Coming from a middle class family settled in Chikmagalur and involved in the coffee plantation empire, Gurunandan was naturally busy taking care of his family business. After having studied till second pre-university, the actor decided to take a break from coffee, and headed towards the world of glitz and glamour. After his big screen debut flopped, he was naturally disappointed and it was not until years later that Gurunandan took up First Rank Raju – a film that turned out to be a do-or-die project for him. He speaks to Bengaluru Chronicle about his rebirth as an actor as his second attempt earns him all the appreciation, with huge box office takings and houseful shows across screens.
“I am very happy with the way that things have worked out since the release of the film. I had struggled for more than three years after my first film Cyber Yugadhol flopped, and the bad luck continued as there were no offers from small or big screen ventures. I started afresh by acting in small and support roles. It was when Naresh, who is the director of First Rank Raju, called me one day and told me the essence of the film in just one sentence. I was impressed with the concept, and the journey began once again,” says Gurunandan.
Determined to do something in life, the actor had even run away from home while studying in high school. “Life was usual for me. After I studied till second PUC, it was just routine to visit the estate on a daily basis. Apart from politics and sports, I always believed that acting was the easiest way to attain fame and name. However, I realised the bitter truth only in the later part of life. I landed in Bengaluru and started looking for opportunities, and after years of struggle I got into the cast of a TV soap. I did Lakumi, a TV serial which was quite popular and ran for more than 350 episodes,” he says.
“Later, few small roles followed the flop film. I was so depressed that I almost lost faith. But Naresh pulled me back. With lots of care and the involvement of new talents, we started the project. The minute I watched the promo of the film, even before people started voicing their appreciation of it on social media, I gained confidence,” he adds.
Unlike the character he portrays in First Rank Raju, in real life Gurunandan was a naughty child and a last bencher in schools and colleges. “I used to have a lot of fun in school and even in the two years of my college life. I would mimic everyone and get up to all sorts of mischief. But in the movie I just had to become ‘first rank Raju,’ as it talks about our educational system and how it has become a sort of business. I am glad that parents, teachers and even students are appreciating the movie. Almost all shows are houseful,” says the relieved Gurunandan.
Before signing off, Gurunandan shares that he has decided to do another project with the same team and once the film hits the 100 day mark, they would head for the floors with the ready screenplay. This time, he says, he will attempt to bring to life, a romance with a message in it! It looks like ‘Raju’ is ready to fall in love! Whether it breaks his heart or not, Raju has so far scored enough to get him a first rank in his second grand attempt!
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