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Popular Kannada actor Sudeep is all set to make his debut in Telugu and Tamil cinema with Eega and Naan Ee respectively that will release this Friday with a record 1,200 prints across South India.
The film is directed by S S Rajamouli who has an enviable track record of delivering big hits in Telugu, including his last outing Magadheera.
Eega is a technical film in which a housefly plays an important role. The film boasts of computer graphics, special effects and animation shots with technicians from all over the world pitching in to deliver the goods.
The film, which has been in the making for more than two years, will see Sudeep in an unconventional role – that of an antagonist, who fights with the housefly.
In this interview with Srikanth Srinivasa, Sudeep talks about the film, the challenges he faced and the pleasure of working with director Rajamouli.
What is the film Eega all about? What does it convey?
Eega is the main character in the film. It doesn't convey anything. The film is about how a housefly takes revenge on a person.
When we talk about a housefly, there's nothing much it can actually do. Keeping all the practicalities in mind, the film is about how a fly does kill a man.
How is the film conceptualised?
The film is the conviction of a director. The trailer itself shows how a man gets killed and becomes a fly. Eega is all about how he takes revenge after he becomes a housefly.
The director has not tried to hide anything from the audience as he doesn't want people to come to the theatres with any pre-conceived notions.
Is Eega a technical film?
Yes, it is a technical film with a lot of hi-fi techniques. A lot of people from all over the world have worked on the film's special effects, which are of a very high standard.
The beauty of the film lies in how it is conceived and shot. It is a screenplay-oriented film and highly technical but that doesn't leave out any commercial elements that are required in Indian cinema.
What is your role in the film?
I play the antagonist.
How and why did you accept a negative role?
It is about a character. If you see Rajkumar's Kannada film Bhakta Prahlada, who played the main role? It was based on Hiranyakashipu but it was titled Prahlada. For that matter, when you see Spiderman, Batman or Superman, which is the character that is most remembered?
When you come out of the theatre nobody remembers those characters who are wearing the masks. It's the other characters who are the jokers or the villains who are remembered. Performers like Jim Carrey, Jack Nicholson, Arnold and Keith are remembered more than the masked characters.
What were the challenges you faced?
I needed to understand who the other character was as there was none. It was more like mono acting for me. The housefly is what you will see in the theatres. I had to react to something which was non-existent on the set.
It was very difficult for me and a good task too. I never thought I would get to play such a character because you have to either be a hero or a villain.
It was a very challenging character because conventionally a villain gets kicked by the hero. In this film there is no hero. There's only a housefly. I had to carry the emotions throughout the film.
Occasionally, I used to see 'human' actors coming onto the sets and it was a welcome relief for me. I shared a few scenes with Samantha and a few with Nani.
How was it working with a director like Rajamouli?
Fantastic and mind-blowing. I took home a lot of good thoughts about how prepared a person is when he comes on the sets and about his foresight and imagination.
Rajamouli has amazing energy. He is not an arm-chair director. Being the big director that he is, he has no airs and is easily approachable. He comes prepared. He acts and shows it to us.
For instance, if there is a rope shot, he ties it on himself first. Every detail has been worked out this way.
What was your initial reaction when Rajamouli came to narrate the story?
I had no pre-conceived notions. I met him with a clear mind. I knew he would do it in a big way. He saw me in Runn and wanted me.
I was sure that he was not offering me just another character because it is not easy to get someone from another industry to work with any director. It's good to work in an environment where you are wanted. I was welcomed there.
I was kicked with the thought of the film. It was not only different but it was being handled by someone who is highly capable of doing it. I had no hitches.
Only he could come up with such an imaginative script and that is why he is Rajamouli.
Was the film shot simultaneously in Tamil and Telugu?
Yes, the film was simultaneously shot in Telugu and Tamil. First, I had to mouth my lines in Telugu and then immediately in Tamil. Although I have done a small role in the Telugu film Raktacharitra, I could call this my formal launch both in Telugu and Tamil.
Why did it take you so long to do Tamil and Telugu cinema?
As an actor, I was not looking for work in Telugu or Tamil cinema. I am happy doing my Kannada films.
I have got this opportunity because of what I have done in Kannada and what Kannada audiences have given me. It is better to accept such roles when opportunity comes knocking on my door.
How important is it to know a language when you are acting in a different industry?
Exploring is more important. If you have to reach out to someone, it is familiarity that matters. It brings a smile on my face when people recognise me outside as someone from Bengaluru.
Recognition is important for all actors as it is not enough if you are recognised here and not known outside.
How comfortable were you while saying your lines in Telugu or Tamil?
It's the same wherever you go. The camera is the same. It's only the language that you need to take control of.
It's not easy to work in a different language. For me, after a day's work, I used to sit with the assistant director to learn the dialogues and not go partying. I needed to concentrate a lot.
I have dubbed for myself in both the versions. It was a fantastic experience as it allowed me to improvise further.
Do you think Celebrity Cricket League (CCL) helped you get this launch in other languages?CCL has helped us know one another and has opened so many doors for all of us. Today, we are just a phone call or a text message away. Earlier, if we had to sign someone from another industry, we had to get hold of their managers but now that has changed. Thanks to CCL.