to work on only one project at a time. “I don’t like shuffling between movies because I don’t want a producer or director to wait for me while I go work on another project. This way, the continuity of the film is also not disturbed.” It is clear that keeping the filmmakers content is one of the highest priorities for Arjun, who agrees without missing a beat. “I am a clean slate in every film. I spend time with my director figuring out what they want, and I try to deliver exactly that. I do my best to live up to the faith and the money my producers invest in me.”
2023 is potentially a watershed year for Arjun Das, who has seven movies, including his debut in Hindi and Malayalam, lined up for release. “After Kaithi, I got offered negative roles. Weirdly, after Master, I got a lot of romantic roles. Who'd have thought Master would result in an influx of such roles? So, I don’t know what roles I could possibly be offered next, but one thing is for sure... you will not see me doing negative roles for a while now," signs off Arjun Das with the hope that Butta Bomma is just the start of his stint in Telugu cinema.