Happy Birthday, Yash…Stay Humble Stay Superstar

 In my long career as a  film writer I’ve had  the privilege  of being very close to some major superstars from down South. Some  are born  humble,others simply pretend to be humble.Yash is the  humblest superstar that I know. Every time we  have one of our  lengthy conversations, most  of  them off the record(more about that later) I look for signs  of  changes in the  KGF superstar.

 There are none. Firmly  grounded , with not  a jot of arrogance  about the hysteria he generates  among his fans, Yash has  not changed in the  past three years since  KGF released. Every time we speak I remind him of his humility. And his response  is  the same every time, “Sir , when you say this, I get very scared.  Because I am  not really that humble. I may come across that way to you  because you are so grounded yourself.”

Yash speaks freely and without checks  and balances.  He shares his  success with  a sense  of standing back to observe the sheer  wonder  of it. His world  revolves around his  wife and two children. Yash has  seen  heartbreak only once. When his baby-girl had her ears pierced.  He  admits he wept when he saw his  precious princess wince .

Yash’s Dad Arun Kumar  was a BMTC bus  driver a government employee.  Yash’s   real name  is Naveen Kumar. His mother’s name is Pushpa,  a housewife.

Recalling his humble(that word again!) beginnings,  “We also had a 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.”

Yash left home for  Bengaluru with practically no  money. “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.”

Yash’s family   thought  he’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 travelled a lot.  My first appearance in stage  was noticed.”

  Unlike the I-slept-on-the-pavement variety of romanticized  struggle  that many superstars  assume, Yash  doesn’t glorify his ascent to stardom. “I didn’t have  to  struggle much. Everything  went smoothly.Then I got into television  though  I didn’t want  to, but I had 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. In 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.”

Today Yash is a Pan-India superstar. Was he  surprised  by the  success of KGF?“When  my producer Vijay Kirgandur, director  Prashant Neel and I set  out  to  make this  film our aim was to  give the Kannada film industry the status and  glory it deserved.We felt the  other South Indian film  industries had marched forward. We  needed to do the same. To me, the respectability and love  KGF has  got  for  the Kannada film industry  is  all the reward that I need.KGF is not being seen  as  a regional  film.What more  could I  ask for? God  has been  kind.”

Watching this  superstar’s stardom grow without his ego following suit, is  a pleasure and a relief. Most of our  conversations are off the record because the  minute  his quotes appear under my byline the South Indian journalists get very upset because he doesn’t speak  to other journalists. He says  he doesn’t see me  as  a journalist. As long  as you don’t behave like a superstar with me  I promise  not  behave like  a journalist with  you.Happy Birthday, Yash.

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