Kochi: Atul Kulkarni needs no introduction. The National Award-winning actor is at ease working in commercial and art house movies. He is also a theatre actor who acts in regional cinema across multiple languages and a familiar face to Mollywood audiences. Atul Kulkarni is returning to Mollywood with Bijith Bala’s Nellikka.
Atul plays a well-to-do banker who lives with his in-laws. The film revolves around events that take place within the family. Speaking about the experience Atul says, "It is a family story and the team is quite young. Scriptwriter Arun and the director are very enthusiastic and have a modern way of looking at films as a craft."
Atul is looking forward to the start of the third schedule of the film and he mentions, "I had been to Kerala but never to Kozhikode. I had heard about the place, its tasty food, the numerous eating joints and biriyani. Since Arun is from Kozhikode, he took me to all the hot spots and eateries."
Atul says that the audience, he included, goes to the theatres to listen to a story and as an actor, it is the story that should be attractive to him, including the director.
Comfortable is the word that comes to mind when Atul acts in regional cinema. Atul explains, "My native place is Belgaum and I understand Kannada and have a flavour for acting in South Indian languages. In fact, my earliest films were in Tamil and Telugu and since then I have been acting in all languages."
Atul will be seen in the upcoming Kollywood film Burma, a thriller, in which he sports a salt and pepper look for the first time.
Atul is also gearing up for the premiere of the Hollywood film Singularity (The Lovers) at the Cannes International Film Festival. Atul plays Raoji, a Maratha Sardar in the historical story set in the 1800s.
Talking about the Hollywood work culture, he says, "The work culture, be it in films or other professions, is very different! There is more equality than we have here, not only in the industry but also in society. I had the opportunity to learn quite a few things."
The old order is giving way to the new across all the industries and Atul who has worked across seven different industries is only too happy with the shift.
He opines, "This changing order is a reflection of Indian society in general! Be it the software or the marketing arenas, it is the youth who are changing the rules which is definitely a welcome change. The present generation is more evolved, has more freedom and more exposure too; I would term it as a big and wonderful change."
Atul is also very vociferous in airing his social and political opinions and he states, "We are intolerant and not respectful of the opinions which are offered. If a person does not agree, he becomes the enemy and the space for healthy discussions is becoming narrower."
A ‘serious actor’ is how Atul is tagged as! Is that tag a limiting one? Atul explains, "Within that image, I have been fortunate to play different roles. I am not playing only antagonist or police officer roles; I cannot be asking for each and every role and be sad if I do not get it!"
Films are not Atul’s only passion, the actor takes his responsibility to the environment very seriously too. He has played an active role in converting a 24-acre barren land in Satara into a forest, a project that kickstarted seven years back.
Atul shares his sentiments, "The project was born out of the thought that living in a city, we are directly or indirectly responsible for the destruction of the land. We are basically letting grass grow in the 24-acres and have planted 2000 trees. Of course the growth is slow and it is patience that is required."