Suniel Shetty: At this stage of my career, I need to reinvent myself

Updated: Dec 22, 2019, 07:41 IST | Sonil Dedhia | Mumbai

Playing a villain in Darbar, Suniel Shetty on holding his own in front of Rajinikanth

Suniel Shetty and Rajinikanth
Suniel Shetty and Rajinikanth

It is endearing to see Suniel Shetty, a star with a 27-year run at the movies, turn into a fan boy at the mention of Rajinikanth. The actor acknowledges that sharing screen space with the megastar had been on his bucket list. "When Murugadoss [director] approached me, I said yes mentally since working with Rajini sir was always on [my wish list]," begins Shetty, who plays the antagonist in Darbar. "[Working with him] is a huge responsibility because he is considered the god of acting. Since I am playing a negative character, I have to stand up to him, which was a big challenge."'

What started off as an "unnerving" experience soon gave way for a budding friendship. The actor reveals that the two bonded over food, politics and fitness. "What is commendable about Rajini sir is that he appreciates [his co-star]. After a fight sequence, he told me that I was handling him beautifully. On one occasion, he started clapping after I delivered my dialogue. Such appreciation coming from a superstar like him is so [encouraging]."

He may have started out as an action hero, but over the past two decades, Shetty has not shied away from taking on grey roles. "The last time I played a villain was in Main Hoon Na [2004]. Just like that character, my role here has an emotional back story," he explains.

Darbar marks Shetty's second regional film after his Kannada outing Pailwaan. On the cards is another regional outing—Priyadarshan's Marakkar: The Lion of the Arabian Sea. "At this stage of my career, I need to reinvent myself. I have got interesting offers from down South. The audience is accepting South cinema in a big way."

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