Watching the Vijay Deverakonda produced game-changing black comedy Meeku Maathrame Cheptha one is struck by its leading man Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam’s comic timing and his skilled swerves into unexpected self-expressions. And to think Tharun is a reluctant actor!
“Oh absolutely! I didn’t want to be an actor. Though I had done a few small roles including one in the Savithri bio-pic Mahaniti, that was more a random move than a planned career in acting. Then the script of this film Meeku Maathrame Cheptha came along,” says the affable director-turned-actor who lost 17 kilos to play Rakesh , the clueless bridegroom-to-be who on the eve of his wedding finds himself in an unsavoury controversy.\
The film which opened on Friday has the audience taking to Tharun in a big way. “I was so nervous. I didn’t know how funny audiences would find me. On Friday I visited some theatres to see the audiences’ reaction and then later, my wife (costume designer Latha Tharun Bhascker Dhaassyam) told me I was convincing in the film. Only then was I reassured. Now I can sleep peacefully.”
Tharun explains how the role came to him by default. “The role was offered to my dear friend Vijay Deverakonda. He couldn’t do it. So he suggested my name. I don’t know how or why he was me suitable for a role offered to him. At that time I weighed a 105 kilos. Whatever potential I had as an actor was submerged in flab.”
Not only did Vijay persuade Tharun to accept the role he also agreed to produce Meeku Maathrame Cheptha.
Says Tharun, “Vijay couldn’t do the film.At the same time he didn’t want to let go of the project. He suggested that he produce it. The idea that I lose weight for the role came in much later.Probably Vijay didn’t suggest it initially as he knew I would just run away from the project. It was director Shammeer Sultan who knows exactly what he wants .He suggested I lose weight for the role.”
Tharun found himself being reluctantly put under the weight-losing regime. “I had never in my life gone to a gym or restricted my diet. But I was persuaded to lose 17 kgs.I don’t know how I was tricked into it. Now I feel lighter healthier. After the film’s release Vijay said to me with a smile, ‘Don’t stop going to the gym.’ I think it was always his game-plan to make me lose weight.Even when I was directing Vijay in Pelli Chopullu he was concerned because I’d be out of breath.”
Was Tharun tempted to direct the director in Meeku Maathrame Cheptha? “No way! I didn’t want to become one of those interfering actors that I hated. I focused entirely on my acting and let Shammeer Sultan do his job. He is so good at it!”
Now that Tharun has tasted stardom does he intend to face the camera more often?
He shakes off the stardom. “It is amazing to get so much attention.But I know my vocation, and it’s direction. I am destined to be behind the camera.So unless something outstanding comes up I’d not be acting. My next project is a web series in Telugu with newcomers.” With a film like Meeku Maathrame Cheptha completely changing the movie-making language in Telugu Tharun sees the language barriers falling of. “Regional is now global and I am glad to be part of that change.”