EXCLUSIVE Sendhil Ramamurthy Interview!
For years, we have seen and followed Sendhil’s career in television and film but “Brahmin Bulls” is his first foray into producing and is his debut in a starring role. We have been lucky enough to land the very first interview with Sendhil on the eve of the film’s premiere at the San Diego Film Festival.
sr.net: You’ve worked with Mahesh Pailoor before. What draws you to his work?
Sendhil: I really responded to the way Mahesh directs actors. A lot of directors, especially in television, talk too much. They feel like they need to say something to the actor after every take and sometimes even during the take. Mahesh hires you for a reason. He knows what your take is on the role and agrees with it. He gently shapes your performance without being intrusive which is rare in such a young director. Add to that the fact that he has grown in confidence as he has worked more which means he is sure of his point of view as a director. If there is one thing that drives actors crazy about directors, it is that they don’t have a point of view on what they are directing. I have worked with a lot of directors that have you do a scene 2 or 3 different ways so they can “figure it out in the edit”. You aren’t directing if you don’t know what you want at the outset.
sr.net: Did producing Brahmin Bulls change your view of the acting process?
Sendhil: My producing duties on Brahmin Bulls were limited during production of the film because I wanted to focus on performance. I really was more involved in a producing capacity during post-production.
sr.net: How is the role of Sid Sharma different than the other roles that you’ve played?
Sendhil: Sid is the most fully formed of all the roles I have played. I had input in to the writing of the character as I came on to the project at its inception. I knew the beginning, middle, and end of the journey of the character for a long time before we started shooting which is such a luxury, especially when one has worked primarily in television. I really liked that the character was flawed but in a way that suited the character. I have done projects, mostly on tv, where the characters actions have been dictated by a pre-conceived notion of where the over all story is supposed to go and the characters actions are shoe-horned in to achieve that end goal whether the characters actions make sense or not. Even when Sid was doing something I wasn’t sure of (i.e. morally), I knew that there was a reason and that hasn’t always been the case in other projects I have done.
sr.net: This project has been a labor of love for you. Has this sparked an interest in producing again?
Sendhil: Absolutely. I am working on something right now and am talking to Mahesh about doing another project as well.
sr.net: Can you talk about a pivotal scene in the movie?
Sendhil: Without giving too much away, there is a scene between me & Roshan that takes place in the kitchen of my characters house that is my favorite scene in the film. We rehearsed the movements of the scene a few days before and Mahesh and Ben (the DP) were really great about letting Roshan & I explore the scene without worrying about camera angles etc and then worked around us. I think it turned out well.
sr.net: Can you talk about working with Roshan Seth?
Sendhil: Working with Roshan was fantastic. He is such a generous actor and he asks questions that not only illuminate his character but your character as well which is very rare in the solipsistic world of actors. When you are working with someone that has the wealth of experience Roshan has it can be intimidating and he never made me feel like anything less than his equal. Also, when working within the constraints of low-budget independent film, things can get hectic very fast and spiral out of control and Roshan was a real calming force on set for me in particular as was Mary Steenburgen.
Thanks to Sendhil and director Mahesh Pailoor for granting us the first interviews for the film. Check out “Brahmin Bulls this weekend at the San Diego Film Festival and later this month at the Mumbai Film Festival.