The feeling when you see yourself on film posters, channels and on the big screen is something I cannot explain. I’m just thrilled,” says one-film-old actor Raj Charan. Having featured in Manoratha, which released in 2018, the actor got a big break with his second outing, Ratnamanjari. Interestingly, Raj juggles between a full-time day job and an acting career, For his second film, he got selected through a social media platform.
“I was chosen by director PraSidh, who is based out of Denmark. He saw my photographs on Facebook and approached me for the auditions. After I met the producers and director in India, I was short-listed and finalised after two months,” says the student of Dr Nagathihalli Chandrashekar’s Tent Cinema.“In fact, initially I thought it was one of those fake calls, which any fresher looking for an acting break would assume. But when I got a call for the second time while the team was in India, I was certain that the caller was not dubious. I got comfortable once I saw a few familiar technicians in Kannada industry at the audition,” he adds.
Apparently, the producers, NRI Kannadigas, were initially planning on Indian artiste residing in the USA. “Since they couldn’t find a suitable actor, they chose me,” says Raj, who was naturally apprehensive of the route he was chosen through. “99.9 per cent auditions are fake and I have personally experienced many. Those who had given me a chance never went ahead with the project. And they were others who wanted me to invest money, if I wanted a lead role. At one point, I thought it was not my cup of tea. But this one audition changed my perspective towards cinema,” he says.
It was only after Raj was selected for Ratnamanjari did he take up various courses, including fight and dance workshops. Forty per cent of the film was shot in America, while the rest was shot in India. One of the song sequences was done in Malaysia.
Raj calls it a combination of luck and effort that bagged him the project. “I’m a mechanical engineer, with no background in films. My friends egged me to try out acting. Though I started my career with Manoratha, it went unnoticed. I hope this film will give me my break,” he says.
Raj goes on to says that it was the director PraSidh and producers of Ratnamanjari who stood by him through the film in which he had to face not one but two Arri Alexa cameras. “That’s quite something for a newcomer. These cameras have been used in films like Baahubali. The production house wanted the best for the project,” says Raj, who plays the role of an American botanist in the film. “It is based on a true incident. “Being a suspense thriller, I have asked to keep some aspects about my role secret,” he laughs. He adds that he is only allowed to say that he’s got a photographic memory in the film.
Interestingly, like the film’s heroines, even the hero has no clue of the climax. “They shot three climax sequences, and I don’t know which one has been finalised. The director wants it to remain a surprise till the film’s release,” he says.