(Southscope May 2012 Issue)
Shivanna recently turned 50 and celebrated the release of his 100th film in grand style. Ask him about his longevity in the film industry, and he immediately points out to his fans. No doubt, he has had the advantage of being the son of Kannada matinee idol Dr Rajkumar. But Shivanna emerged out of his father’s shadow long ago to establish his name as one of the natural performers in the Kannada film industry and the most sought after actor since the 90s.
The star actor is known by several titles: Sandalwood King, Hat-trick Hero, Century Star…the list goes on. But Shivanna, like his father, is an epitome of humility, in his reaction, “These titles are given by my fans because of their affection and love for me; we have to respect their sentiments. As actors, we cannot flaunt these titles because we have a responsibility towards the society as people follow celebrities and film stars closely. If we don’t discharge our responsibilities properly, it will be the biggest mistake of any celebrity.”
One of the main reasons why Shivanna has such a large fan following is that they see his father in him. For, he has acted in a variety of roles, ranging from the good samaritan to a cop. His first three films between 1986 and 1987 were blockbusters on the trot, earning him the title Hat-trick Hero.
Incidentally, he is also the Kannada film industry’s first film star who is an accomplished dancer. Even at the age of 50, Shivanna can compete with any teenager on the dance floor. It is not an exaggeration that his younger brother Puneet Rajkumar (the best dancer today in Sandalwood) refuses to acknowledge that he dances better than his elder brother. “If there is any star in Kannada film industry that can be considered a dancing sensation, it has to be Shivanna. Even now, he shows amazing flexibility and is super energetic while shooting dance sequences,” says Puneet.
Shivanna is candid in his observations when his fans call him a Dancing Sensation, “If people think that I am an exceptional dancer, I owe it all to my choreographers, who keep experimenting with me. They still think that there is some novelty left in my movements and try to explore it. If it wasn’t for them, I would not have emerged as a dancer, besides being an actor.”
That Shivanna has a lot more left in him puzzles the actor, who has become selective with his projects. His 100th movie, Jogayya (sequel to the blockbuster Jogi), did not perform on expected lines at the box office. But that did not deter Shivanna from continuing to appear on the silver screen. There was a time when 13 of his films in a row performed either moderately or poorly at the BO in the last three years. But his 101st movie – Mailari – was a hit and Shivanna is back in the reckoning.
It’s no wonder that his schedule is packed for the rest of 2012. In his latest film Andar Bahar, Shivanna has undergone a radical change in his looks. The idea was to make him look younger than his age, which has given the makers of Andar Bahar an advantage. Shivanna acknowledges it, “There are two sides to my character in this movie. I discover both my inside and outside through multiple perspectives. This is an innovative concept and people will like my looks for sure.”
In addition to Andar Bahar, Shivanna has several interesting projects lined up, including a Bond style movie – a remake of his father’s blockbuster Bhakta Kumbara – a movie in which he plays the role of a doctor; a rom-com (Maduve Impossible) and another untitled movie. Two of his films – Lakshmi and Shiva – are ready for release. But Shivanna always makes sure that his films are not released simultaneously, so that the producers don’t suffer. Like his father, Shivanna values the producer fraternity a lot.
Is he tired of signing films? He answers, after some thought… “See, people are becoming innovative as days pass. I see a number of younger filmmakers with amazing scripts. Sometimes, I wonder whether I am caught in a time warp. We need to change according to the times.” Well said! And the last we heard, Shivanna has signed another movie for which shooting will commence in April 2013!