The actor shares his idea of an on-screen cop and how the audiences have always celebrated police in cinema
Last Updated: 12.48 PM, Mar 28, 2023
The 'cop character' has attained a special status in Kannada cinema over the past many decades. Each generation has seen the superstar(s) of the time don the police uniform with great gravitas and command the screen with their own unique styles and sensibilities - from Dr Rajkumar, Vishnuvardhan, Ambareesh, Shankar Nag, etc. to Sai Kumar, Kiccha Sudeep, Shiva Rajkumar, Darshan and Malashree, each star has not only owned the cop character but also reimagined it to fit their personalities.
The latest entrant to this coveted list is Daali Dhananjaya. Having played varied kinds of roles since making his debut 10 years ago, it would seem that the 36-year-old star has now reached his first major checkpoint as a leading man. His landmark 25th film Gurudev Hoysala, which arrives in theatres on March 30, has him play a supercop who unleashes himself and puts his life on the line to fight for what's right. Dhananajaya has played a cop before already in Salaga but the status of a leading man carries a different weight and the actor in him, it would seem, was prepping for this occasion all along.
"Police are always the heroes, aren't they? Even as kids, if one were to ask you what you wished to become after growing up, at least 10 kids around you would reply saying 'police'. For young minds, cops are those people who are powerful and apprehend thieves. And for actors, I think it's the opportunity to play a socially responsible character on screen because the audience always celebrates these kinds of characters. But that doesn't mean that all policemen are noble and honest - some of them are corrupt, as well, just as in the case of any other profession in the world. But when you get the chance to be a "hero" of a film, you project your own idea of a police officer and create a character - an honest, upright but equally vulnerable one," shares Dhananjaya in an exclusive conversation with OTTplay.
And this combination of traits, he says, mostly decides the pitch and tone of both his performance and also the film. "You have a few variants of police officers and the options are there to choose from when making a film. There's the "serious, brooding" cop, there are the slightly "crack" and entertaining ones, and then there are the comical, foolhardy ones - now it's up to you to decide the "mass" level while mounting these characters. Ever since films have gone "pan-India", heroes are elevated at almost a superhero-like level but when got to our film, director Vijay N. said that we must keep things realistic and not go overboard. Luckily, the story demands something like that and we chose to keep him the common man that he is - most cops, in fact, are "common" people who have their own small issues, families to tend to, etc.," he adds.
Since he is a film buff himself, what are some of his own favourite cop characters from Kannada Cinema? "I love Shankar Nag sir's Sangliyana more than anything else. Then there's Shivanna's Inspector Vikram - a very jovial and very cool. The Kempgowda series, what Darshan sir did in films like Ayya - there are so many great cops in movies. And I remember very vividly loving Sai Kumar sir's Agni IPS in the Police Story movies - he had his own brand of dialogue delivery and I enjoyed that a lot," he says.