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Simply Atul

Atul Kulkarni portrays a Malayali in two films being shown at the International Film Festival of India.


TWO OF Atul Kulkarni's movies are being shown at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) and in both the films he plays a Malayali. "It was just coincidence," the soft-spoken actor says 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 two films at different points of time. I do not think there are any similarities between Ravi Roy in `Manasarovar' and M in `Ode to Lost Love.'

Atul, who made a power-packed impact in his debut Hindi feature as the fanatic Shriram Abhyankar in Kamal Hasan's `Hey Ram' in 1996, insists that 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.') prove that.

About the role

Talking about how the role of Ravi came to him, Atul says, "Anup saw my work and saw Ravi in me. It is a great quality in a director to be able to see the actor through the character. Usually, it is the other way around and that is what results in typecasting."

The few sentences of Malayalam that Atul says in the movie were delivered with a flawless accent.

"We were shooting in Kerala and the entire crew was Malayali. They were all talking in Malayalam and I listened carefully. I am from Belgaum, which is in Karnataka, and so maybe it was easy learning a south Indian language.

I have an inclination to learn languages."

Pursuing a love

Atul dropped out of engineering to pursue his first love - acting with a course at the National School of Drama. He made his feature film debut in the Kannada film `Bhoomigite' directed by Kesari. He has also acted in Tamil films such as `Run' and Telugu films such as `Jayammanadera,' `Gauri,' and `Chanti.' After playing Malayalis in two English films, Atul will be making his Malayalam film debut in a film "directed by Sachi." When asked about a move from mainstream films 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' (are we seeing another Martin Scorsese-Robert De Niro pairing or closer home David Dhawan-Govinda?) `Page 3.' The film is Bhandarkar's reading of the ubiquitous page 3 culture with Konkana Sen playing a journalist. His plans include work on `Rang De Basanti' directed by Rakesh Mehra - the same that made the stylish (we shall not talk of content) `Aks.' "The film is an international film - that is all I would like to say about it at present." 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 CHHIBBER

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