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Mangaluru: Exclusive - Living legend Anant Nag speaks on journey in films, politics & more

Pics: Dayanand Kukkaje
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru (ANK)

Mangaluru, Jul 27: Anant Nag, the living legend, is considered to be one of the all time greatest actors in the Kannada film industry with a vast number of commercially successful movies. Besides Kannada, the well-known actor has also acted in Marathi, Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu movies. He is a recipient of six Filmfare awards south and five Karnataka state film awards for best actor. He will next be seen in Kannada movie 'March 22' produced by Harish Sherigar and Sharmila Sherigar.

The versatile actor's natural acting made him one of the most successful actors in Kannada cinema. Anant Nag spoke in an exclusive interview to editor-in-chief Walter Nandalike on Daijiworld 24x7 channel’s programme 'Public Face'.


Q: How did you get into the film industry and who was your inspiration?

A: My mother Anandhi hails from Puttur near Bantwal and my father hails from Shirali in Uttar Kannada. I was born and brought up in Udupi and Mangaluru. I studied for two years at Ajjarakad convent in Udupi and also at Shirali Honnavar. I completed my class 10 in this state after which I had to shift to Mumbai.

There was transformation from Kannada to English and it was a cultural shock for me. I was not very interested in studies after that. During my 11th std, I got an offer to perform in a drama in Konkani which was my mother tongue. Later, I went on to act in many dramas in Kannada, Hindi and Marathi.

Q: We have grown up watching your movies like 'Mudidida Tavare Aralithu', 'Ibbani Karagithu', 'Na Ninna Bidalaare' and many more. We are inspired by you. You have lacs, crores of followers. In a career spanning four decades, you have acted in many languages. There is a rumour that you will be seen in Tulu movie titled 'Golmal'. Is it true?

A: Yes, I have received an offer from the makers of the film. I wanted a significant role. I have informed the makers that it should not be only an appearance. The character should be good and I should be happy with it. I should not disappoint the Tulu audience.

Q: Have you received any offer from the Konkani film industry? Do you wish to work in Konkani films?

A: Yes, I wish to work in Konkani films. Only in Karnataka, we have a special recognition for Tulu, Kodava and Konkani languages. The state government has established academies for these languages which is good for the state. We do not have such things in other states. If I get an opportunity to act in the films of these three languages, it will be really good. My only request is that I should be given a good role and my appearance in the film should be justified.

Q: From 'Sankalpa' to 'March 22', you have acted in several movies. Which is the one film that brought you complete satisfaction?

A: I started my journey with Konkani and Kannada dramas. For nearly 10 years, I have acted in art movies with eminent directors such as G V Iyer, Shyam Benegal, P Lankesh and Girish Karnad. After I gained recognition in art movies, I went on to do commercial movies such as 'Bayalu Daari', 'Chandanada Gombe' and 'Na Ninna Bidalaare'. I am satisfied with all my movies.

Recently, I received an award for the Kannada movie 'Godi Banna Saadharana Maikattu'. I played a character suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. I had seen such character in a drama before entering the film industry. Satyadev Dubey, my guru in Hindi theatre, had given me a book titled 'Death of the Salesman' by Arthur Miller in which a 60-year old is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. I had asked Satyadev if I could do such a role. He had dismissed the idea right away and told me that one needs to have a lot of experience in acting to perform such a role. Finally I got that opportunity in 'Godhi Banna Sadharana Maikattu'.

Q: You trained in theatre before entering the film industry. Recognizing your talent Shyam Benegal gave you the opportunity to act in a Hindi movie. But today the situation has changed. Do you think it is necessary for actors or actresses to get trained in theatre before doing films?

A: No. During our time, there was no television and the only way for us to enter films was through theatre. During our school days, we used to act in dramas or skits and then made way into movies. Now, there is TV, but drama is still performed in some places. Besides, you have acting schools and TV too is a training ground.

Q: Today’s actors do not train much. Your views on it?

A: I never trained before entering the film industry. I never had any desire to become an actor. It happened automatically.

Q: Today film producers are making films only to launch their sons or daughters. Most of the actors are pushed into films without any basic training. Do you agree?

A: You cannot say one knows how to act or if one can act after getting trained. An actor can shine in the industry without any training. As usual there is nepotism in every field, there is nepotism in this field too.

Q: 'March 22' is a big budget Kannada movie produced by Harish Sherigar. There is a lot of expectation from the film in the film industry and Sherigar supporters. Can you brief about your role in the film?

A: I have done several movies with Kodlu Ramakrishna. Two decades ago, he had mentioned about this story. I had told him that the movie needed a big producer as it would involve a lot of expense and would require a huge canvas. Ramakrishna met Harish Sherigar during a shoot at his residence where he discussed the concept of 'March 22'. Now, after many years, Harish Sherigar and Sharmila Sherigar came forward to produce the film. Kodlu Ramakrishna too approached me with a prominent role in the film.

'March 22' is a major film in Kannada film industry which has a huge canvas. 'Godhi Banna Sadharana Maikattu' was done within a small boundary while 'March 22' is simply huge. I play the character of a geologist. The movie consists natural disaster, social and economic issues, and politics.

Q: Tell us about the title 'March 22'.

A: Water is the basic necessity in our daily life and according to experts, the reason for the next war would be water. March 22 is celebrated as World Water Day, and that is the reason for the name of the film.

Q: You have been through a lot of ups and downs in your four decades of acting career and life. How do you compare the movies of your early career and the present day?

A: I entered the film industry in the sixties. The presence of talent in an artiste has been one of the main requisites then and now. Even though technology has improved a lot, the subject of a film is very important. One of the best examples for a film with a good subject is the Kannada hit 'Godhi Banna Sadharana Maikattu'. The reason I am stressing on 'March 22' is because of its subject.

Q: When you started your acting career, films were the only medium other than radio. The audience had no options other than movie theatres and drama. Now, things have changed as many movie channels exist in all languages. Social media has advanced to a great level. Do you think, audience who prefer to watch movies at theatres are less nowadays?

A: If the film is good, people will definitely come to theatres. It all depends on the industry, people and talent around you. Even if technology has advanced, cultural music, dance, and Yakshagana are still being watched in various parts of the state. People are preserving their culture and tradition. I feel that there is only a minor impact.

Q: You have acted in films of other languages too. How is it different from the Kannada film industry?

A: There is nothing different in acting. But, when you go to a different film industry, you will find something special about their language. For example, there is a saying in Kannada 'Kai kesaradare bai mosaru'. There are similar sayings in other languages too, but we need to understand their culture to understand and get an idea about the same.

Q: Have you acted in English movies?

A: I have worked in 'Garwa', a serial with Prakash Belawadi who is a journalist and theatre enthusiast. He even made an English movie titled 'Stumble' which won a national award.

Q: Actors nowadays try their hands at direction after acting in 4-5 movies. You never tried direction. Why?

A: A director in his entire career can direct 60 movies if he completes one movie every year. My brother Shankar Nag, six years younger to me, loved direction. After he entered the film industry, he did many home productions under his direction. I always thought that it will be good if I remain an actor. Director’s work is not so easy and it is a very difficult job. It takes a year for pre-production and post production for every film. As it was not my forte, I was content with acting.

Q: As you mentioned about your brother Shankar Nag, at the time of his death in an accident, he was at the top position and had lots of fans. After his death, you had said that he was more like a son to you.

A: I was just eleven years old when I was sent to Mumbai. Shankar came to Mumbai two years later. We belonged to a middle class family. I had to take the responsibility of bringing him up.

He used to come along with me to theatre and watch me. We moved together and he often followed my footsteps. Our father used to tell me, a son should be treated like a friend once he crosses 18 years of age. I would treat my brother like a friend. But unfortunately, God took him at the age of 34.

Q: You were active in politics for 20 years, you have been a minister and even contested for MP's seat. All of a sudden in 2004, you stepped back from politics.

A: I entered politics because of Jayaprakash Narayan. My politics basically was anti-Congress. There was rift between Janata Party and BJP. In 1999, Ramakrishna Hegde, J H Patil, Bommayya, and H D Deve Gowda were along with me. In the centre, I knew Atal Bihari Vajapayee and L K Advani. The rift within Janata Party continued and Janata Dal emerged. On the other hand BJP was emerging.

I never entered politics to become a minister. I felt that one at the forefront needs to step aside to create better alternatives. Hence, I quit politics.

Q: In 2004, you contested against S M Krishna in the Assembly polls.

A: I had quit politics in 1999 itself. But in 2004, H D Deve Gowda forced me to contest the elections as there was no candidate opposite S M Krishna.

When I joined politics, I was only 26. When I quit politics, I was 50. Many enter politics for the sake of administration which I tasted. Acting was my field and I returned to it.

Q: 'Malgudi Days' telecast on Doordarshan had revolutionised the TV industry and the nation. What changes did it bring to your professional career?

A: Shankar and I did many movies, but could not find success. It is not easy to become a successful director or to make a successful movie. Shankar did not have any filmy background as he came along with me and followed my footsteps. So it was impossible for us to make an out-an-out commercial movie.

We received an offer of working on R K Narayan’s 'Malgudi Days'. I encouraged Shankar to take this project up. He asked me to act in the project. I located a spot at Agumbe specially for 'Malgudi Days'. As a director, he got a hold on video through Malgudi Days and enjoyed it. He did a good job. He bagged awards from all over the world. If you want to know about Shankar, then you have to watch 'Malgudi Days'.

Q: If we speak about the Kannada film Industry, today every minor problem is being discussed on TV. There will be discussion about payments and also about someone's personal life. As a senior artiste, what advice will you give young and emerging actors?

A: I will not give any advice to anyone. If something is really right, we can discuss on TV. Otherwise, you will not be remembered for long. If you have complete knowledge of any matter, then go for a discussion. If you simply want to chat, then there is no sense.

When something is circulated on social media, it is just an information or total gossip. There is a lot of difference between knowledge and information. What is happening on TV is just some information. If it is warranted and your presence is required, then go for it.

Q: The Coastalwood film industry is growing at a fast pace. Tulu movies are running at most of the theaters here. Earlier, there was a huge craze for Kannada movies in Mangaluru, which have reduced now. Does this pose a threat to Kannada films?

A: There might be different reasons. After films came to entertain people, Yakshagana did not fade. There is place for everyone under the sun. Dakshina Kannada district has an outstanding culture and art, industry and transport. It stands number one in the country as a growing district which I am proud of. Tulu films are increasing and people are watching them, which is one of the best things to happen to the film industry.

Q: You have done all kinds of role in theatre and movies. Any dream role that you wished to do but never got an opportunity?

A: Sometimes I feel that this is enough. But there are times when I get different types of characters to play. I am 68 now and still being offered good roles. I take up projects only when I am offered something really good.

Q: Are you satisfied with your career?

A: I became an actor by chance. I remember my father saying that I did not become an engineer, doctor or lawyer and that was haunting me. When people started praising me for my acting abilities, I realised that acting was the only thing I could do.

Q: Several youngsters are attracted to movies because you have inspired many. You have been a non-controversial actor. Any message for youngsters?

A: What you study in school and college is not education. There is something to learn from life. Every minute, every second, you learn and your mind gets matured.

Your growth as a person stops when you stop learning. So even if you become successful in any field, do not stop learning. Keep growing and developing.

Q: Your wife was also an actress. Your daughter has close attachment to the district. Your son-in-law is from Vittal. How was their support in your professional career, especially now?

A: I married very late, six years after my brother’s marriage. I married at the age of 38. Gayathri is there with me. After she came into my life, my acting career shaped up well. I give all credit to my wife for my success.

Q: Other than 'March 22', what are your future plans and projects?

A: Just as I played a different role in 'Godhi Banna Sadharana Maikattu', I have a different role in 'March 22'. I am doing a movie 'Hottegaagi Yeny Batte Gaagi'. There are 3-4 offers, but I am yet to decide on those.

Watch Full Interview

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Comment on this article

  • vishwanath salian, ruwi- muscat

    Tue, Aug 15 2017

    one of the finest actor of kannada film industry proud to be kannadiga

    DisAgree Agree [1] Reply Report Abuse

  • MV Shetty, Bangalore

    Sat, Aug 5 2017

    Great artist and actor par excellence.
    Pleasure to go through this interview as Mr Nandalike had covered all salient points of Mr Nags life.
    Thanks Daiji

    DisAgree Agree [4] Reply Report Abuse

  • Vincent Rodrigues, Bengaluru/Katapadi

    Fri, Jul 28 2017

    Anant Nag is a fantastic actor with full of talents.He proved his metal in the film industry

    DisAgree Agree [7] Reply Report Abuse


    Fri, Jul 28 2017

    My childhood favorite hero. Anant - Laxmi pair is fantastic..

    DisAgree Agree [10] Reply Report Abuse

  • R. Lewis, Mangalore

    Thu, Jul 27 2017

    One of the best actor..

    DisAgree Agree [16] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sujith, Mangalore

    Thu, Jul 27 2017

    He is simple & great actor for ever in Kannada film industry. Young actor, actress follow his footsteps may learn & shape of their acting career.

    DisAgree Agree [14] Reply Report Abuse

  • James, Kuwait

    Thu, Jul 27 2017

    One of the finest actor...I have seen his most of the films...He can do any kind of role .......I wish him best of luck....I want to see him Hero role once again....

    DisAgree Agree [28] Reply Report Abuse

  • FRANCIS, Dubai

    Thu, Jul 27 2017

    The interview of Anant Nag with the Daiji Editor, Mr. Walter Nandalike is brilliant and pleasing . Anant Nag has chosen his words and it is really an impeccable interview...

    Anant Nag was such a dashing and dazzling actor during those old days, who gave so many good movies and his acting skill is really praise worthy!! His, brother Shankar Nag too was also a talented actor but it is unfortunate that he died too early. May his soul rest in peace.

    DisAgree Agree [28] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nancy, Mumbai

    Thu, Jul 27 2017

    Shankar Nag, Anant Nag and The Sahasa Sihma Vishnuvardhan!...Golden days of our childhood.

    Thanks Waltey reminding our childhood by doing this interview.....

    DisAgree Agree [32] Reply Report Abuse

  • Nithya, Mangalore

    Thu, Jul 27 2017

    It's a great pleasure watching you on the screen Sir.

    DisAgree Agree [21] Reply Report Abuse

  • Joe Britto, Nakre/Mangalore

    Thu, Jul 27 2017

    One of the Greatest Actors ever in Karnataka.
    A wonderful human being.

    If Shankar were to be with him the duo would have taken Karnataka Film Industry yo great heights and the down trodden people in lower strata of society to greater heights.

    DisAgree Agree [23] Reply Report Abuse

  • Sushmitha Shetty, Mumbai

    Thu, Jul 27 2017

    Wonderful interview..Thank you Mr Walter Nandalike and Daijiworld

    DisAgree [2] Agree [31] Reply Report Abuse

  • Elwyn Goveas, Valencia

    Thu, Jul 27 2017

    One of the great film star in kannada movies in the late 70 and early 80.He along with his brother Shankernag were outstanding .I still remember his movie bara,Na nina bidalare which brought them great name and fame .

    DisAgree [1] Agree [39] Reply Report Abuse

  • Jossey Saldanha, Mumbai

    Thu, Jul 27 2017

    I have seen this movie in my teens ...

    DisAgree Agree [12] Reply Report Abuse

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Title : Mangaluru: Exclusive - Living legend Anant Nag speaks on journey in films, politics & more


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