Mangaluru: Exclusive - Tête-à-tête with Arvind Bolar, Tulu industry's living legend

Allwyn Mascarenhas/Pearl D'Souza
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru

Mangaluru, Mar 23: The name Arvind Bolar brings a smile on every Tulu film fan's face. One of the most sought after comedians in Coastalwood, Arvind, is also a known name in the Tulu theatre. He has been part of over a 100 plays, apart from popular 20 films in Coastalwood and Sandalwood in a career spanning over three decades. Arvind Bolar, who was at the Daijiworld Audio-Visual Studio for the dubbing of Tulu film 'Ambar Caterers' recently, spoke to

Excerpts from the interview

DW: What do you think about the state of theatre and dramas in Mangaluru?

AB: There was a time when people were crazy about dramas. I remember the days when I was part of 'Pudar Dheetijji', a Tulu drama at Town Hall. The stage setting was not moved for a month and all the artistees' costumes used to be washed there itself and used for the shows. The response was humongous. The Town Hall used to be overcrowded.

But as television sets came into homes, people stopped venturing outside for entertainment. As programmes are readily available on TV to entertain people, dramas are slowly disappearing from stages. If it was TV earlier, it is mobile phones now. Families are not finding time to spend with each other as they are busy on their phones.

There are a few drama troupes performing now and then in Mangaluru, but not like before. Most of the stage artistes are not professionals and they do it as a hobby. They practice and perform only when they have to give a stage performance and then they go into hibernation.

Earlier, during our times, we used to give out 280 dramas in a year. Dramas during our times used to be made for earning our livelihood.

DW: You have come from the world of Yakshagana and dramas to films. What is the difference between acting in dramas and facing the camera for films? Was it difficult for you as an artiste?

AB: No, not at all. To be frank, for me it was quite easy. It is all about facing the lights. If you know where the lights are and also that you are clear for the camera to be captured, it all easy. While there is a lot of space on stage to move around and perform, we need to be in the said space in front of a camera.

DW: What is the difference between expressions on the stage and movies? Is it possible for any actor from dramas to enter the world of movies?

AB: Expressions in dramas will be noticed by the audience, but not by the viewers watching films. Only a few close-up shots will capture the expressions of the actors. And about actors' transition from drama to films, even a top actor like Dr Rajkumar came from stage. Our own K N Tailor too was part of dramas before he ventured into film-making. If you know to act in dramas, you can boldly face the camera.

Lighting is one of the very important parts of film-making. You can edit or correct any part of the film in post production, but not the lighting.

At the end of the day, it is team work which is behind films. The artistes are not everything. The entire team works for brining a film into existence.

The only difference between drama and films comes in the response. If the drama is disliked by the audience, they can show their dissent by throwing their footwear, but not so in the case of movies as the artistes will be sitting at home (Laughs).

I have never faced such situations as I have the blessings of people and my fans.

DW: What are your thoughts on the response of people after watching dramas and movies?

AB: The performances of each and every artiste in dramas used to be noted by the audience. But in movies, it is one or two hogging the limelight and appreciation.

In very rare cases, dialogues are being remembered. For example, 'Yeregaauve kiri kiri' from Tulu film Ekka Sakka. It was heard on everyone's lips. Frankly speaking, its comedy what people like the most.

DW: Your inspiration to get into theatre?

DW: I got into stage activities when I was in class 4. One of my teachers asked me what I was going to do for an event. I replied that I was not going to do anything. The teacher called me 'huchcha' (mad) and left. I decided to play a mad man on stage. I brought some tomatoes and fish and gave a small performance. I bagged the first prize. That little kid who performed is before you today as a top comedy star.

I have worked with actor Devdas Kapikad for 14 years and then with Vijaykumar Kodialbail. I have worked in around 20 films till now.

DW: Who supported you in your growth as an actor?

AB: My family supported me in all my ventures, be it drama or films. My mother is my backbone. I used to reach home late while I was doing dramas. My family used to stay awake waiting for me to return home. I cannot thank them enough.

I don't have many friends though. I have earned respect from people and reached this level. I don't want to befriend wrong people and fall into trouble.

DW: Have your been selective in picking roles offered to you?

AB: Yes, I have stopped acting in blink-and-miss roles. I had previously acted in some films where I wasn't even noticed. I have given my best to whatever I was offered and never demanded hefty fees. Give me anything and I will take it. As days went on, I was put on board just for the sake of banner. The roles offered to me had nothing special in it. So, nowadays I first see if the character I play is really good and then go ahead to sign the dotted line.

If I like the role, I will do it. If not, I will outrightly reject it. My fans shouldn't be let down. If the role is small, it is not a problem. The role should be good.

In the end, artistes need a platform to show their talent which was given to me by all with whom I worked till date.

DW: We have seen you in a lot of comedy roles. Did you accidentally land into comedy or it was always your forte?

AB: I love comedy. Hence, I am offered only comedy roles. The audience wants me to make them laugh. And thats the trend currently in Coastalwood too.

It is not that I have never done serious roles. In 'Appu', a Tulu drama, I played the role of Appu, a mentally challenged character who dies in the end.

I long to play a villain. A comedy villain. My request to all film makers who offer me roles is, please give me anything, but let it be good characters. Not romantic roles, as I have crossed my age for romance (laughs).

DW: Is it possible for a comedian to act in serious role?

AB: An artiste should be ready to play any kind of role. If he says he cannot do it, that means he is not an artiste.

Artistes should be unique and should not copy others. The personalty of a particular artiste also decides what roles he can do. Comedy artistes are always preferred to be short. They can do any kind of role.

DW: Any plans of acting in serious roles?

AB: If I get a good role, I will definitely do it. People should love my character. Every artiste has to drown himself in the character to do justice to the role. The final result will come on screen. If director is good and he can make me do something extraordinary, I will surely do it.

Selection of roles is very important to me in this stage of my career, as one bad role can make me lose all my reputation. There has been a lot of sacrifice behind what I am today.

DW: Your upcoming movies?

AB: I have many movies on hand. Tulu movies like Yesa, Thottil, Chapter, Marnemi, Ambar Caterers, Arjun weds Amrutha and few others. I am working on Kannada films like Chase, an untitled venture with actor Vijay Ragahvendra and few others are under discussion.

While I am playing comedy roles in almost all movies, the role in Arjun weds Amrutha is a bit different.

DW: How was it working in 'Ashem Zalem Kashem', the first Konkani-Tulu film?

AB: It was a good experience. I never found the language difficult as I was brought up among Catholic people. I am not very fluent in Konkani, but can say my dialogues.

The movie is made by Catholics with Hindus and Catholics acting in it. I want people from every religion to come and watch my movies.

I have earlier acted in Beary language movie also. It was well received and appreciated by the audience.

And while two languages are being spoken in the movie, it will be a change for the audience. We make movies for people to watch and enjoy. We expect people to receive our movie well and support it.

DW: Any message for your fans and audience?

AB: Whatever success I have achieved, its due to to my fans. They have supported me throughout my career, be it dramas or films. My request to Tulu film lovers is please support Coastalwood. Watch Tulu films and encourage the artistes. We need to grow and develop Tulu culture and spread to our future generations.


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