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Bridging the North-South divide

Published Jan 14, 2014, 8:32 pm IST
Updated Mar 19, 2019, 6:26 am IST

“Each film is only as good as its villain. Since  heroes and their gimmicks tend to be repetitive in film after film, only a great villain can transform a good attempt  into a triumph” — said critic Roger Ebert. Antagonists in a movie drive the film forward and need not necessarily look dark, evil and menacing and truth be said, why be good when being bad is more fun? Nodding assent to this statement is the baddie from north India, Dev Singh Gill who is all set to lock horns with superstar Mohanlal in his debut Mollywood film Mr Fraud.

Dev, though a debutant in Malayalam, has already been a part of nine films in Telugu, Kannada and Tamil with some hit films like Magadheera, Sura, Ragada, Rachcha, Nayak etc. to his credit and is considered to be a lucky mascot. Dev was also seen in the Bollywood film Bhaag Milkha Bhaag as the Pakistani Abdul Khaliq, who is Milkha’s opponent in the final race.


Dev springs a surprise when he reveals, “My maternal grandparents were based in Ernakulam but I have never lived in Kerala.  I can speak a little bit of Malayalam and I visit Kerala occasionally to visit temples and because of my roots here. Being a sardar, I have played a Pakistani and most people consider me to be a South Indian because of my looks, so am looking forward to a long connection with Kerala.”

Talking about his debut in  Mr Fraud Dev says, “When I was informed that there was this antagonist role opposite Mohanlal, I did not even ask for the script. To me, it is a dream come true and I am convinced that director Unnikrishnan knows how intense an actor I am. I trust  he will not waste my talent.” Adding that he has not met the director for any narration but has spoken to him over the phone and watched a couple of Unnikrishnan’s films. Dev has only asked for  a  week’s time to prepare for his role. “I surrender to the director as he is the captain of the ship,” he says.


Dev is also very particular that whatever role he takes up, the connect with the audience is crucial. He says, “When I do a south Indian film which is a foreign language, I try to adapt the local looks to add authenticity to my character. I want to be sure that a man in the remote interiors who spends Rs 30 for a ticket should not come out of the theatre feeling that I look like a north Indian.”

The tone of his voice, the glint in his eye and the angle of Dev’s brow have found favour with most directors who have cast the good looking actor as the villain. So isn’t he being typecast? “It is not about playing the hero or the villain; it is about playing a character as realistically as possible at the end of the day. I am happy playing the antagonist and every director has  a different approach to the villain’s role when he casts me. As a hero, I may not be able to play too many shades but as a villain, I can experiment with my looks and trouble the hero, the heroine and the director too!” he quips.


Dev has two Telugu projects on the anvil and also a Hindi film where he plays the hero.