Kannada actor Kichcha Sudeep, who was recently in the UAE to enjoy the ongoing Indian Premier League matches, felt a sense of deja vu when he looked out from his hotel balcony and gazed at the towering Burj Khalifa.
Around nine months ago on January 31, that glittering skyscraper was lit up with the logo of his forthcoming big-ticket film ‘Vikrant Rona’ and the reveal coincided with him clocking 25 years in the Kannada film industry.
“I still can’t believe that we were able to pull that off, a visual poster on the Burj Khalifa may sound simple, but it was a huge task. Centring those actors in every frame along that tall structure was a task and it took us more than one and a half months to get it all ready,” said Sudeep in a sit-down interview with Gulf News.
By all standards, it was a mammoth reveal for this Kannada action-adventure, often dubbed as South India’s answer to James Bond, and Sudeepa was at the forefront of creating the right amount of buzz around his new film.
“When I saw the poster of ‘Vikrant Rona’ through an aerial perspective and from a distance, it felt so surreal and exciting. The magnitude of the launch felt surreal,” he added.
The ardent cricketer and acting icon — who commands an army of devoted followers — describes his long innings to playing test matches in crickets. Unlike one-day matches, test matches aren’t limited by balls or runs and play out over five days.
“An actor is just like a cricketer. You are playing a test match and you need to have patience and it’s not a luxury in an actor’s life. We don’t have the option of not being patient. Sometimes things don’t happen the way you want it to or it may not happen on the day you want it to and that’s a simple fact of life,” said Sudeepa.
Over his eventful career, Sudeepa has made sure that he didn’t let the flops define his existence. There’s another key ingredient to his lasting success too.
Changing with the times is equally important, believes the revered idol.
The actor, who has worked in dozens of blockbusters and in Bollywood films such as the Salman Khan-starrer ‘Dabangg 3’ where he played the villain, remembers how he was recently gutted when he saw his building’s watchman enjoy a film on his phone. A large action-set scene with bullets being sprayed all around and choppers whirring in the background was being relished on a screen smaller than the size of his palm.
“And that hurt because I thought of the producer who spent so much money on that shot filled with 1,000 choppers and half of it was not even visible to him! It hurt!” said Sudeepa. The sacrilegious episode made him wonder about the challenging times ahead of him as an actor.
“Imagine someone’s wife or mother takes hours to cook a meal expecting you to have it at the dining table, but instead of doing that we just rush into our car grabbing it on our way. Your hunger may be satisfied but did you really enjoy that meal on the go? That’s the same feeling I get when I see people watching big films on their phones,” said Sudeepa.
While he’s underwhelmed by big-ticket films premiering on streaming platforms, thus denying audiences the pleasure of watching a film on the big screen, he realises that this smaller medium is going to be a constant in their lives; and embracing change will help him move with the times.
“Thing are changing right now. But it doesn’t mean that we lose hope completely in our theatres. What will be, will be and we just need to be prepared for every challenge … We all make movies to tell a story and the story has to be good,” he added.
With Maharashtra lifting their lockdown on theatres, Bollywood films that were stalled due to the pandemic are now being rolled out, signalling that the theatre industry in India will see a revival of sorts.
Asked if he would consider acting in a web series, Sudeepa keeps it pragmatic.
“I shoot in my studios and my films go everywhere. Whether it’s the OTT [over-the-top or streaming platforms] or the cinemas, it shouldn’t matter as long as I am able to tell my story. The medium doesn’t matter, the story does,” he said.