Varun Sandesh: Michael opened new doors for me as an actor

The Happy Days actor talks about the turning point in his 17 year career, what makes his upcoming film Nindha a unique suspense thriller, and more
Varun Sandesh: Michael opened new doors for me as an actor

Varun Sandesh, whose film Nindha hits theatres on June 21, began his career on a staggering note at the age of 17 with 2007's Happy Days, which became a huge hit and acquired instant cult status. However, after a few initial hits, Varun self-admittedly struggled to maintain the momentum. Reflecting back on this phase of his career, Varun candidly admits, “I was a kid. I went to parties and enjoyed my life like any other teenager. Maybe I was in denial earlier, but after 17 years of this journey, I am ready to accept reality.” Varun says that he still often feels unsure about what decisions to make, while adding that he is in a better state of mind regardless. “I am still trying to be sorted in terms of my film choices,” he states.

Varun Sandesh recalls the distinct period in his life where he began recalibrating his career and life. He elaborates, “I was doing this film titled Mister 420. That’s when I first remember thinking, “What am I doing? Why am I doing all these films?” Then came a 1.5-year gap as the actor went to the US and contemplated other directions for his future. Michael (2023) was the first time, Varun recalls, that he appeared as an antagonist, one with plenty of grey shades. He adds, “As an actor, I like playing such a character. The role in Michael opened doors for me as an actor. I was offered different and new kinds of films after it.”

In Nindha, which is billed as a suspense thriller, Varun plays a member of the National Human Rights Commission of India. While Varun admits that Telugu cinema has seen many films recently in this genre, he is equally assured about Nindha standing out for its execution. “This is a completely content-driven film. The screenplay is the soul here. The film entirely rides on suspense; there is no unnecessary comedy or romance track in it.”

Varun says he is a very jovial person; hence, playing an intense character like the one in Nindha was challenging for him. He notes, “When compared to my earlier films, I had to completely surprise myself. I am never this serious. Basically, I had to keep my true self aside to approach this film. I tried to express more with my eyes in it.”

Nindha marks the feature film debut for director Rajesh Jagannadham, who has also written and produced the film. Varun Sandesh praises Rajesh for making the process challenging, recalling one unique initiative from the director. “Usually, bound scripts are given to only the main lead. However, Rajesh gave the script, except for the final 15 pages, to every cast member. It helped because nobody knew the culprit while they were shooting. That was very nice and created a great ambience on sets.”

Varun also recalls being so impressed by Rajesh’s determination to go ahead with the film’s shoot despite having a ligament tear a few days before production was scheduled to commence. “I did it only for Rajesh Gaaru. I didn’t want to upset him.” The Happy Days actor lauds the debutant director for risking it out and deciding to produce the film against all odds. He says, “When I heard the Nindha story and said yes, it was only then that he told me he was producing the film. One needs a lot of guts to be a producer for their directorial debut. He wrote the dialogues, too. Basically, he was a one-man army for Nindha!”

Varun further talks about how working for Nindha has been helpful for the actor, even on a personal front. He says, “Rajesh is an amazing individual. They say that it’s difficult to make friends once you enter your 30s, but it felt like I found a big brother through this film. He is like a family member to me now.”

While Varun talks about his growth on personal and professional levels, he refuses to be accorded any labels. He says, “It’s the media that wants to give all these labels and tags, like ‘2.0 and all that.” Giving a cricket analogy while talking about his early years in the industry, he adds, “In my first innings, I played a few dot balls. But at the end of day, Varun Sandesh is Varun Sandesh, and he doesn’t want any of these labels.”

The actor states that he is satisfied with what he is doing. He promises that Nindha and his other upcoming films will be drastically different from his June 21 release. “I have been waiting for this feeling for so many years,” Varun signs off.

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