The first thing that hits you when you meet Bollywood actor and international model Upen Patel, is his height. Standing tall at six feet, Upen has a newly acquired lean look, for his Tamil debut, Shankar’s Ai. In a chat with CE, Upen reveals how the film marks a new beginning for him.
“For me, being part of Ai, is like been born again!” gushes Upen. “Everyday, I’m surrounded with masters of their craft, like Shankar, PC Sreeram and Vikram. Just watching them at work, inspires me to work harder!” Upen is all praise for Shankar. “I feel blessed that he spotted me and gave me this break in a new industry. He is so simple and soft-spoken and fun-loving as well. I love our rapport. He’s very patient and gives me time to prepare and perform. He never rushes anything and never compromises in his quest to give the best to the audience. He’s so passionate about cinema, I can see him watching the movie in his head constantly!”
On a strict diet and workout plan for his lean look, Upen is preparing for some special scenes in the movie, which he cannot divulge. “The role will stay in the audience’s memory for a long time,” is all he says. About his co-stars he says, “Vikram is amazingly dedicated and even between shots, he stays in character. Amy Jackson is also from Britain like me, so we bonded well. In fact, the whole atmosphere on sets is very intense and everybody stays in focus. For me, it’s a huge high, and has whetted my appetite to do more Tamil films.”
The globetrotting model, heads to South Africa next, before returning to Chennai next month. With 10 Hindi films behind him, Upen is now ready to take on a new frontier, “The South has ace technicians and master storytellers. This is the cinema I want to be part of! Though I was nervous on the first day because of the new language and culture, now, we are like one family! The work culture here is invigorating and has grown on me. From England, I made my career in Bollywood. Now, I want to carve a name for myself in a new territory here, where people have never heard of me! I’m waiting to see my first posters and the first fan in Chennai who will take my autograph after watching Ai!”