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Actor first, hero next

Actor-director-producer Arjun shuns the rat race for meaningful cinema

Photo: R. Raghu

ARJUN IS not a conventional handsome hero. Behind his visage lies the soul of a thinking man. A talented actor, he knows his craft, and is very serious about his work. He may be an instinctive actor but he also has a thorough technique. In real life, he's a normal guy but with one big difference - star quality. When he walks in, heads turn. His generosity of spirit is amazing. Everyone who enters his orbit is treated with attentive, low-key courtesy.

We corner this actor, director and producer, who is currently in Hyderabad shooting for a Tamil film. Born into a family of film personalities, this actor struggled like other aspiring artiste, dabbling in many Telugu, Kannada films before making it big in Chennai. He says, "Even today, I am struggling to survive as an actor. It's a fact that I have been here for a long time. I started my career here in Ma palle lo gopaludu in 1984 and I'm still updating myself. Directing films is so creative and satisfying. I'm very content the way things are shaping up and am looking forward to accomplishing the many goals I set for myself."

Modest as he is, Arjun wonders if he really deserves "this hype", saying that he is merely an actor doing his job. "I do feel nice about this adulation. But there are so many others who are far better looking and talented." Stating that he "does his bit as an entertainer" Arjun asserts that apart from the commercial stuff, his films have a patriotic element in them. "I strongly feel for my country and what I have on my mind shows on screen. Flops and hits don't affect me. What matters is whether I have done my job properly and sincerely for the day."

He adds, "I am glad to see talent coming in everyday. There is no fun running the race alone."

Histrionics isn't the only thing this hero is good at. He reveals an interesting facet of his personality. "I love music and have even taught myself to play the keyboard. I know some notes and I can compose tunes but I don't think I can compose for the big screen. I always ensure there is some good music in my movies, which is why I sit with music directors during recording sessions."

On home venture

He sounds quite charged about his home production. "I am starting my bilingual production in March and it will go on floors from April. I'll be directing, writing and producing the film. My close friend Jagapathi Babu will also be in this film." Arjun refutes allegations that he is partial to Tamil films. "Right now, I am working on making meaningful cinema. It is true that the Hindi film that I am working on is taking time. But then some things are not in our hands."

This unassuming actor has never felt the need to make headlines for reasons other than his superlative performances. A lavish lifestyle, flashy cars, being `in', seen in party zones, hobnobbing with the filmi crowd or being part of Page Three - none of these excites the intense artiste one bit. Rather, a quiet evening with his wife and two daughters, his keyboard, browsing on the net, or simply spending the day in solitude, is what Arjun craves for. "I've always been content with what I've had and never craved for material wealth of any kind. That's why I've never felt overtly frustrated. My talent and my discipline are my assets.

The few times I had to struggle initially, God had more than supported me. So there are no complaints from life whatsoever." Far from aiming to win a rat race, Arjun is secure in his abundant talent. His down-to-earth personality coupled with his creative brilliance makes him a winner all the way. And, like a true winner, he never quits.

Y. SUNITA CHOWDHARY

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