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Sendhil Ramamurthy: I have quit Heroes

Last updated on: May 5, 2010 11:37 IST

'I have quit Heroes'


Matthew Schneeberger in Mumbai

Need evidence of the Indian Diaspora's increasing importance in world cinema?

Look no further than It's a Wonderful Afterlife which hits Indian screens on May 7.

It's been directed by Indian-origin British filmmaker Gurinder Chadha and stars American Indian Sendhil Ramamurthy and world-renowned Indian actress, Shabana Azmi.

In a way, for Sendhil, working in the British film signals he's come full circle.

Before earning fame and recognition as Dr Mohinder Suresh on US drama series Heroes, Sendhil went to acting school in London and spent much as a struggling stage actor in the city's rich drama scene.

Now, after a long, successful run on Heroes, Sendhil's leaving the show and appears to be focusing on his big-screen ventures.

Here, he discusses It's a Wonderful Afterlife, his future in Indian cinema and how it was to work a legend of Indian film, Shabana Azmi. Excerpts from the interview:

Image: A scene from Its a Wonderful Afterlife


'I was not aware of Shabana's work when I met her'

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After tremendous success on television in the US, you've done overseas projects like Shor and It's a Wonderful Afterlife. Why now? Did you feel that your best option for transitioning to films would be through foreign cinema? Why not Hollywood films?

I don't see films as Hollywood or Bollywood. I would do films if my character is good, regardless of which part of the world they are from.

I have been offered films from Bollywood before, but I didn't do them only because those films didn't excite me. When I came through It's A Wonderful Afterlife and Shor, I did them because I liked what I was getting to do in these films.

What was it like working with a legend of Indian cinema, Shabana Azmi? Had you seen any of her previous work? How does she compare to top actresses in the West?

It was nice. I was not aware of her work when I met her. She gave me DVDs of a few of her films and I saw them. She is a fantastic performer and has a huge body of work behind her.

My parents are big fans of hers. They were very excited when they heard I am doing a film with her. They came on sets while we were shooting and even got some snaps clicked with her.

Image: A scene from Its a Wonderful Afterlife

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'You will laugh throughout the film and forget all your worries'

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How did you sign on to It's a Wonderful Afterlife? How was the shooting experience? How was Gurinder? What are your expectations as it releases?

Gurinder knew about me because of Heroes. She met me in London over some good Chinese food, where we spoke about It's A Wonderful Afterlife.

I had heard a lot about her and wanted to work with her. She is very famous in Hollywood.

I really liked the story of the film. It is funny -- a typical Gurinder Chadha film and a complete entertainer. I want people to just go there and enjoy watching it. You will laugh throughout the film and forget all your worries.

You play a British Indian police officer. How familiar are you with the British Indian community? Do you think it differs tremendously from the Indian American community, of which you're a part?

Yes, I am familiar with the British Indian community. It differs, basically, because of the cultural differences and the way of living in British and American communities. Historically there is a lot of difference between the two.

British Indian communities have been there for a long time, three generations in some cases, while Indian American communities are very recent immigrants. Skill sets and outlook is also very different between the two communities.

Image: A scene from Its a Wonderful Afterlife

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'I would do a song and dance if required'

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You were just in India earlier this year to shoot Shor. How was that shooting experience?

Oh, it was good. We were shooting in all real locations, but I never got to see any other place in Mumbai. I will visit Mumbai soon and explore the whole city.

Any more Indian films you're considering or have signed?

No, not yet. I have heard few a scripts, but have not finalised anything. My new show, Covert Affairs, has kept me busy.

In the past, you've seemed to hold Indian song-and-dance films in some contempt. Do you think they're beneath someone of your acting pedigree?

No, nothing like that. I would do a song and dance if required. It would be fun, I think. But I would certainly not do a film where the story is not good or my character is not meaty enough. If the film is good in terms of the script and characters, I would have no problem doing whatever it would take to make a good film.

What sort of Indian films have excited you of late?

Unfortunately, I have not seen many Hindi films. I want to watch 3 Idiots, as I've heard a lot about the film.

Image: A scene from Its a Wonderful Afterlife

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'If I get a good script, I might do a Kannada film'

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When you see the success of some people in India, say a Katrina Kaif, what does that say about the Indian film industry? Would you ever follow her footsteps and do a dubbed Hindi film?

I don't have much of an idea about her and would not be able to comment on this.

All I can say is hard work pays for sure and for films in any part of the world. Apart from talent, you need loads of luck.

Whether I would do a dubbed film or not depends on the kind of film I choose and whether my character has to speak a language that I am not good at. I would try to learn the language for sure. But all this I am talking about on a very superficial level.

You speak Kannada. Any chance we could see you in a Kannada film some day soon?

I don't know. If I get a good script, why not?

Rumour has it that you're leaving Heroes. Can you confirm this for us? Was this necessary move at this point?

Yes, I have quit the show as of now. But you never know -- I can return next season of the show! Till then, you will have to wait and watch.

Did you feel you were stagnating?

Not really. Heroes has given me all the recognition that I am enjoying today. I can't thank Tim (creator of the show) enough for making me part of the team. 

The show changed my world. It opened many doors for me. And I will always be there with Heroes emotionally. We all have become great friends and are in touch on a regular basis.

Image: Sendhil, Gurinder Chadha and Goldy Notay

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