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Imposing artiste

After `Gardish' and `Safarosh,' Mukesh Rishi has a promising innings in the South

Photo: Satish. H

AT ANNAPURNA Studio, the filming of Suryam is in progress. Mukesh Rishi plays the heroine's (Celina Jaitley) father. "A bad father," he adds. This is his eleventh Telugu film after Gandivan in 1994, "after which I acted in Manoharam and again there was a gap. Then came E. Gopal's Balakrishna starrer Narsimha Naidu," he recollects. And now more hits, Indra, Simhadri and Neevu Neenu, where he gets to flex his muscles against biggies Chiranjeevi and Nagarjuna, and Okkadu his first positive role.

Soft role

"People liked me in Okkadu, in a soft role after a string of ferocious roles," says Rishi. The film is close to his heart. "I was the vice captain of my college cricket team, a karate pro and a body builder. That's helping me now, when I have to run, do a fight sequence or give a shot in a gym as I know all about the multi stations," he says.

Currently working on films with Balakrishna, Dr Rajasekhar, including the Krishna-Renuka Menon starrer Vallidaru Okkate, "South has offered a lot, if you see my career graph. Maybe I am destined to act here. I am doing two Tamil films with Vijay Kanth and four Malayalam films, including one with Mohan Lal," he says.

The beginning

Equipped with a modelling course and ramp experience from New Zealand, he returned to Mumbai in 1993, when he was offered The Sword of Tipu Sultan. The serial provided him a first hand experience of shooting. Gardish followed. "The main requirement was that he had to look huge and well built," and he fitted the bill. Since then, there was no looking back.

From the flautist-villain in Judwa, a softer cameo in Run to a stronger Inspector Salim in Sarfarosh he has played versatile roles.

`Sarfarosh' saga

"When I reached Sarfarosh, I had already finished 35 Hindi films. It came at the right time. I was looking for a change. It is an honest film and has done a lot of good to my career. We had havaldars on the set, to tell us how to stand up when officers come and other subtle nuances to make the character look real. In the current Hindi films, I liked doing Garv, enjoyed it as much as I did doing Gardish. Then there is Rajeev Rai's Asambhav and Nehle pe Dehla. The latter is a comedy by Ajay Chandhok starring Sanjay Dutt and Saif and has a David Dhawan flavour," he says.

"I am glad I am in a position to select. I do justice to my character. You have to be good, even as a villain. My son used to get concerned and often asked me why I was doing bad roles. I used to tell him that I play the bad guy like his school bully, and it was a tough task to enact."

"Society is the same everywhere and so is the bad man. His deeds, dialogues are the same— maar do, kaat do, uthake la do. Sometimes the script allows you to experiment with the character, say you play a goon in a Haryanvi setting that adds to the diversity. Cultural background is different so is the look. In Telugu films the villain has a moustache," says the observant artist.

It's different

"People ask me the difference between Bollywood and Telugu film industry. But honestly, I feel Telugu film is more professional. Here even the top actors come on time, that's a wonderful thing. I am becoming familiar with Telugu. One day I would like to dub for my films, I think I have a good voice," says Rishi.

On living in Hyderabad, "I never found Hyderabad different, it was like coming a little away from Mumbai," he says. Keep watching this space as we bring you updates on his forthcoming flicks.

SYEDA FARIDA

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