Singham 3 villain Thakur Anoop Singh spoke to Asianet Newsable on Monday about his journey from a student of an aviation school to playing villain roles to his switch to the role of a hero in the south film industry. Below are excerpts of the interview:

Question: You are recognised as the villain who played opposite Tamil Superstar Surya, but now you will be known as a hero, how did this switch happen?

“Yes, I had the potential and am now going to be launched as a hero. I’m known as an antagonist. I thank Sunil Kumar Desai sir, the director of Udgharsha for casting me as the protagonist.  While I played a villain opposite Surya Sir, Allu Arjun in Telugu and Darshan in Kannada, I observed them closely and asked myself what I would do If I were to be offered the same role. The question has always played on my mind and now this film will reveal the answers.”

How did this film come about to be?

“I have acted in over six films as a villain and taught I will be playing a negative role this time too as Sunil Kumar Desai is known for making romantic films and thrillers like Sparsha and Nishkarsha with Sudeep sir and Vishuvardhan playing heroes. But I was told I am the hero. I asked him why this decision, he said he has seen a hero in me who hasn’t got an opportunity yet. He wanted to explore this opportunity and that is how it worked out for me.”

What can you tell us about Udgharsha?

“The film will hit theatres in four days, and I am nervous. The film is a murder mystery and a thriller. Apart from the regular people involved in an incident, there are people who have a part to play in it. Like in the case of traffic accident, if a person attends to and shifts the victim to the hospital, he or she becomes a part of it. By giving statements or becoming a witness in the same way one incident connects others in the film.”

This is a multilingual film; how did you cope?

“Yes, it will be released in Kannada, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam. I managed to give my own voice in over two films. I had to practice language skills for over five hours a day.  The director did not want any acting he wanted everything to seem natural.”

Is there a stereotype thinking among South film directors that North Indian artists are better suited to play villains?

“That is a good observation, but in my case that statement doesn’t hold true, as I am playing a hero. What I know is that this has boosted my confidence level.”

How did you transform into an artist from being a student of an aviation school and an athlete?

“I was a trainee pilot in 2007 and 2008. However, at the age of 19 I was ready to be an actor. I would have been about 21 or 22, when I found myself acting in TV serials. I had to play Dhritarashtra who was 125 years old in Mahabharat. I was the youngest actor playing the oldest character.  I had put on a lot of weight. I also approached many production houses tried to get into Bollywood, but they told me I was fat, and I was rejected. I was disappointed, but I took it upon myself as a challenge; No salt, no sugar, 1-kilo chicken and 40 egg whites for one year. I changed my appearance.  I became lean, muscular and more fit. I participated in the Mr India contest and I won. I also represented India in Thailand. People said that I cannot win, I showed them what an Indian can do as it once again hurt my ego and I won the bronze. I went back and handed over the medal to the same person who rejected me saying that he was not ready.  Luckily, Puri Jagganath sir saw my profile and gave me a break and I ended up playing a villain in Rogue. I did a few films after that, but it was Singham 3 that gave me much fame.”

Question: How was your experience working with Darshan?

“Darshan sir played the protagonist in Yajamana. He has already completed 50 films and has a big fan following and deservedly so. He earned it the hard way. I am just a beginner and consider myself fortunate to have worked with him.”

Question: Can you take us through your personal journey of the film?

“Director Sunil Kumar wanted everything to be as real as it can get. I had to pick a 120-kilo man and throw him. I had to fall on a car and the window panes broke and my hands were bruised, but we administered some first aid and resumed shooting again… My parents are my first audience and they saw the film. My father is easily distracted, but he sat through the entire duration of the two-and-a -half-hour movie. This is an indication that this will work.”