Kannada Superstar Yash Chats Up With Subhash K Jha About The Not-So-Surprising Success Of KFG

 Easily The  Star  Of  Year. He chats up with Subhash K Jha about the  not-so-surprising success of KFG  ,his humble beginnings  and  his hopeful  future.

Yash, tell me  about  your beginnings?

My Dad Arun Kumar  was a BMTC bus  driver a government employee.  My real name  is Naveen Kumar. My mother’s name is Pushpa,  a housewife. We also had  provision store. I used to take care of it buy all  the vegetables, etc. We  faced  a lot of difficulties.  Initially  my parents  were  not  happy with my decision to become  an actor. My dad wanted me to be  a government   officer. I  wanted to be an actor  from my childhood when I would participate in  a lot of dramas and  dance competition.  I got addicted  to the applause and the whistles  from when I was very young. I loved it! Even my teachers called me   ‘Hero’ I believed  I  was a hero. I thought I’d be  a superstar  the  minute I got here(in Bengaluru). I lived in my own dream world.  Even now  I feel  I am living in  adream.

You  left your  home to  come to  Bengaluru?

I  ran  off from my home. When I came  to  Bangalore I  was scared  the minute I reached . Such a  big intimidating city.But I  was  always  a confident  guy. I  wasn’t  scared to struggle. I had just 300 rupees in my pocket when I reached Bangalore. I knew if I went back my parents would  never allow me to  come back .My parents  gave me an  ultimatum. I was free to try my luck as an actor but after that if it didn’t work out I had  to do  what  they asked me to.

And  you took up the  challenge?

They  thought  I’d come  back. I  began  doing theatre.Someone luckily took me to do theatre . I knew  nothing about it.I began making money backstage. Chai se lekar poora sab kuch….. Initially I  also assisted  a director to  enter  the  Kannada  film industry. While  I did a theatre travalled a lot.  My first appearance in stage  was noticed.

Was  it  a long period  of struggle?

No big struggle. Everything  went smoothly.Then I got into television(though  I didn’t want) to start earning money. I  shifted my parents to Bangalore.  Since then we all live  together.My debut film Mogina Mannasu got me   a Filmfare award. There were four heroes and  four heroines and still I was noticed. I fact  my future  wife Radhika was  one  of  the heroines in that  film. We started our careers together on television. Then  we made our film debut at the same time. We were not seeing each other at that  time.We were  only friends.

When  did you decide  to  marry one  another?

We dated for about five years . I knew she  was  the one for me.We have practically  grown up together.We  were recently blessed with a baby girl. My baby  is being made into news on many newchannels.We find it hard to keep her out of  the limelight.

Yash, did  you expect KFG to  become  such a nationwide hit?

I can’t say  I  am surprised. Not really. When we were  planning the project we  knew it had a universal appeal and that  it would  connect with  people everywhere. The entire team  worked  really hard and I am so glad that  it has worked.But I am not  allowing myself to get excited. I’d rather  plan ahead  than celebrate. I  want to go beyond people’s expectations. To know that that  they are clapping and cheering in Mumbai and Patna makes me believe there is magic   in this  world.

The downtrodden  hero  revolts against  injustice is  a theme that  never  fails?

(Laughs) I have  to agree. It is  a feeling inside all of us. We  need to be treated  with dignity.And a film like  KFG gives the audience  the sense  of dignity that we all crave  for.

The scale and budget  of  KFG  replicates  Baahubali…would  you agree?

No, KFG is  not a byproduct  of  the Baahubali success. We wanted to do something big, something that would prove the Kannada film industry to be  on a par with cinema  in  the rest  of the  country. I never  liked it when people discriminated  against the Kannada film industry , as compared with the other South Indian industries.As  a prominent and proud member of the Kannada film industry I  wanted to change the perception that we were a small industry.

And  you have done that?

No industry is small. It is the  people who work in it that make  it big or small. We  of the KGF team  thought big, and why should we not have ? I always knew  a KGF was  possible. We wanted to prove that we had the potential  and resources. We had  a terrific story idea, and  I was lucky to get a fantastic  director Prashanth Neel and a producer Vijay Kirangadur  who is like my brother.The entire has worked really hard to make   KGF special. I  can’t alone take    the  credit.

Baahubali  did  to  the Telugu film industry what KFG has done to the Kannada  film industry?

We are definitely inspired by  the passion  of  Rajamouli  Sir.  He  saw our  rushes and showered generous praise on me and my film. I am thankful. He has inspired us for sure. He broke all linguistic  barriers.After  Baahubali people  started taking regional cinema  seriously.Yes, in the sense that we did look at  their format  eventually. Initially we had  no plans  of dubbing KFG into non-Kannada languages. We wanted to put out  only the Kannada version with English subtitles.   But then we saw Baahubali dubbing and  getting a wider audience.So we  decided  to dub in  several languages.

Subtitles  would have better. Dubbing takes away from  the flavour  of the original?

 But we  we very careful  with the dubbing.We spent a lot of time making sure  it doesn’t  look like  a dubbed  film.And  the result  is  for all to see. Audiences are not treating KFG as  they treat  my  other dubbed films . We  worked on each and every line  to ensure the  dubbing   was  flawless. We altered certain phrases and  dialogues  according to the culture  We had a writer each in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu to  supervise the translation.

Your   film has done  better business nationwide than Shah Rukh Khan’s Zero?

I firmly believe  it’s  the  content that works. See , I have an  audience in Karnataka who will flock to see  my releases . And yet I feel like  a new  actor every Friday.Becuase I know  initially ,every release is Yash’s  film. After the weekend it becomes the audiences’ film.  And when people  embrace a film they own it and begin to promote the film like their own.  I know  people are  calling and messaging to tell their friends  to  see KGF . I am very happy that in spite of being pitched against  such a  big film if  we are doing well then  we must have  done something right.

You are   known as the  Rocking Star  in  Karnataka?

(Shyly) Yes  they  call me that. They have other names  for me  too. See, here in  the South they  give such epithets  to  all the stars.We  have  a lot of fans association which coin  these  names  and then these  names   go to the media. Producers also begin using these  epithets  for the stars. It’s  the love of the fans. I respect it. They  also call me antamaa which means  ‘Bro’. It’s a term from my native village Mandya in Mysore. They also call me  ‘Rajahouli’, which ike ‘Sheron Ka Raja’(laughs modestly).Just like they call Shah Rukh ‘Badshah’ and ‘King Khan’

Does  this fan love put a lot of responsibility on you?

I am a responsible  person by nature.  But fan-love humbles me.

The South film industry  is notorious  for nepotism. How  did a humble boy from Mysore make it ?

No I don’t think it is right to say only star  children make it. It all depends    on your own  determination. There are self-made success  stories  all over the world and in every walk of life. And even star  children come with their own problems like fans’s over-expectation. So I can’t say it’s easy for them. To sustain your success you have to  work really hard. And I believe one thing: it doesn’t matter where  you come from or  whose son you are as long as   you can  entertain the audience. If you have a connect with the masses  they will accept you. Otherwise  nothing you do can help you    become a  success.It is what you bring to  the screen that matters.

What  makes you so popular  with the masses?

I really don’t know. I know the audiences’ pulse. But I cannot define the  reason.Probably they acknowledge my hard work. My life story, my journey from  a village  inspires them.A lot of  people come and tell  me, ‘Being a  driver’s son  you’ve come such a  long way. You inspire me’. But  I’ve to  admit the audiences love me. Every time I  come with a film they embrace  it. ‘Dus rupaiye ka kaam aur hazaaron rupaiye ka inaam’.  There are other  actors who do better than work me. I am the   blessed one.

How do you  cope with  your stardom?

It’s not like it happened overnight. Success  came to me slowly. Gradually people  started  noticing  me. Initially I had a tough time getting producers. Gradually people were convinced of my good work.I have seen failure.I have seen  a lot of hardship even as a child. So I don’t take  success  too seriously.I know it won’t last forever. I  know  how  people treat  you when your are not my successful.

When  is  KGF 2 coming out?

We  have the script ready and with the success and response we had to the  first part  we  will make  the second part even bigger.I am not taking the success of Part 2 for granted. We  have to analyze each every  component.

Are  you planning  to turn producer?

I am like the producer on the set. I make  sure  no money is  wasted.  Producers are very happy with me. One  producer  has done five films with me and is ready to do another. Producers don’t  want to leave me(laughs). I am happy about  KGF. But I don’t want  to celebrate. I don’t want  to think about the success. That’s  a waste of time.I want  to thank my  producer VijatKirgandul and director Prashanth Neel. They are the visionaries  who believed in  my dream.

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