‘Debut film is like your signature on screen’: Nataraj S Bhat

The actor, who has finished shooting for three Kannada films says, filmmaking should continue, irrespective of the platform of its release

Nataraj Bhat made a grand entry into the Kannada film industry in 2016 with Rama Rama Re. Four years on, he is still not able to shake off the image of ‘Sandal Raja’, the escaped convict he plays in the film. “It had been a challenge. I am not, however, upset that people still remember me as Sandal Raja from Rama Rama Re. That is a compliment. Sandal Raja is my debut signature on screen.Most actors are synonymous with their debut films — we have ‘Duniya’ Vijay or ‘Mungaru Male’ Ganesh….”

Nataraj is currently busy with three films — Padavi Purva, Maaricha and an untitled film. “In each of these, I have a completely different look and personality on screen. In Padavi Poorva, I play a professor. Maaricha will see me in a role with negative shades and in the untitled film, I play an intense character, who struggles to looks after his aged mother.”

The untitled film is directed by Ramesh H, who has earlier assisted AMR Ramesh in Attahaasa. “The film explores the relationship between a man and his mother. The challenges and the ups and downs he faces in this relationship forms the crux of the story.”

“Acting is all about breaking stereotypes. One has to take risks when choosing films or roles. One needs to work hard on the look and mannerisms, else you tend to become stagnant.”

Nataraj, who says he is open to any role as long as there is ample scope to perform, is all praise from Hamumakka, a theatre actor from Bellary, who plays his mother.

Nataraj is paired opposite Mahalakshmi and shares the screen with Dharmanna Khadur (also from Rama Rama Re ).

‘Debut film is like your signature on screen’: Nataraj S Bhat

Despite the lockdown, Nataraj says his only mission is to be a part of content-based films. “We need to keep making great films, and not worry if it will see a theatrical or online release. Streaming has changed the way we make films. We cannot get away with mediocrity any more. We have to excel in all that we do, for now we are competing with stories from across the world.”

Believing that nothing can compare to the experience of watching a film in a theatre”, Nataraj says, “It has a grandeur that you can not get on your television.”

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