I want more love from everywhere: Actor Adivi Sesh

Actor Adivi Sesh, who won the 'Best Actor' award at SIIMA, on his plans to become a pan-India star

By Yasser Usman

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Published: Wed 20 Sep 2023, 1:00 PM

Telegu star Adivi Sesh won the 'Best Actor in the Leading Role - Critics' award at the prestigious South Indian International Movie Awards (SIIMA) 2023 at the Dubai World Trade Centre last weekend. Adivi Sesh won the award for his compelling portrayal of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan in the biographical movie Major. We spoke with Adivi about his plans to be a pan-India star and the challenges he faced as an outsider trying to make a mark in the film industry.

You have had a superb year with two successful movies, Major and HIT 2. Major also got six nominations in the SIIMA Awards. Much to celebrate?

Feeing great! Two films of mine were nominated including the best actor for Major. Hard work being recognized, always feels good.

Major is a special film in your career? What are the most precious memories of the film?

I am a fan of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan (the film was based on his life). When we began the process of production, his parents told me the whole purpose of making this film was to keep his memories alive. More than a book, a film has a mass market artistic outreach and today when people talk about Major and it’s nominated for awards in many categories, it’s a big tribute to the memories of Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan. Recently, I was coming from Dubai Airport to my hotel and there was a Pakistani driver who said, ‘Sir, you are the one who played Major Sandeep in the biopic.’ It felt amazing, you know, the reach of the story.

You are a much sought-after star in the Telegu film industry, but last year, Major also became kind of your breakout pan-Indian film including the Hindi speaking regions. Are you aiming to make more of such films?

Yes, that was the aim with Major, to cater to audiences beyond South India. I grew up in the US and I didn’t want to make only localised film. There will be obviously Telegu films but I want their emotions and approach to be universal. The feeling is: why not more love from everywhere? My next two films are going to be Pan India films.

You wear many hats — actor, producer and even screenwriter. How do you want to define yourself?

Shuruaat majboori mei hui thi (It started out of compulsion) and then I started enjoying writing. I began as an outsider in the film industry and most of the roles I was offered were villain roles. The challenge was how to break into this competitive industry. It began with writing one film for myself. That film was Psaham (2016). It was remade as Baaghi 2 (2018) in Hindi. Then I realised this is a process I really love. So I started doing it regularly. But I am also very glad that my successful films like HIT 2 were written and directed by someone else. So it’s not like I want to write every film but it’s nice to mix it up.

You belong to the Telegu Film industry. It is a film industry where every film family has so many people working in the industry… like you have five lead stars that belong to the same family. As an outsider, what were the challenges you faced?

I have a cousin who is a director in the film industry. He guided me initially but ultimately my journey was my own. What I saw was that credibility from audience is the biggest issue. Think of it like McDonalds. Americans, whenever they go to different countries, if they see McDonalds, they will go there knowing exactly what they could expect. That is what a film family brings to the table — credibility. So if you love one star you hope that his son or his younger brother, sister or daughter, will have some of the same magic. They are not wrong. So for an outsider, the biggest challenge becomes to tell the audience, “Hey, you don’t know my dad or mom, give me a chance.” And the audience is like, “But why? We have a bunch of people who come from legacy families that we watch. Why do we watch you?” So the onus becomes on us to set ourselves apart, work really hard and make something happen.

You have been quite versatile in your choice of roles, but of late the focus has been more on thrillers, spy films. Is it a strategy to work on an action hero image?

You know, I have only done one spy film (laughs). That film is Goodachari (2018). It was also dubbed in Hindi as Intelligent Khiladi. That film changed the game in Telegu cinema and brought back the spy genre. That’s why that role and film became famous. But I have enjoyed action cinema. One of my next two films is G2, the sequel to Goodachari while the other one is a love story.

Your Hindi is quite impressive…

Thanks. I learnt it from my Gujarati and Punjabi friends in the US.

Interesting. You were born in born in Hyderabad, raised in Berkeley, California. Tell us something about this journey back from California to the Telegu Film industry?

Actually I grew up there before the IT wave, before the Telegu IT professionals went there. During my time, the desis were mostly Punjabis and Gujaratis. So sometimes I speak Hindi in Gujarati accent and sometimes with a Punjabi style (laughs). I learnt my Hindi vocabulary from them. Joining the Telegu film industry was an emotional as well as a practical decision. I love my mother tongue — Telegu. For my first film, I took money from my father and made it on my own. The cost of movie making is same in any language in India, but if it will cost 4 million to market a film in Telegu, it will cost 40 million to market the film in Hindi, just because there are more number of Hindi speaking people. So it was a practical decision too.

So now when you have earned your millions, will there be more pan-India films catering to more markets?

Yes (laughs). G2, the sequel to Goodachari is definitely a pan-India film and another film that I can say is as much a true-blue Hindi film as it is a true-blue Telegu film.


More news from Entertainment