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Intense performer

"The role matters, not the medium or language," says Atul Kulkarni, whose two films are being shown at the IFFI


TWO OF Atul Kulkarni's movies are being shown at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) and in both he plays a Malayalee. "It was just a coincidence," says the soft-spoken actor with a laugh. "The two directors, Anup Kurian ("Manasarovar") and Madhu Ambat ("1:1.6 An Ode to Lost Love") do not know each other. I made the films at different points of time. I do not think there is any similarity between Ravi Roy in "Manasarovar" and M in "Ode to Lost Love."

National awards

Atul, who made an impact as the fanatic Shriram Abhyankar in Kamal Hassan's "Hey! Ram" in 1996, insists he chooses "from the roles offered to me. This is the only job I can do." And he does his job exceedingly well. The two National Awards — for "Hey! Ram" and for his portrayal of the underworld boss Potya Sawant in Madhur Bhandarkar's "Chandini Bar" — vouch for it. About the role of Ravi Roy, Atul says, "Anup, who had seen my work, saw Ravi in me. It is a great quality in a director to be able to see the character through the actor. Usually it is the other way around and that is what results in typecasting."

The few sentences of Malayalam that Atul speaks in the movie were delivered with a flawless accent. "We were shooting in Kerala and the entire crew was Malayalee. They were all talking in Malayalam and I listened carefully. I am from Belgaum, Karnataka, and so maybe it was easy to pick up a South Indian language."

Atul dropped out of engineering to pursue his first love — acting — with a course at the National School of Drama. He made his debut in the Kannada film, "Bhoomigite" directed by Kesari. He has also acted in Tamil ("Run") and Telugu films ("Jayammanadera," "Gauri," and "Chanti.")

After playing a Malayalee in two English films, Atul will be making his Malayalam debut in a film directed by Sachi. When asked about the move from mainstream to the `hatke' films, Atul insists, "I have not moved anywhere. I do whatever I am offered. The role should be good. The medium or language does not matter."

Atul will be seen in his third Madhur Bhandarkar film after "Chandini Bar" and "Satta", "Page 3". The film is Bhandarkar's reading of the ubiquitous Page 3 culture with Konkana Sen playing a journalist. Future plans include "Rang De Basanti" directed by Rakesh Mehra, who made "Aks.""It is an international film — that is all I can say about it now." And that is enough as far as Atul is concerned. A man who sure lets his acting talk much louder than his words.

MINI ANTHIKAD-CHIBBER

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