Tharun Bhascker, who was last seen in the Disney+ Hotstar series Anger Tales, began his journey in the film industry as a director. In 2016, he made the romantic comedy Pelli Choopulu which was a super hit and went on to be remade in Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil. While he continued his passion for filmmaking, Bhascker also forayed into acting with the biographical drama Mahanati (2018), essaying the character of Singeetham Srinivasa Rao. In an interview with Prema, Bhascker revealed that his acting journey has helped him become a better filmmaker.
Having entered the field without any industry experience, it took some time for Bhascker to understand the relationship between the concepts of budget, marketability and profits. “I was blissfully ignorant when I joined the industry. I didn’t even work as an assistant director to understand how things work. But in these seven years, I have learnt that the most important factor in selling a film is its marketability.”
He further explained that he had to compromise on many of his creative choices considering the budgets. “ Be it in Pelli Choopulu or Ee Nagaraniki Emaindi (2018), we wanted a lot of ambitious equipment, but we couldn’t lay our hands on it. If I need to make a creative choice that alters the budget like renting a magnum dolly for 30 days, I need somebody who can add value to the film at the distribution. Every time it is a struggle for freedom but it becomes very easy when you have marketable actors.”
Besides his natural interest towards acting, Bhascker proclaims that this marketability is also what led him to become an actor. “I really wanted to get some kind of marketability to my own face. I didn’t want to be invisible. We are very normal people but cinema exaggerates us as people who are larger than life and it has some power. When I understood that, I wanted to stay in the front.”
The director-actor also recalls an event that happened shortly after the release of Pelli Choopulu and how the moment encouraged him to act in films. “A producer told me it was a fluke that my film became a hit and asked what I was planning to do next. He bashed me saying, “But does anyone know your name? No, because you are a director. Some people know you but that gives you only 50-50 chances.” And this was after giving a success like Pelli Choopulu. So I decided that people should know my face.”
Acting and being on the sets is a very good learning experience, says Bhascker. “I love the whole acting process and it is kind of relieving. Sometimes, I play only small roles but the childlike curiosity in me excites me. If I have grown wiser as a filmmaker today, it is because of my acting journey. It gave me a certain perspective. It helped me learn how to treat the actors and how not to do certain things.”