The actor shares his excitement on being part of a comedy film for the first time in his career
Last Updated: 06.04 PM, Sep 14, 2023
Karthik Rathnam is still being referred to as ‘that’ C/O Kancharapalem actor despite having proved his mettle in varied projects like Narappa, Ardha Shatabdham, web shows - Vyavastha, Gods of Dharmapuri. However, his main aim with his next release - the crime comedy, Changure Bangaru Raja - is to shed the intense actor tag and to be known simply as an actor.
In a chat with OTTplay.com, he talks of Changure Bangaru Raja and its backdrop, doing comedy, the association with Ravi Teja and tells us why he couldn’t enjoy the privileges of working with a big banner fully.
A peek into Changure Bangaru Raja’s universe…
It’s a perfect family entertainer with a mix of mystery, action, thrills and humour, ideally timed for the festive season. There’s nothing unpleasant about it and can be watched by audiences of all age groups. The story unfolds in the backdrop of ‘rangu rallu’ (coloured stones), popular in Narsipatnam. There’s a dialogue in the film - the stones may not alter the fortunes of the customer, but it’ll definitely change the fate of its seller and ensures him instant money. The film is packed with chases among four-five gangs but it’s hilarious at the same time.
On being the face of a film and how it affects him…
I really don’t think much about the burden of being the face of a film. I carry on with my work and don’t let the tags affect me. My only dream was to do something associated with films and I am an actor today. I don’t need anything else. I was a theatre actor since childhood with modest ambitions. I was part of over 100 plays with over 2000 performances. It took my friends and family some time to believe that I’m part of a Ravi Teja production.
Adapting from theatre to films
After the theatre stint, I did a few roles in my childhood and teenage years in Bhairava, Nagaram Nidrapotunna Vela, Gang Stars, Social before C/O Kancharapalem happened. It took me a lot of time to adapt to films after theatre. I find films more difficult than theatre. Even when the same sequence is shot after a 20-day gap, you need to maintain the same emotion.
There’s a lot of technicality involved in cinema, you need to be good at talking to the camera. You’re limited to a certain space, change your voice and I’m still developing my craft. Theatre isn’t difficult if you find the right master but in films, the master changes with every project and the lessons are different every time. I want to be part of as many films as possible and evolve with every project.
How did Changure Bangaru Raja materialise?
I and Satish Varma worked together for Narappa; he was the associate director for the film. Based on my roles, he presumed I was a serious person. We shot the film for over 50 days in a village in Tamil Nadu and were restricted to a small group because none of us knew Tamil. The time gave him a chance to understand my true persona, he felt I was funny and had good comic timing and narrated Changure Bangaru Raja’s script.
In the meanwhile, he was pitching the script to several producers and suddenly lost touch. He came back to me out of the blues to inform that Ravi Teja had okayed the script. I congratulated him; he was surprised by the absence of any emotion in my voice. I had thought he would’ve opted for another hero given the scale of the banner. Both of us couldn’t believe our luck; it took us a day to digest the news.
What’s the atmosphere within the team like?
Ravi Teja had watched the entire film a few days. He liked Satya-Nityasri’s track a lot and had compared it to yesteryear filmmaker Vamsee’s films on purpose - the characters in the film are simple, have grey shades and are relatable. He said I have an unusual comic timing that worked in my favour.
Digging deeper into the film’s backdrop…
I play an arrogant mechanic in a village, he’s money-minded and works only if money lands on his hand, even if it’s a cop. I play an orphan who’s a toughie, he doesn’t open up too much and there are few incidents to justify why money becomes a crucial link to his life. Ravi Babu has a love story and has a strange condition of losing his memory whenever he hears a new sound.
Satya plays a guy who rears a buffalo after failing his exams. Goldie is a corrupt constable; Raj Tirandasu is envious of Bangaru Raju. There’s Veera Bobbili as well, a German Shepherd that affects their lives. It’s an eccentric yet entertaining bunch that gets entangled in a crime. The comedy, Satya-Nityasri’s track, the situational fights and music are the major highlights of the film.
Understanding comedy from co-artistes…
Ravi Babu has a unique style of comedy and I found it quite challenging to match his timing. I practiced in front of the mirror everyday to get my act right. With Satya, I understood how to improvise a small dialogue, add flavour to it and have a dominating screen presence. I have constantly been called an intense actor - I just want to be known as an actor in my future.
The ambience on the set while shooting for a comedy…
The atmosphere on set was so easy-going and light-hearted. I am generally used to 20-page dialogue sheets where I had to turn my head at a particular angle, don a serious expression and do an intense voice modulation. I just had to be myself on Changure Bangaru Raja sets. People say doing comedy is difficult but good writing can make your job easy. The director’s strength is his writing and impromptu improvisation.
On enjoying the privileges of working with a big banner..
I don’t see much difference between small and big banners. I remember requesting people a room in their houses to change my dress during C/O Kancharapalem’s shoot. During Changure Bangaru Raja, I had a caravan but it wasn’t much of a privilege. I had to report to sets at 5.30 am everyday, get dressed and be ready with my makeup. I was constantly roaming around the director to know if there were any changes in the dialogues. I never had the time to enjoy a caravan’s luxury.
What’s in store next?
I have Sri Ranga Neethulu ready for release. There’s a Prakash Raj-AL Vijay’s joint production - it’s a bilingual and I am part of the Telugu version. A biggie is in the works too; you’ll know more about it soon.