Dialogue King Sai Kumar has completed five decades as an actor. On July 8, 'Gandhwara', in which he has got a crucial role, hits the cinemas.
In this interview, Sai Kumar talks about his role in the movie, his filmography, his upcoming projects, and his political plans.
It has been 25 years since 'Police Story' was released. After that movie, I was stuck in an image trap for long. In a matter of 7 years, I did more than 54 movies in Kannada. They didn't feature a heroine! Those movies used to be full of action and punchlines. They were low-budget movies that used to be shot in 30-35 days.
In recent years, I have got to play a number of versatile roles, including the recent 'SR Kalyanamandapam' in Telugu. I am doing 15 movies at the moment. I am playing a psychiatrist in a Kannada movie. I am part of one of Dhanush's movies in which I am playing a humorous negative role. In Nani's 'Dasara', you are going to see me in an unanticipated get-up.
'Gandharwa' is a novel story where my role is unique. A youngster is playing my father. It has a time-travel element at its core. These days, you can't afford to overlook logic. You can take cinematic liberties but you have to tell a coherent story. 'Gandharwa' is high on emotions, enigma and thrills. The interval bang has come out really well!
Sandeep Madhav is a talented actor. I am getting to act with a lot of young actors like Kiran Abbavaram. It is a learning experience. I have to be in sync with their acting meter. The director is a former army man.
I like to associate myself with new minds. In Kannada, our movie 'Rangi Taranga' (2015) is a hugely acclaimed movie. Thriller Manju wants to revive the genre of 'Police Story'. The stupendous success of 'Vikram' has given us renewed hope! If something touches the audience's hearts, any genre will work.
In my long career, I have played overplayed, underplayed and done all sorts of roles. I am hungry for a variety of roles event after all these decades. When I watch impressive content and characters, I feel hungry to don them. I have been inspired by everyone from the legendary NT Rama Rao garu. During the making of 'Major Chandrakanth', when he was 70, he did a risky shot without a body double. We were amazed by his thirst for work at that age.
I am playing Suyodhana in an upcoming movie. The protagonist is a stage artist who loves to play Suyodhana. He continues to exist in that character even after the play is over. I feel it's a divine blessing that I got to play the mythological character in the 50th year of my acting career. It's a coincidence that I started out by playing Duryodhana at the beginning of my career.
I am likely to do a lead role in a web series. I hope it becomes a classic. Our web series 'Galivaana' (streaming on Zee5) has been acclaimed. I am doing a film in Tamil with actor Harish Kalyan. The story is about a diesel mafia and I am playing a mafia leader who dons three different get-ups.
I feel responsible that I should introduce the new generation to a wide array of mythological characters. In North India, our movies are widely popular. Recently, I was in Kashmir when someone identified me by the name of my character in 'Naa Peru Surya'!
My son Aadi Saikumar has been trying his best to deliver hits. 'Prema Kavali' and 'Lovely' did very well. I have always been a producer's actor. I never insist on locations, etc. Aadi, too, is like that. He may not be a big hero, but his movies are popular on OTT and TV. A theatrical hit is a bonus. Aadi needs to score a theatrical hit for his career to regain momentum. He is a better dancer and fighter than me. All that he needs is a hit! I had my share of struggles. Aadi is struggling. He needs a game-changer like 'Police Story'!
As long as producers are happy, offers will keep coming his way. Seniors like me, Suman, Srikanth, (Late) Srihari are mindful of keeping the producer's finances in mind.
On political journey so far:
I have been in politics since 2004 in Karnataka. I stay away from personal attacks. When I once attacked Sonia Gandhi personally, Venkaiah Naidu garu admonished me. He asked me to mind my words and to criticize opponents ideologically and not personally.
In the early days of my political career, I attended a political rally presided over by our leader Ananth Kumar (Late BJP leader and Union Minister). The crowds started sloganeering and raised 'Police Story' slogans. Our leader got irked because it was not looking serious! When my turn came to speak, I was blank. I didn't know what to speak but I managed to paraphrase my 'Police Story' punchline. I said that the 'kanipinchani nalugo simham' is none other than Ananth Kumar. The whole ground erupted in cheers! Our leader was thoroughly impressed.
I had to win in 2008 but lost it by a whisker. In 2014, I campaigned for Modi garu. I lost in 2018 because I had lost touch with my constituents in Bagepalli. Assembly elections need continued focus by the candidate. They are not like Lok Sabha elections.
To this day, I am sought after for campaigning all over India if I have to address Telugu, Kannada and/or Tamil-speaking population(s). I am not limited to Karnataka BJP. I am very much in the race there. It is up to the party whether they give me the ticket for the next Assembly elections. If not, I would like to take up a nominated post. I am not a full-fledged politician. The recognition I have is as an actor. The next election is crucial for me.
I have had a long journey in films. If I become busy as a legislator, I will play select roles in films. A lot of actors lose elections after winning once because they distance themselves from voters.