Regarded as one of the funniest men in the Telugu film industry, actor Sunil Varma is equally hilarious off screen as well. With no airs or arrogance around him, the comedian-turned-actor came across as genuine, soft-spoken and funny – much like he is often projected on screen -- while talking about his anticipated release. Admitting that he will always be a comedian at heart, he tells us how being a lead actor has left an impact on him as an actor on the whole.
Making the switch
Having entertained people as a comedian for years, Sunil’s breakthrough as a lead actor came with SS Rajamouli’s Maryada Ramanna. “As a comedian, there is no tension at all. The happiness you get as a character artist or a comedian, you will not get as a hero. When you are a hero, the success of a your film is personal. If a movie is a hit or a flop, it personally affects you. However, for a comedian, even if the movie doesn’t do so well, if the few comic scenes in the film are appreciated, then it is considered a personal success,” he shares.
For someone who was being touted as the next Brahmanandam in the industry, we wonder why he chose to make the switch? “I never had ambitions of becoming a hero. I was always content being a comedian as it brought me great satisfaction. This is why, even though Andala Ramudu was a huge success, I continued as a comedian and did not take up a lead role until after five years. I got pulled back into acting only because of Rajamouli. Today, whatever I am as a hero is because of him,” he explains.
Though Maryada Ramanna was his breakthrough film as a lead actor, Sunil had made his debut in a lead role with Andala Ramudu in 2006. However, breaking out of one’s comfort zone is never easy and the same insecurities bothered Sunil.
“Initially when I was offered the role in Maryada Ramanna, I said no. I was not sure if I would be able to pull it off. Normally as a comedian, I am involved in a maximum of 10 scenes in a film. I was not sure if I had it in me to keep the audience engaged for two and a half hours. However, after two years, the director convinced me to do it and I decided to take it up as a challenge; I was happy to be able to pull that off.”
However, despite his reservations, Sunil says it was his support group of friends and well wishers who helped him pull through. “Through this journey as an actor, I have been fortunate enough to be acquainted with some of the biggest stars and directors in the industry. I have always been friendly with everyone and because of their help and support, I was able to take the next step.”
With his next solo film releasing today, the actor says he is now open to all kinds of roles. “I am open to working as both a comedian as well as an actor. Whatever the script demands, I will do it,” he claims.
Given his earlier success as a comedian, Sunil’s chubby physique seemed to go well with his characters. But turning into a lead actor meant shedding the flab and a lot of hard work. The actor made heads turn when he showed off a six-pack in his movie Poola Rangadu in 2010. The transformation went well with the audience considering it was also around the time that Sharukh Khan and Aamir Khan were sporting the abs for their films Om Shanti Om and Ghajini respectively. Though he doesn’t have the envious six-pack anymore, Sunil definitely enjoys a much more fit physique right now, though his character in Bheemavaram Bullodu requires him to be slightly more chubby.
“I still don’t know how I got a six-pack to be honest. Again I had a lot of support from my friends in the industry. Mahesh Babu had told me to follow a particular diet and he said that I can do it. So I took his advice and suggestions from a few others and worked towards it,” shares the 39-year-old. The actor credited his trainer as well for accomplishing the feat. “I worked very hard for it and my trainer should get a lot of credit. I worked out at a gym in old city. Over there, the trainer did not care if I was an actor or not, he just made me work really hard and that helped me a lot,” he explains. Pointing out that as an actor he’s willing to change his physical appearance – be it chubby, muscular or lean, Sunil’s ultimate goal is to please his audience. “Having entertained the people as a both a comedian and an actor, I aspire to be someone in the mould of Govinda, or Rajendra Prasad,” he shares.
Being Bheemavaram Bullodu
As one would expect with Sunil, the film promises plenty of entertainment. “From the first scene till the end, the film will provide entertainment. The dialogues are brilliantly written and our main motto is to entertain people,” says Sunil. Hailing from Bheemavaram himself, the actor says he was both nervous and proud to represent his town. “At first I was nervous and tensed as I’m representing the entire town and I did not want to tarnish its image with a bad film. However, after watching it, I am relieved as we have produced a really entertaining film and it is something the people will enjoy,” he says, adding that the film does not have any suspense or drama. “It is a straight and simple film. One must not expect suspense or drama. It is about how a dying man saves his love amidst external pressure from others. The dialogues, the artistic element and the characters will appeal to the audience,” he says confidently. The actor will next be working on two untitled projects with producer Nallamalupu Bujji and director Gopi Mohan.