‘An actor should be able to portray a range of emotions,’ says Abhinav Gomatam

Tollywood actor Abhinav Gomatam on his journey from engineering to stardom, theatre beginnings, and future aspirations
Actor Abhinav Gomatam
Actor Abhinav Gomatam

HYDERABAD: He made us laugh and certainly made us smile every time we thought about him. His character in Telugu movies has been exceptional. Even today, when we think about a movie that made us laugh and go crazy, it is “Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi,” where actor Abhinav Gomatam set a benchmark in the film. While he is hilarious in playing funny characters, he also excels in every other role given to him. CE had an opportunity to connect with him to know about his journey thus far and learn more about him as an actor, a jovial, and creative person.

Did you always want to be a part of the film industry?

No, I wasn’t born with dreams of stardom. I started thinking about acting only in the second year of engineering. I realised I needed to do something I truly enjoyed and could excel at on my own terms. After engineering, I made the shaky decision to enter the film industry, which was unusual at the time. Typically, engineers went on to pursue higher studies in the US or London, but I felt that four years of engineering was enough. I wanted a career beyond the confines of an office. My love for movies started in the 8th grade, and during engineering, I participated in stage shows at college fests. My friends enjoyed my performances and encouraged me, so I decided to give acting a try.

You were a theatre person before you played in movies. Tell us about that phase of your life.

After finishing engineering, my parents were concerned and wanted me to pursue higher studies in the US. It was a shock to them when I expressed my desire to become an actor. I spent six months doing nothing, which worried my mother. Eventually, I got a job at Dell in Hyderabad and started looking for theatre groups. I found a theatre festival at Ravindra Bharathi and met like-minded people there. Theatre doubled my urge for acting and served as a great starting point. I joined various theatre groups, which I didn’t even know existed in Hyderabad. Theatre taught me a lot about acting, modulation, and expression, serving as a warm-up for the screen. I did theatre for three years, participating in English and Hindi plays, which significantly shaped my acting skills.

From excelling in comic roles to now doing dramatic scenes, how was the change?

Before “Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi,” I did four or five films that didn’t do well at the box office. “Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi” was my first comedy role in films, although I never did comedy in theatre. Theatre mostly involved drama and tragedy. Returning to dramatic roles feels like going back to basics. An actor should be able to portray a range of emotions, and I strive to do my best with each role. The audience’s positive response to “Masthu Shades Unnai Ra” was very gratifying.

Who are your inspirations?

As a kid and even now, I am inspired by Chiranjeevi Garu. His body of work is mind-blowing. Other inspirations include Rajnikanth Garu, Kamal Haasan Garu, Amitabh Bachchan Garu, Shahrukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and Manoj Bajpayee. Internationally, I admire Jim Carrey and Will Smith. I also idolise Sachin Tendulkar and would love to be the Sachin Tendulkar of the film industry (laughs).

Are you as spontaneous in real life as you are in your comic roles?

I’m generally expressive, and some of that comes through in my roles. My friends and family could probably tell you more about my spontaneity. I like to project energy and expressiveness in my performances.

Did you ever try standup comedy?

Yes, I tried standup comedy during my theatre days. I used to write two-liners on Facebook and enjoyed the feedback. A friend suggested a book on joke writing, which I took seriously, but it ended up making me overthink the process. I felt it ruined my natural sense of humour. Writing jokes consistently is necessary for standup, and while I’m not sure I’m cut out for that, I might try again someday.

What do you do in your free time?

I enjoy spending time with people who aren’t involved in acting. I watch movies in various languages, thanks to OTT platforms. I recently returned to reading, picking up some love stories and a book about a political leader. I prefer murder mysteries or thrillers that are real page-turners. I also love road trips and have travelled to places like Mysore, Pondicherry, and Goa. Travelling in trains is another favourite pastime. When not shooting, I enjoy these kinds of trips.

Are there any series or films you wish you had been a part of?

I love “Breaking Bad,” “Game of Thrones,” “Big Bang Theory,” and “Chernobyl.” I also enjoy K-dramas like “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay.” During the lockdown, I started watching K-dramas and was impressed by their storytelling.

Which actors or directors would you like to work with?

I’d love to work with Sai Pallavi Garu again; she’s amazing. I also admire Manoj Bajpayee Garu, Chiranjeevi Garu, Kamal Haasan Sir, and Amitabh Bachchan Sir. Directors like Anurag Kashyap, Rajamouli Sir, and Sandeep Reddy Vanga are on my list. I’d love to have a conversation with Vanga about his filmmaking process.

Are you a foodie?

I enjoy trying different foods but I’m not the type to travel long distances for a specific dish. I love street food, especially in Delhi and Thailand. If I find myself at a good restaurant or food stall, I’m happy to try what they offer.

Would you like to act in a biopic? If so, who would you like to play?

When you asked, Sachin Tendulkar came to mind, but I don’t resemble him. Perhaps Rahul Dravid. I haven’t given it much thought, but if an interesting opportunity comes up, I’d take it.

Do you have any cherished fan moments?

I cherish heartfelt messages from fans on Instagram. Some messages are like essays, and they mean a lot to me. During tough times, reading these messages reminds me that people appreciate my work. I’m grateful for the support and love from my fans.

Any message for your fans and loved ones?

Take care of yourselves, both physically and mentally. Post-COVID, there’s a lot of emphasis on health. Engage in healthy practices and avoid judging others. It’s a waste of time. Focus on your well-being and be kind.

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