It’s a tradition in Tamil cinema to have actors from the North play our villains. We had Nana Patekar in Kaala, Akshay Kumar in 2.0, Jackie Shroff in Bigil, and more recently, Sunil Shetty in Darbar.
But in a twist, Ganesh Venkatraman in making his Bollywood debut as the antagonist of Guns of Banaras, the Hindi remake of Polladhavan.
“For any regional actor, working in a Hindi film will get them more visibility. And since I know the language, this is something I’ve wanted to do,” says an excited Ganesh.
The Abhiyum Naanum actor, however, says he was careful about choosing the film with which he crossed over. “It is important to be part of the right film, and play the right character, to get noticed.” Since this is Polladhavan’s official remake, Ganesh had no doubts about the script. The film was remade in Kananda as Punda. As for the character, he says, “It was a challenge for me as the role is something I have never done before. It was also tricky getting the nativity of Banaras right.” His portrayal, he says, will be a fresh take on Daniel Balaji’s role in the original.
Ganesh also played a negative role in the 2018 Malayalam film, My Story, and won acclaim. “I have always been open to trying new things. When I worked with Amitabh sir in Kandahar (his Malayalam debut), he advised me to never limit myself to a language or a platform.”
Being multilingual helped, of course, and Ganesh believes these opportunities are helping him break the ‘handsome, gentleman image’ he has in Tamil.
“Even my Bigg Boss stint heightened the good-guy image. As an actor, I want my onscreen persona to break what they already know about me from real life. I want to shock them.”
And that’s exactly the response he has received for the Guns Of Banaras trailer. “My friends in the Tamil industry were shocked that it was me. They said I look and sound very menacing and evil,” he laughs, adding that he wants strong anti-hero roles in Tamil as well. Apart from Guns of Banaras, Ganesh will also be seen in Yugi Sethu’s directorial, which marks the latter’s comeback to the industry.
“It is a supernatural thriller completely shot in London. We only have the last schedule left and the film will be ready for release soon.”