‘Kannada industry should’ve made film on Shakuntala Devi’  

By A Sharadhaa| Express News Service | Published: 29th July 2020 10:34 AM

Prakash Belawadi is an actor beyond regions, and well-known for donning many hats, including that of an actor, theatre artiste, teacher, journalist, activist, and motivational speaker. This multi-faceted personality, who began his journey in Kannada cinema, is now a popular face in Bollywood, and South cinema as well. Belawadi shares that he feels a sense of belonging with Bollywood. “Even though director Girish Karnad gave me my first big role in the movie Kanooru Heggadithi, I didn’t get noticed much. It is only after I got established in Bollywood that mainstream directors from Kannada cinema began noticing me. I got cast in off-beat films directed by TN Seetharam, and Mahantesh Ramdrug’s Aggasi Parlour, but participation in mainstream cinema took time,” says Belawadi.

The actor’s in the news for his upcoming Hindi biopic, Shakuntala Devi, that is to be out on Amazon Prime on July 31. The film, starring Vidya Balan, has the actor playing the father to the genius mathematician. “It’s a small role, but I agreed because it’s a biopic, and it is about one of our own. It’s a film that the Kannada industry should have thought of and made. It is an important story.”

The actor, who shares that science and math were his favourite subjects growing up, reminisces fond memories of meeting Shakuntala Devi. “I was in my sixth standard when she had come to our school, and I remember how stunned we all were, with how she would make calculations. This programme was organised alongside a magic show. She was a living legend for us. Having interacted with her and having got her autographs, I can tell you that the memories are still fresh,” he says.

Belawadi, who is not at liberty to divulge too much about his role, shares, “Fathers are big influencers, and in control of the family, especially from the perspective of the children. It is a combination of family structure and patriarchy. This comes into play in my role in Shakuntala Devi, and is crucial.”

Though he is happy to be part of the biopic, his grouse is that the film could not be shot in Bengaluru. “She is so much a Bengaluru-Mysuru person, but they preferred to shoot in other places,” says Belawadi, who commends writer and director Anu Menon for choosing the life of Shakuntala Devi to make a film on. On Vidya Balan, who plays the mathematician, he says, “I am a big fan of her. She is pivotal in the return of female-centric films.”

‘Watching OTT content is like ordering a pizza’

W ith OTT being all the rage, it is surprising to learn that Prakash Belawadi, who is gearing for the release of the biopic on Shakuntala Devi, hasn’t watched a single web series so far. “Watching a film or a web series on a streaming platform is like ordering a pizza. I am someone who likes to watch it with people and discuss the work.

The idea of watching something in the comfort of my home does not interest me, unless the content is a biography. If my friends have acted, I usually watch one episode, but otherwise, I don’t like watching web series. I am a boring person by nature, and don’t get entertained easily,” says Prakash, adding, “Having said that, I will be watching Shakuntala Devi for all the reasons I have mentioned. The film is culturally and socially an important project. I am an admirer of Vidya Balan and the director who had the gumption to helm such a project. I will also be watching Nikhil Advani’s web series, for it is about a topic that is very much to my interest.”

Belawadi has also been part of a few web series, and a couple of films that are lined up for release. “I have done three web series, out of which Smoke made by Eros has been released. I am looking forward to Mumbai Diaries 26/11, directed by Nikhil Advani, which is based on the Mumbai attack. It was a fantastic experience working on that project, and it is slated for a digital release on November 26  on Prime.  There is also an offbeat web series, whose working title is Wonder Pill, that I have done for MX Player.

I am also a part of Saad Khan’s Humble Politician Nograj, which is coming out as a web series,” he says. “As for films, I will be seen in Yuvarathnaa starring Puneeth Rajkumar, along with a few other Kannada films. I also have an interesting Tamil film, Suriya’s upcoming venture, Soorarai Pottru, which is again about a Bengaluru character. It is Captain Gopinath’s story dramatised and fictionalised. This is again a subject that Kannada filmmakers missed out on.”

Tags : Shakuntala Devi Prakash Belawadi

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