As Muniratna’s Kurukshetra wraps up its final portions in Hyderabad this week, City Express got hold of a few pictures from the sets and sat down for a conversation with Darshan, who plays Duryodhana in the movie.
Did he expect a film like Kurukshetra to come his way?
“Not at all,” he says, adding, “some things are destined to happen”. The actor says that how the magnum opus fell into his lap and how it was Muniratna who made it possible. Darshan has worked with for the movie Anatharu. “Muniratna’s not being a regular producer, his choice of films is exceptional... I still remember when he called me about this project, I couldn’t be there because of a prior commitment. A day before I was leaving for Malaysia for another film’s shoot, he insisted that we have a discussion. Over a cup of green tea, he talked about Kurukshetra with me,” says Darshan. The actor says that he was surprised that a man serious in politics wanted to take up films. “I asked him what kind of a film, and he shocked me by saying Kurukshetra. I had been wondering about what my 50th project could be, and even had kept a slot empty. Meanwhile Muniratna had decided that I would be the perfect Duryodhana and just wanted a green signal from me. All of it fell in place,” he says.
‘I had to listen to various versions of Kurukshetra'
The project was conceived in May and then went on floors in two months. Did the actor prepare for his character from day one? “I had never asked for different version of any film pitched to me, but I did that for Kurukshetra. Once we decided on the final version, I started imagining the character, and sketched it in my mind, even while I was shooting for another film. For every doubt, I called up Muni, (Muniratna) who was always only a phone call away,” he says.
‘I am basically a theatre artiste’
A regular commercial film is a cakewalk for Darshan but to do a mythological drama he needed to prepare extensively to get the dialogues, costumes and mannerisms right. “Though I have been tagged a commercial hero, I am basically a theatre artiste. The lessons I was taught at Ninasam still remain with me, and I did use them while working on Sangolli Rayanna and now it is Kurushetra. Lessons in theatre helped me get the talk, walk, laugh, posture and even the brightness of my eyes right for this period drama. There are many costume changes and I had to keep the character in mind through all of it,” he says.
‘Being at Ramoji City for months felt like prison’
Of course, spending five long months away from home has taken a toll on Darshan. “It felt like jail to me, except that we had the privilege of a good accommodation with TV and good food,” he says.
‘Fitness was crucial to play Duryodhana’
The actor’s day would begin at 5.30 am, and his first task was to hit the gym. Fitness is crucial to playing Duryodhana. “Nobody has seen Duryodhana, and we don’t how he looks. But in cartoons and old films, he is shown as big built with bulging biceps. So, we all assume that he looked like that. To fit into that role, I had to keep fit,” says Darshan, adding that he is thankful to the producer for setting up a good gym right on the sets. “Secondly, I had to keep myself bare-chested for the character and wear costumes that covered my upper body with sharp-edged ornaments. They cut me many times, and I still carry these scars,” he says.
I literally rolled on bed in agony, rehearsing some dialogues
After fitness, dialogues are important in a period drama, he says. “I am no master at delivering lengthy dialogues on the spot, and moreover some lines were also written in Sanskrit. There is one scene in which dialogues were written in three alphabets, Ta Tha and Da. There was one and half pages, written by Dr Nagendra Prasad, that established only these alphabets. I literally rolled on the bed in agony while rehearsing these lines. I had to get every word right, otherwise the scene would be ruined. There is another lengthy conversation between Krishna and Duryodhana and between the two of us, we had around 15 pages of dialogues to deliver,” he says.
‘2D is good, but a epic drama in 3D will be a treat‘
What excites Darshan about Kurukshetra the most is that this mythological drama has been made in 3D. “We have watched historical films on silver screen TV, therefore watching it on 3D will be a novelty and a treat. Though both formats would follow the same storyline, the effect would be entirely different. Even we had to emote every scene twice,” he says.
‘Film like Kurukshetra is not every producer’s cup of tea‘
Darshan tells us that he would have been happy to play every character in Kurukshetra, though he is equally happy for a chance to work with seniors of the industry including Srinath, Ambareesh, Ravichandran, Arjun Sarja and Ravi Shankar. “Kurukshetra is not only about Duryodhana, every character is important,” says the actor, “A film like Kurukshetra is not every producer’s cup of tea. And it was Muniratna who had the guts to do it. Even every artiste who has worked on this movie has done it as a challenge.”