Kannada superstar Yash made a splash across India when KGF: Chapter 1 released in 2018. The film was backed by Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani’s Excel Entertainment in the western and northern regions of India. It was around the time that Indian cinema started realising the potential of films which found favour with audiences across the length and breadth of India after the Baahubali franchise.
In this interview with Indianexpress.com, Yash talks about his upcoming film, KGF: Chapter 2, his quick and successful transition to Bollywood, and his co-stars Sanjay Dutt and Raveena Tandon. Yash also opens up about what he felt like when KGF: Chapter 1 did better than Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero; the two films released on the same day.
Excerpts from the interview.
When actors from different regions come to Bollywood, they face struggle. However, with KGF: Chapter 1, you were everywhere. What was the strategy to make your transition easier?
There was no strategy. I never wanted to get into the Hindi film industry. I never tried to fit in or come here and work. We just wanted to showcase our work to the rest of the country. Our intention was very clear, it was to entertain. The way KGF: Chapter 1 was accepted everywhere is all because of the way my director made the movie. Of course, the audience has to like you. They might have not known me, but I was confident that they’d like the film if we give them good quality work, and that’s how I became an actor as well. I had to struggle to be an actor, so how big can the struggle be to be an actor in another industry be? It is about your belief system, everything is difficult in life, but you have to take that first step and try. I don’t worry about losing much in life, so, most of the times what happens is if you are more successful in one region, people are scared to take the risk because they think that they’d lose the position they have. But when you are ready to take that risk, you’d be rewarded and people would watch you. I am somebody who’s done everything from scratch, so fear of losing something is never there. No matter what you do, you won’t reach the point where you started; there is only a way forward.
When KGF released in 2018, it clashed with Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero, and surpassed it. Did you expect your film will do so well?
I always knew that our film will do well, but it has nothing to do with the other film. When we make our movie, we don’t think about competition as it is an external challenge you have to face as an actor. When we do something, we give it our best and believe in our product. When a film releases, there are a lot of other factors like box office clashes, holidays, dates, that is beyond our control, so I never think like that.
If my movie did well, it is because my movie was good, it has nothing to do with the other film, with all due respect to them. It is just that we should have done better work, that’s where it stops for me. We never think that our film did better than them, or we are big, they’re… That’s never a competition, that is for the industry to think, not for us. Shah Rukh Khan is Shah Rukh Khan, I have been admiring his work and like him so much. For us we have done our movie, it is good and releasing on so and so date, please watch that movie, that’s where it ends.
When KGF: Chapter 2 released, we didn’t have too many south Indian films to compare it with, Baahubali perhaps was the only point of reference. Today, Aalu Arjun’s Pushpa, RRR and others have done so well. So, do you feel the pressure for KGF: Chapter 2 to do well, at par with these pan India films?
I know it is going to be better (than KGF: Chapter 1). When we came here for the first time, Baahubali was projected in a different way — it was a mythological period film with the biggest budget tag, and it was directed by Rajamouli sir. But when we came, we came with the content even though we were new. I used to say how we are like the Lagaan team; our intention was very clear, we had come to win, but we didn’t have many resources. When I saw my director’s work, I pushed it, he didn’t believe me then, he thought he had not done enough for the rest of the market, he thought we had to do better, but I was so impressed with his work that I was very confident. With a lot of difficulty I had to convince him to take KGF to India, and once we went out, we went full out.
This time, with KGF: Chapter 2, my director has made the movie for everybody. We needed the validation, and we got that with chapter 1, and had a chance to make chapter 2 even better. We have done it, now my pressure is that whatever people are expecting and whatever promise we’ve made to them in chapter 1 should be fulfilled. I am happy other films are doing good, people are very advanced as they see a film’s potential quickly. We as an industry analyse things, the audiences don’t, all they want is a good movie, even if it a Spanish film, they’re watching it. Audience is open minded.
KGF: Chapter 2 has a power-packed ensemble cast including Sanjay Dutt and Raveena Tandon. But people are looking forward to you.
No, you can’t say that. Both, Sanjay Dutt and Raveena (Tandon) ma’am have contributed in a big way. They come in as characters and Adheera, I don’t think anyone else could have pulled it off better than him. Nobody could have done what Raveena ma’am has done for Ramika Sen’s role.
Of course, I am happy that people are excited to see me, but then there is always some excitement for protagonist , nothing more than that. People are excited for their characters too, I should be carried away that people are coming to see me only in the film. As an actor, I have given it my best, given it my touch too, it has my kind of attitude and swag which I believe in, onscreen, and people are liking it. The audience comes for the film, they want to see their hero, they’ll always love you, that’s all I know.