Suniel Shetty Exclusive Interview: “Pailwaan Is Like My First Film Again”

Mohnish Singh |Aug 30, 2019

Suniel Shetty is one of the best action stars we have seen in Bollywood. He has delivered a series of hits in his career and holds a special place in the hearts of his fans.

Suniel Shetty is one of the best action stars we have seen in Bollywood. He has delivered a series of hits in his prolific career that sprawls decades and holds a special place in the hearts of his fans even today.

After staying away from the limelight for almost four years, Suniel Shetty is making a comeback to acting with a full-fledged role.

The actor is debuting in Kannada cinema with the upcoming film Pailwaan wherein he plays the character of Sarkar who mentors wrestler Pailwan Singh, played by Kannada superstar Kichcha Sudeep.

Suniel Shetty
Image source: Times Of India

As Suniel Shetty gears himself up for the release of Pailwan, our correspondent Mohnish Singh gets chatty with the superstar. In this candid conversation with STARBIZ, Suniel Shetty talks about a whole lot of things from his long sabbatical to his role in Pailwaan and from his relationship with his late father to his son Ahan Shetty’s debut. Excerpts...

You made your Hindi film debut with Balwaan (1992) and now you are debuting in Kannada cinema with Pailwaan.

After Balwaan, I am doing Pailwaan. We have just changed the last few letters (laughs).

Was it easy to work on a Kannada film considering the fact that you have your roots in that region?

My mother tongue is Tulu, which is very different from Kannada. The Kannada language has a script whereas my mother tongue has no script. Initially, I thought I would manage somehow, but when we started shooting, I found it quite challenging. But I still managed somehow.

What kept you away from films for such a long period of time?

I am doing a film after a gap of four years. There has been a sabbatical. Why did I take this sabbatical even I do not know. Maybe because of the poor health of my father; he was paralysed. I would not feel good about his health while I was actively working, hence I took a break. But it turned out to be a long break. I am glad that I am back.

Suniel Shetty
Image source: Instagram

Did you miss being on sets?

No, I never did. But yes, I always knew that I would act again. When you stay away from acting for a long period of time, you do think if you still know how to act. But I never missed acting because I was so involved with my father and so many other things.

I took a break because I wanted to spend time with my father. On some sets, what used to happen was that they would end the 6 PM shift at 8 PM and by the time I would reach home, my father would sleep. That was irritating for me. I did not plan this sabbatical, but it just happened.

Have you dubbed for your character Pailwaan in your own voice?

No, I am just dubbing for the Hindi version of the film. I am not dubbing for the Kannada version because I did not want to go wrong with my diction. People assume that since I am from Karnataka, I can do everything. There is nothing like that. People here do not have much knowledge about the South.

They feel that if somebody is from the South, they know Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, every language. There is nothing like that. They all are very different languages. So it was tough for me to do Pailwaan. I have just dubbed in Hindi. Kannada version is being taken care of by somebody else because maintaining that diction and the quality of the diction was tough for me.

Would you like to share more about your relationship with your father?

My father was actually my hero. He was just 9-year-old when he came to Mumbai. He worked in a restaurant as a cleaner and then went on to own the same restaurant. For me, nobody was greater than him. I shared a very warm relationship with him.

And what do you have to say about your relationship with your children?

Yes, with my children, I share a friendly relationship. I am like their friend with Athiya and Ahan.

Your son Ahan is set to make his debut soon. What advice did you give to him?

I talk to them more about failure because success is something that I know they can handle. What matters is whether they will be able to handle failure properly. I am worried about this film as well. But at the same time, I also know that there is a safety net because Kichcha (Sudeep) is there. He is the star of his area, so the film will do business there. So, somewhere down the line, I am also piggy riding him.

When you return to the business after a gap of four years, you will have to keep in mind that the audience has changed over the years. The generation has changed. I am blessed that the media has not forgotten me. They kept talking about me every now and then. Otherwise, four years is a time where one can be wiped out completely. So that fear is still in me. I hope Pailwaan releases well. I hope it does good business. This is like my first film again.

Suniel Shetty
Image source: Instagram

How did you deal with failure in your career?

My first film was a very successful film, but some people wrote that I was wooden. One of the top critics had written me off completely. He had written I was wooden and that I should go back to my restaurant. Unfortunately, he has gone back to doing nothing. It’s Karma. It comes back to hit you at the right time.

He was definitely wrong. But at the same time, there was a lot that I realized when people criticised me. I realized why they had done that. I realized that I had never trained as an actor, so how do I know acting. That is when I went ahead and learnt stunts so that I could do more films. With success came my process of learning. I learnt acting along the way. I still believe that I am learning; I am training; I am working towards it. That’s the beauty of it.

You have spent close to three decades in the industry but we still see in you the insecurity of a newcomer.

Yes, absolutely, because the industry has evolved. You have young kids coming as professionals who are doing so well. They know their craft like it is nobody’s business. So you want to know if you are hamming. There is a very thin line between hamming and acting. In my heydays, I never used to go a see the monitor after giving the shot, but this time around, I did see the monitor to check if I was not overacting.

You have done a lot of multi-starrers in your career, but the trend has now disappeared somewhere. Why, according to you, two big stars are not ready to share the screen space today?

I think it has to do with the cost. If you see Pailwan, the cost has gone into the making of the film, not on its stars. When two stars work together in a movie, the cost shoots up and recovery becomes an issue. In Bollywood, we are still stuck between ₹ 150 crore to ₹ 200 crore collections, while the South Indian Industry has seen their films raking in ₹ 500-600 crores. It is simply because they are more focused on content. They understand emotions. Their audience watches one film ten times in theatres. On the other hand, Bollywood films focus more on song and dance routines and costumes.

Produced by Swapna Krishna under the banner RRR Motion Pictures and bankrolled by Zee Studios, Pailwaan is slated to release on 12th September.


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