S Shyam Prasad
It was well past 10 PM by the time we arrived at the resort along the East Coast Road (ECR), approximately 50 kilometers from Chennai and in proximity to Mahabalipuram. Thursday marked a working day and the same held true for Kichcha Sudeep on Friday, who has set up camp here to diligently work on his upcoming film, ‘Kichcha 46‘. Our imperative was to ensure his presence on the set the ensuing morning.
Our group of eight film journalists from Bengaluru, found ourselves in Chennai for a distinct assignment. Meeting with Sudeep wasn’t initially part of our 24-hour schedule. However, it was PRO Harish Aras who sparked the idea, and with just a phone call, Sudeep graciously agreed to meet us, notwithstanding his tightly packed work agenda. Though we recognized that making the 10 PM deadline was improbable, upon our arrival, Sudeep exhibited genuine delight at our unexpected visit, demonstrating his warmth even with our last-minute inclusion.
Sudeep’s innate hospitality was evident as he immediately inquired about our journey and our culinary preferences. Five of us opted for fruit juices and snacks, while the remaining three sought something more substantial. This marked the commencement of a two-hour dialogue on a plethora of topics. Our conversation was devoid of notes, recordings, or photo sessions; it was a candid exchange where we voiced concerns, questioned certain actions, and sought insights about his cinematic ventures. Sudeep attentively listened, adeptly navigated delicate subjects, and shared candid thoughts on various matters. Let me now recollect his discourse on ‘Kichcha 46,’ a film that has evoked eager anticipation from his fan base for a duration longer than they had hoped.
The Road to Recovery: Sudeep’s Battle with COVID-19
The significant hiatus between his previous film, “Vikrant Rona,” and his current venture, ‘Kichcha 46’ sparked curiosity and questions about the reasons behind this delay.
Sudeep opened up about his personal encounter with the devastating effects of COVID-19, which left him incapacitated for an extended period. Reflecting on his ordeal, he vividly recalled being afflicted during the third wave of the pandemic. He shared poignant stories of individuals who, despite being declared cured, tragically succumbed to the virus. Sudeep’s own recovery journey was marked by a regime of medications and steroids, initially empowering him with an illusion of restored strength. However, the true challenge manifested when these effects subsided, leaving him breathless after short walks and struggling to regain his vitality over several months.
He painted a picture of the months that followed, wherein he was gradually allowed to engage in a mere five minutes of daily exercise. The toll of his battle with the virus becomes apparent as he describes his body’s transformation during this period, characterized by bloatedness and a slower pace of progress.
Back on the Sets
The clamor for stars to grace more projects reverberates, prompting contemplation on the industry’s need for marquee talents. Sudeep addressed this demand, articulating his commitment. “Promising 3-4 films a year is too ambitious. But pursuing two films a year is definitely on the cards. That is what I am trying to do. I have finalized four distinctive scripts that are poised for development following ‘Kichcha 46’,” he revealed.
Sudeep’s Perspective on Directing
The question arose whether Sudeep will return to the director’s chair for his milestone 50th film. With a fondness for directing, he mused on his evolving priorities. He said he finds unparalleled joy in collaborating with directors and writers who craft stories tailored to his persona. He relishes the gratification of being envisioned as a central character in their narratives. Sudeep’s conviction is palpable as he shares his belief in the continuum of acting careers, citing icons like Amitabh Bachchan and Shiva Rajkumar and their cinematic legacies.
“Maybe when Shivanna was 40 he must have marveled at actors who were 60 and still playing lead roles. Now at 60 everyone else is marveling at him. He is not stopping. Great actors never stop,” he said. He went on to explain what he termed the ‘six kinds of actors’; from those who make a film or two and fade away to the evergreen stars that become living legends.
A Driving Force Beyond Wealth
Contrary to conventional motivations, Sudeep revealed that his pursuit of cinema is not fueled by monetary gain. “I have only one daughter and I am not leaving anything for my son-in-law. He will take care of her. I have earned enough for myself and my wife. I act in movies because that is what I love to do,” he said.
“Kichcha 46” A Cross-Cultural Collaboration
Diving into the specifics of “Kichcha 46,” Sudeep drew attention to a significant achievement – the collaboration between Kannada talent and esteemed Tamil producer Kalaipuli S Thanu. Renowned for his work with top Tamil stars, Thanu’s decision to produce a Kannada film symbolizes a harmonious cross-cultural endeavor. “We must be proud of the fact that one of the best known producers in Tamil is producing a Kannada film with Kannada actors and technicians here,” Sudeep pointed out.
Sudeep elucidated the rationale behind choosing to create a single-language film, debunking the notion of duplicating efforts. Drawing parallels to the successes of “KGF” and “Kantara,” Sudeep champions the idea of crafting a Kannada masterpiece that resonates globally.
“I cited the examples of “KGF” and “Kantar” to him and how these films, made in Kannada, have been accepted everywhere. I wanted “Kichcha 46” to be made in Kannada and taken to the world. He agreed to the reasoning. Artistes and technicians from Sandalwood make up 90 per cent of this project. Ajaneesh Loknath is composing the music. Shekar Chandra is the DoP. You see Sandalwood actors and technicians everywhere on the sets,” Sudeep explained how a proposal for a Tamil film turned into a Kannada film.
Grandeur Unveiled: The Magnificence of “Kichcha 46”
A sprawling town set erected near Mahabalipuram stands as a testament to the grandeur of “Kichcha 46.” As Sudeep steps onto the shooting sets, he reminisced about the transformational experience of returning to his acting roots. He fondly recalled the first day on the sets. “It was like ages since I had greasepaint on my face; except for Kabzaa and a couple of advertisements. I was a bit scared if I had forgotten acting in the meantime. When you see Fahadh Faasil and others on the sets you begin to worry,” Sudeep recalled the first day on the sets of “Kichcha 46″ amidst gales of laughter.
The resumption of filming has invigorated Sudeep, infusing him with renewed energy. Eager to participate, he insists on being a part of the inaugural shot each day. “I insist that I am part of the first shot taken every day. I am on the sets prepared for it every morning,” he said.
Amidst this dialogue, we playfully ventured into the realm of his suite’s pantry, which was generously stocked with an array of delectable treats. Our culinary exploration spanned a diverse spectrum, encompassing local delights such as chikki and spicy puffed rice, while also indulging some exotic imports.
To be continued…