2010 Interview – Desi Hits
Original Link: http://www.desihits.com/news/view/covert-affairs-actor-sendhil-ramamurthy-dishes-about-shor-20101112
Author: Anita Chatterjee
He has lit up the big screen with roles like Jai Wilcox on the USA Network TV show, Covert Affairs, and Mohinder Suresh on ABC’s Heroes. Now the actor has performed in his first Hindi film, Shor (Noise) and he’s enjoying his international acting career. DesiHits.com caught up with Senhill Ramamurthy to see what he is up to and get his thoughts on his career and the state of the film and television industry in the East and West.
You are an established American Television actor, how did you find yourself in a Hindi movie?
It was last year. Last summer Raj (Director) and DK (Director) flew over to LA and they set it up through my agents and they showed me the short they made for Shor for MIACC two or three years ago. And then they asked me if I could play the role and I said I will take look at the script. I first watched the short and after that 14 minute short I said yes right away. I didn’t even read the script, I was like visually I have never seen anything like this come out of India and I thought that it was fantastic!
Have you been looking to get into Hindi films?
I had been looking, scripts keep coming, after you get known scripts start coming, and I was looking for something to take me to India whether it was a U.S. production in India or an Indian production, if I can keep one foot in Bollywood and Hollywood why not. But it had to be the right thing but nothing was capturing my attention until this came along.
What was your first time shooting in India like?
If we are shooting on a street here (in the States) you have 20 cops that shut the street down, there is no shutting a street down in Mumbai, it’s wait till that rickshaw goes by and start talking, that’s what you are doing. And it was so damn noisy and I found it really annoying but, that’s what the movie is about and it wasn’t pleasant always, but it added to the performance and it was a really great experience for me. And I got to see tons of Mumbai. First I was in a wealthy area and then the slums and it was a great way to see Mumbai. And it’s definitely an experience I want to do again!
Directors in the U.S. and India have different techniques when dealing with actors and there are differences in how they run the productions between both countries. Were there any major differences in India that you had to get use to?
Raj and DK are based here in the U.S. so they came at me with a U.S. sensibility, and they knew I would understand that, which I really appreciated. But the terminology is all different, when the DP would be ready to roll and he would be like ‘order,’ I would look for a menu but that means the camera is ready to roll. The people are different, but at the end Bollywood makes more movies than anyone else in the world, so at the end they are doing something right, so I went with it.
Now that you have returned from India what are you up to?
We just wrapped the first season of Covert Affairs, it’s going really, really well. It’s the number one new show on cable television, I start shooting again in March, and now I really need a vacation and I’m going to go away for a little bit somewhere, don’t know where but I’m gonna chill out a little bit.
You have two beautiful children; do you expose them to theater or your projects?
My kids are just naturally dramatic, my daughter kinda gets what I do just ’cause there are posters up all over LA and it’s like ‘look dad’s on the side of a bus.’ My son is two and a half but they don’t get it if someone comes up to me for an autograph, it actually pisses my daughter off cause it’s like ‘no no no this is my time so you go away.’ But they have never seen anything I have done mainly because none of what I have done is appropriate for children.
Speaking of family, what was it like for your parents when you decided to pursue acting?
Listen they were worried, now as a parent I know what that’s like ’cause you worry about your children. This isn’t an easy profession, especially if you are Indian and even if you are not Indian this is not a profession that you go into that will offer you stability. But they knew it was what I wanted to do so they supported it.
What is your message for young Indians who want to pursue acting?
The message is try and do something else seriously, only do this if you have to, if there is absolutely nothing else you can do then be an actor, if you can be a doctor and you will be a good doctor please go be a doctor, be a lawyer and if you can do that and be happy, do that because this is not an easy profession. But if you are passionate about acting and this is something you absolutely have to do, do it. And get trained. I don’t want young Indians to think I am the norm, I’m not; I got really lucky. But if they are passionate about this and ready to take all the rejection and obstacles, go for it. As an Indian, if you are auditioning for a non-Indian role you have to prove yourself even more so than the other actors who auditioned. In Covert Affairs my role was not written for an Indian and I had to prove myself.
Do you have a message for our readers?
Don’t eat yellow snow! I hesitate as an actor to give out messages because there are people far wiser that you should listen to, but I guess my message is pretty much what I gave before to South Asians who want to pursue acting.