Fortunate I never had to struggle much for work: Atul Kulkarni

PTI | Mumbai | Updated: 02-08-2021 13:33 IST | Created: 02-08-2021 13:33 IST
Fortunate I never had to struggle much for work: Atul Kulkarni
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Actor Atul Kulkarni believes it's surreal that he has not only survived through the highs and lows of the industry but also never gone out of work in the last 25 years.

Kulkarni said though he has battled his phase of ''uncertainty and survival'' in the industry, he has been blessed with consistent flow of work.

The actor, who grew up in Solapur and moved to Mumbai in the mid-90s, first garnered praise as Mahatma Gandhi in the play ''Gandhi Viruddha Gandhi'', which caught the eye of actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan, who cast him in his 2000 drama ''Hey Ram''.

''I was extremely lucky because I got my first professional play within three months of landing in Mumbai. I did that in three languages. Kamal ji heard about the play and called me for 'Hey Ram'. That's how I got my first film. I actually didn't have to struggle that much to get work.

''There are phases in every actor's life, but my phases have been few and for a short period, where I did worry about the uncertainty and survival. But it never really reached an extreme stage,'' the actor told PTI in an interview.

Kulkarni established himself as a bankable performer with films such as ''Rang De Basanti'', ''Chandni Bar'' and Marathi drama ''Natarang'' among others.

Survival was a question that Kulkarni grappled with before he entered the film industry. When he graduated from the National School of Drama in 1995, Kulkarni said he was clueless how his acting journey would pan out. The film industry looked like a distant dream and TV was yet to boom.

''Survival was on my mind, not only when I came to the industry but also when I went to NSD. I had no idea what I would do after passing out from college. The only accessibility I had was Marathi professional theatre.

''I had never ever thought of films because it was absolutely inaccessible to me. TV was not much at that time, there were no daily soaps. All of us had fewer chances.'' What kept Kulkarni going was his passion for the job. The 55-year-old actor said he was drawn to acting after he participated in a one-act play in his college in Solapur. At a young age, he figured all he wanted to do was act, not as a hobby, but as a profession.

''When I started doing amateur theatre and acting, I liked what I was doing. My only motivation was to spend more time acting. I didn't want to do a job and act in my spare time. I wanted to act 24 hours. I am fortunate I was able to do this for the last 25 years.'' Over the years, Kulkarni has worked in Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada films, featuring in nearly 100 movies. His learning from the industry is that one doesn't require any ''external motivation to act.'' ''You are born with it and then try to learn the technique of the craft, which you slowly start enjoying. One doesn't need external motivation but what one does need is sustainability in the field.

''Can you sustain with pleasure?' That's important to know. It is not easy. There are very few lucky ones who get to do only what they want. Survival is extremely important. It's futile and wrong to only think about art.'' The actor is currently seen on the second season of Disney +Hostar show, ''City of Dreams''. The Nagesh Kukunoor-directed political drama series, which premiered on July 30, saw Kulkarni reprise his character of a polarising political figure Ameya Rao Gaikwad.

The actor said the team was conscious to give their best as they were riding on the tremendous success of season one.

''All the seeds were sown in the first season. Even before the first season was shot, Nagesh and the team were sure about how they wanted to approach the show, the conflict they wanted to introduce. My character, who was once a lion, is now an underdog. The show is about politics but has a deep emotional layer to it.'' Season one of ''City of Dreams'' was Kulkarni's first major OTT show in 2019. He has since featured on another hit series, ''Bandish Bandits''.

Kulkarni said his endeavour is to constantly adapt to changing storytelling landscapes and moving from one medium to another.

''There are efforts, but when you see people like Amitabh Bachchan, and if that person can adapt so much, we are nothing. The kind of eras he has seen and adapted, it would be a shame if we don't adapt,'' he added.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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