Shivarajkumar's 125th film Vedha, is gearing up for its OTT release on Zee5 on February 10, post its theatrical run. For someone who has appeared in 125 films now, he seems to be in no hurry to hang up his acting boots. And you don’t need him to tell you that. 37 years into the industry, you just have to take a look at his upcoming films in 2023 – which also includes his Tamil debut film – to know about his acting plans.
His 2023 lineup includes films like Nee Sigovarego, KD - Karataka Damanak, Ashwathama, Jailer and Captain Miller. A quick look at his filmography lets you know that he has been constantly appearing in two or three films every year since 1996, apart from a few exceptions.
“The decision is in our hands,” he says about stars choosing to appear in lesser films. “When the mind decides that it will only be able to make a film in three years, the brain and body listen to it. Why are you choosing to only invest your time in these projects? Are you scared? If so, don’t be” the actor says. He looks at the amount of hard work and time that goes into making such films and wonders what guarantees the films’ success. He further suggests, “If you miss out on a great project because of this ideology, you will regret it. I am not blaming anyone but I try to make at least one film a year. You never know what might succeed.”
The actor is fondly known as the ‘Hatrick Hero’. This is because his first three films were back-to-back blockbusters. He has also been part of several path-breaking titles such as Om (1995), Janumada Jodi (1996), Jogi (2005) and more.
The actor believes that some films like Janumada Jodi and Kantara (2022) have something within them that creates a bigger impact. He says, “Nobody knew Janumada Jodi would become such a big hit. The film ran for more than 100 days and even crossed a year in some theatres. The songs were influential as well. Amala Akkineni once mentioned that when her son Akhil was a kid, he could sleep only by listening to the song “Kolumande Jangama”. There are things like spirituality, culture and divinity and some films just have it. We saw a similar effect happen with Kantara. We cannot recreate these films because some films just happen.”
Both Om and Jogi, set 10 years apart from each other, helped Shivarajkumar redefine the gangster genre twice in the Kannada industry. Although he likes both films, he picks Om to be his favourite. “While making Om, somewhere I knew this film was going to be special. The way Upendra filmed was amazing.” Proving his intuition right, the film attained cult status and many remakes followed. This film also put Upendra as a sought-after director and actor on the map. But Shivarajkumar wasn’t surprised by it. “About halfway through the production of Om, I was giving an interview and they said that we needed a filmmaker like Mani Ratnam for Kannada cinema. I told them that Om would be that film and Upendra would be that filmmaker. Uppi then came and asked me why I said it and said that it was too much pressure on him. But, I knew that this film could be something spectacular. And it was,” the actor reminisces with pride.
In between his massive successes and a few failures, the philosophy that drives him to make more movies till date is: “Chalo! Let’s do it.” The appreciation for his performances and the demand from fans to see him perform is what powers this philosophy. He says, “I like that there is still a demand for me. Who knows if such a demand would still exist after say, three years? As long as the demand is there, I want to keep doing films.”