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'When you're kissing someone, you aren't acting'

Last updated on: March 25, 2011 11:33 IST

'When you're kissing someone, you aren't acting'

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Shruti Indira Lakshminarayana in Bangalore

Raghu Mukherjee became a household name following his performance in Savaari released two years ago.

The Mr India-turned-actor now hopes to create waves in the film industry with his upcoming release Nee Illade.

Mukherjee talks about his role in the film, why he refuses to kiss on the screen kissing and director Jacob Vargese who gave him the much-needed breakthrough.

What is Nee Illade about?

It is the story of an aspiring musician and I play the role.  It's about my struggle to make it big. The film is also about how I help set right the life of a girl I meet. Pooja Gandhi is cast opposite me.


Image: A scene from Nee Illade

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'When I felt that I could understand filmmaking better, I returned to the industry'

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Did you struggle to establish yourself as a top model and then an actor?

Not really and there was no looking back ever since I became Mr India.

After the win, I was offered my first film Paris Pranaya. Then I went back to modelling and competed in the Mr International.

When I decided to come back to films, Saavari came my way.

So are you saying you didn't leave the industry as Paris Pranaya had failed to help your film career take off?

Yes. When I did my first film I was hardly 20. I felt that I was too young to understand the way the industry functioned.

Also there was a lot more for me to achieve as a model.

So I went back and took part in Mr International contest, did ramp shows and commercials.

When I felt that I was capable of understanding film making better, I considered returning to the industry.

The timing was perfect as I heard Jacob Vergese was looking to cast someone for Abhiram's role in Savaari.

We had a common friend and this friend recommended me to him.

Jacob and I hit it off well when we met for the first time.

Next, I watched the Telugu version and decided to be a part of the film. 


Image: A scene from Nee Illade

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'Jacob is very aesthetic in his approach'

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Savaari was a huge hit and your performance in the film was much appreciated Are you in anyway like Abhiram?

Yes! I guess that made it easier for me to slip into the character.

I also like the fact that Abhiram speaks very little. In fact speak only when spoken to.  In fact my shyness is often mistaken for arrogance.

It's just that I take more time to open up. Initially all my co-stars have felt that I was a stuck up guy but later on they realise that I'm an introvert. 

In Savaari, your character goes on to realise a lot about life from the people he meets and the incidents that take place when he sets off on a road trip in search of his Lady Love. In reality have there been any life changing moments for you?

Time, people and situations bring about a lot of changes in us. With each experience, we grow and there are several incidents that make us change our thought process.

Yes, there have been several incidents that have helped me realise my mistakes. And I decided to learn from those mistakes.

How was it working with Jacob Vergese?

He is brilliant, knows what he wants from his actors and is also someone who pays great attention to an actor's body language.

Jacob is very aesthetic in his approach.

For instance take the songs Ale ale and Marali mareyagi. At the stage Ale ale is played, the hero and heroine would have just met and there is no physical contact but by the time Marali mareyagi comes, the two are in love and are more comfortable with each other and thus there is a bit of physical contact.

Jacob believes in natural progression of characters and this is one reason why he hangs around the sets even when songs are being choreographed.


Image: A scene from Nee Illade

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'I don't plan things'

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Speaking of physical contact, is it true that you are against kissing onscreen?

Very much! I'm here to act and when you are kissing someone, you are not acting, it's actually happening and thus how can you call it acting?

Also I'm not comfortable with such a scene. So when I'm not giving my hundred per cent, how can I convince those watching the film?

What are the kinds of roles you are looking at doing?

I don't plan things. And the biggest example to that is my being in films today. In fact modelling was also not in my scheme of things.

I wanted to be a pilot. It's just that fashion guru Prasad Bidappa noticed me while I was part of choreographer MS Shreedhar's show.
And Shreedhar had noticed me at a college cultural event.

So here I am today!
 
What I am looking at is experimenting. And it's too early on in my career to zero in on a particular genre.

I just want to work with directors who can bring out the best in me; help me realise my potentials and also build characters around my persona. I want to work with directors who are exposed to world and its various ways.

Also for a film to work everything from casting, technicians, story and the director should fall in place.

Having said all that, I would love to do films like Sarkar Raj and Rakthacharitra.


Image: Raghu Mukherjee

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'I understand the hard work and logistics that go behind making a film'

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What do you think is the flipside of being a film actor?

As a film viewer, I used to either think of a movie as being totally awesome or simply crap and move on.

Now I understand the hard work and logistics that go behind making a film. I also know how hard people work to create their own style statements and to what crazy lengths they go so as to please people.

Another thing I have come to understand are the responsibilities attached to a star. Managing fans is a talent.

Sometimes we are worked up about shoots and are in a hurry to attend meetings and can't mingle with fans and this is mistaken for arrogance.

What are your upcoming projects?

Premachandrama, Panchamrutha in which I'll team up with Pooja Gandhi again and Golmal Ganesha with Ananth Nag are my upcoming projects.

Are you planning to host TV shows post D for Danger?

If the concept is interesting I wouldn't mind.

How about acting in other language films?

There have been offers but I'm at home in Bangalore.

What do you do in your spare time?

I hit the gym or spend quality time with my best buddy and wife Bhavana. With her around, there is hardly a dull moment. I'm also hooked to photography.  


Image: Raghu Mukherjee

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