2011 Interview – Mumbai Mirror
Original Link: http://www.mumbaimirror.com/article/82/2011042420110424103236803f1852a82/Sendhil-and-Sensibility-.html
Author: Namrata Bhawnani
Sendhil Ramamurthy was amused to find himself on People magazine’s 2007 List of 100 Most Beautiful People.
“It’s not something I think about too much,” he laughs. “It’s incredibly flattering and my wife loves it, she takes the piss out of me for it. It’s not like people are constantly reminding me of being sexy.”
Though the journey that helped him make it to the coveted list was tough, he recollects it with good humour. Sendhil is adamant about breaking the stereotype of how Indians are portrayed in the West.
He turned down roles of taxi drivers, spiritual gurus and IT nerds. Ironically, after waiting for the right Bollywood script for two years, he landed a role in Shor in the City as an NRI who starts an NGO in India. The actor quips, “Damn, now I have to delete the next six scripts on my iPad. Seriously, I never really thought of it like that.”
It’s almost anti-climactic to learn that half the scripts he has been offered revolve around arranged marriages.
So is he now in a place where he can afford to pick and choose? “That is not a luxury I have,” he says, “But I can pick from certain projects. I’ve been told I’m too picky.
I don’t agree. I’ve done too many things I didn’t believe in and didn’t like at the beginning of my career. Now, I get offered scripts about arranged marriages that are boring. I’m a fan of romantic comedies, but there’s a way to do films that are kind of cookie cutter.”
After his experience of shooting in the West which is structured and planned, he landed on a chaotic film set in Mumbai.
He knew there would be a difference and flew here with almost no expectations. “I wanted to see what it was like on an Indian production,” he says.
“Even the terminology was different on the sets here. It was chaotic as we shot mostly on location. In the US, if we had to shoot on the streets, we could shut the street down. I’ve enjoyed this almost-guerrilla style of filmmaking in the Mumbai crowds.”
How was it working with Ekta Kapoor, who is notorious for her temperamental outbursts? “Ekta used to beat me if I messed up a line,” he says with a straight face. “Actually, she went out of her way to make me feel at home. And we got to hang out in New York later. We had a party at her house with a bunch of B-town people. The conversations were the same as you’d hear at a Hollywood party.”
The film has no song-and-dance routines, but Sendhil says he has no qualms about grooving to item numbers. “Sure, I could dance, but those roles don’t really appeal to me. It will have to be something original.
Never say never,” he quips. Having grown up in Texas, he never learnt to speak Hindi and luckily, this film needed him to speak a sum total of 30 words in the language. But this could be a hurdle for future projects. He says, “I’ll always be the foreigner in Bollywood films. Learning Hindi is a Herculean task and I don’t see the point. I know there will be limits to my Bollywood career and I’m okay with that.”
Before his career took off with Heroes, he went to medical school. He wasn’t seduced by their glamour and switched to acting and went through a lean phase while dabbling in theatre in the UK. His wife Olga Sosnovska was working then, but she got pregnant with their first child and had to give up work. They moved from London to LA with a baby. “It was tough but I never went long periods without work,” he says. “I did a lot work that barely paid and considered going to business school. As I didn’t do a lot of TV then, I didn’t have the credits to show for it. They want to see something you’ve done, and it was difficult.”
But the change after Heroes was huge and it took a while to get used to it. He says, “I’m still not used to it. At first, it was really stressful. I’m a very private person, and I was expected to talk about my life. I hated watching those old interviews where I spoke about my personal life.” The only regret is that he hasn’t done more theatre since the first wave of success.
He also claims to remain more-or-less unaffected by the change. “I’m much more guarded now. I don’t like talking about my personal life.” But would he say he’s more secure, given the kind of ground he has broken? He replies, “Every actor is insecure about that. Dustin Hoffman says that despite the Academy award nominations, I don’t know when that’s going to change. It makes for a thrilling if nerve-wracking kind of life.”