He is an actor who has often admitted that he was never a fitness freak and had no agenda in life. Yet, for S Krishna’s Pailwaan, Sudeep put himself through rigorous training, hitting the heavy bag, stepping into the ring to knock a punch, and doing whatever it takes to be a wrestler and boxer on screen. Result: The actor is now confident about posing shirtless.
A lot of hype has been created round the film, but Sudeep says he didn’t dream that such a character would come his way. The project has changed his perception about fitness. “Today, I am confident about going shirtless on the sets of the Hindi film, Dabangg 3, especially in front of an actor like Salman Khan, who has been doing this for years. I also feel good that I started this practice from Kannada cinema. Even my family didn’t expect me to do this, and they are appreciative about it. I will now wait to see the reaction from my people about this role as Pailwaan,” he says.
Sudeep, who had to prepare for the role of a wrestler and boxer, didn’t take inspiration from any expert, or actor who has played such roles. “First of all, I was surprised with director Krishna’s decision to choose an actor like me, (who is not fit), in mind to play a wrestler or boxer, when he can sign up other actors. But when I was told that I can pull it off, I didn’t have anybody in mind to emulate. I started with ‘A for Apple, B for Bat’ for Pailwaan,” he recalls.
To prepare for the character, he watched wrestling and boxing episodes on YouTube, and videos of Muhammad Ali, and a lot of boxer-based films. “This sport is not something which you can pick up after three-four weeks of training. Some shots were actually improvised on the spot,” says Sudeep, admitting that if he had six more months, he could have done better. Made under the banner of RRR Motion Pictures, Pailwaan is getting a worldwide release in five languages on Thursday, while the Hindi version will hit the screens in India on Friday. According to Sudeep, a pan-India release is a good development, and he was happy that the promotions went well in all regions.
“In the present scenario, when it comes to cinema, there is nothing like a national language, and every language is equal. I have met actors from other regions on the cricket field. The exchange of actors across different regions has also brought in new ideas, and I am happy that we also stand on that platform,” says Sudeep, adding that taking a film across the country is not an easy task.
“There should be a reason to take a film to different languages across India. It would also require that kind of publicity. I have realised that the investment that goes into it is equal to making one Kannada film. Personally, I should thank my time. The fact that I made a mark in certain languages in 2008 helped me make a foundation across other regions,” he points out.
The actor, who had dubbed in three languages (Tamil, Telugu, and Hindi) for Eega, has dubbed in four languages for Pailwaan. Though he found it mentally stressing. He adds that if dubbing is enjoyed, it is a beautiful place to be in for an actor. “Dubbing helps you cover the loopholes, and enhance the performance. With Pailwaan, the improvisation went from language to language,” he explains.
Despite being a director himself, Sudeep preferred to be just an actor for Pailwaan and go by the director Krishna’s vision. “Just because I am an actor, I did not just wait around for my shot, nor did Krishna hesitate to suggest things to me. Every morning, we would sit for discussions and exchange of thoughts, and we had debates and arguments at times. However, as a director, Krishna had his own style of making the film, which I have tried to bring on the screen,” he says.
For Sudeep, the best part of Pailwaan was also sharing screen space with Suniel Shetty, who is making his South Indian film debut. According to the actor, whether it was Ravichandran in Manikya, or Suniel Shetty in Pailwaan, it is mutual respect that enables the makers to bring down actors of that stature. “Suniel is an actor who commands respect, which I have observed on the cricket field. This particular character demanded an actor like him. He not only came with a lot of love, but like a young student, he also learned Kannada,” he adds.
Sudeep, who had a lot to do to become a Pailwaan, does not have a hangover now. “For an actor, a character should be dealt with then and there, according to the director’s vision. During the making of Pailwaan, I also went to the sets of Kotigobba 3 and Dabanng 3. So I can’t take any character seriously. Of course, with Pailwaan, the only hangover is the discipline, and workout has become an addiction now. Though there is some relief, I am still maintaining the same regimen,” he signs off.