EXCLUSIVE: Kannada actor Nanda Gopal gets candid about old jobs, latest films, and much more

The actor talks about his vibrant professional life and his experiences working with the likes of Allu Arjun and Prabhas.

BySwaroop Kodur

Published May 13, 2024 | 10:00 AMUpdatedMay 13, 2024 | 10:00 AM

Kannada actor Nanda Gopal gets candid about his roles

Kannada actor Nanda Gopal MK’s mantra to navigate life is deceivingly simple — “If something works and it seems real, all you have to do is be open to possibilities”.

The talented actor is currently in the thick of things as he is getting to work with some of the biggest names in the Telugu film industry — Allu Arjun and Prabhas.

He is also getting his share of interesting opportunities back home in Kannada cinema.

He was recently seen in the role of a cop in Yuva (2024), a Hombale Films production.

The last few years have certainly seen him be pretty busy with his acting career.

For someone who profusely waded through the vast system to get his due, Was there any disgruntled “struggle”?

Nanda Gopal says, “I was just so busy with the many twists and turns of my own life that many people haven’t seen me as an actor.”

On the contrary, the reality was far from that because the actor donned many hats in his professional life, and acting is just “a part of it”.

“I do anything as long as I enjoy it. If nothing, the proceeds ensure that I enjoy the engagement,” he declares over a random phone call from his home in the foothills of the Kudremukh range.

I gathered that the Arishadvarga (2019) actor isn’t particularly smitten by the “bustle” of today’s Bengaluru. Also, he currently tends to farm with the same ease and clarity that he deals with his job as an actor.

Also Read: Watch a film and form your own opinion: Malayalam scriptwriter Suvin Somasekharan to film lovers

Life before acting

Nanda Gopal started his career as a sub-editor in a newspaper

Nanda Gopal started his career as a sub-editor in a newspaper in Bengaluru. (Supplied)

An ordinary job by no means, only a few hours after our phone call, he started his journey to Rajahmundry to shoot for a “modest” film named Pushpa 2: The Rule, where a small role has taken his dedication for over a year now.

“I started working with a newspaper as a sub-editor at the crime and business desk for a good couple of years in Bengaluru. Then I taught English at some colleges, including an engineering college. I was also a technical writer with an MNC in Mumbai,” Nanda Gopal recalls.

Eventually and inevitably, his voice emerged from the background.

“I didn’t know I could make a career out of my voice. And when I discovered that this was possible, it took me places. I suppose I have dubbed for more than 200 films now, after accidentally dubbing for Atul Kulkarni in KM Chaitanya’s Aa Dinagalu (2007).”

His voice, of course, has the baritone and the boom that is as much a part of his personality as the stoic yet casual side to his demeanour is.

But well before he put all that to use to score one exciting acting gig after another, he had a proper promising career in radio.

As an RJ, Nanda Gopal ended up doing a Sunday show, a mid-afternoon show, and also an early morning show playing classical and fusion music.

“I got a call many moons ago inquiring whether I would be interested in a radio career. I thought it was a prank call at first, but I showed up anyway at the office. The early morning one was the toughest of the lot because what do you say or talk about between 5 and 7 am every day,” the Kannada actor recollects.

To this date, Nanda Gopal doesn’t know who put him in touch with his recruiter or how he got the job, except that he enjoyed it just as everything else he had done and was going to do.

Were all these jobs, this factotum life, put together to support his love for acting though? “It is to sustain this thing called life,” he quips to quash any kind of romance behind my thoughts.

But then, the thespian profession seems to have pursued him with a purposeful vengeance.

Rasavathi review: Arjun Das effectively shoulders this middling Santhakumar film

On his foray into films

Nanda Gopal on the sets of a film

Nanda Gopal on the sets of a film. (Supplied)

Kannada actor Nanda Gopal duly reminds me that his career began way back in 2000 with his friend Kiccha Sudeepa in Sparsha (2000), the latter’s debut.

“I was an unofficial assistant director on that film. Sunil Kumar Desai, the director cast me to play a director in the film. I was essentially playing Desai himself, so to say.”

For the longest time, many of his acting roles, especially on stage, stemmed out of similar minor adjustments or through friends inviting him to participate.

Nanda Gopal directed many plays during college competitions and even formed a theatre troupe called NamKampni. “Many a time, some actor would back out at the last minute and I had to step in and that’s how the acting wheel kept spinning.”

He doesn’t refrain either from reminding me that he has essayed full-blown roles in many Kannada TV serials including iconic ones like HS Phani Ramachandra’s Danda Pindagalu, Prema Pishaachigalu (where many people thought that he was visually impaired), and Jagalagantiyaru.

The Kannada actor was also part of TN Seetharam’s Muktha, where he wrote and worked in the direction team.

“I have worked with Duniya Suri on a couple of his films. And Arishadvarga, which got me a lot of visibility in 2019, is dear to me as an actor because the director Arvind Kamath gave me space to explore a hitherto unseen facet as an actor,” he says.

Krishnamma review: Satyadev barely salvages this futile, outdated revenge film

Busy with more offers in Telugu

Nanda Gopal is busy with a slew of Telugu films

Nanda Gopal is busy with a slew of Telugu films. (Supplied)

The mojo, however, seems to have been found over the last couple of years with him scoring several solid opportunities in both Kannada and Telugu industries.

Serendipity would have it that Nanda Gopal was in Hyderabad to catch a Christopher Nolan film in IMAX and a friend (Agastya Manju) would urge him to act, leading the Kannada actor to the sets of Ram Gopal Varma’s Vangaveeti (2016).

Cut to 2024, and aside from Pushpa 2 (sharing screenspace with Allu Arjun and Sunil), Nanda Gopal also played a cop in director Maruthi‘s upcoming Telugu film The Raja Saab with Rebel Star Prabhas.

He played a wicked cop in the latest Telugu outing Krishnamma, starring Satyadev Kancharana.

Before that, he was a sleazy film producer/gangster in the Telugu web series Bhamakalapam 2 (2024) and also Kabir Anna in Pavan Sadineni’s crime series Dayaa (2023), naming the latter to be his most challenging role to date.

“There are 18 shades between the colours white and black. I somehow get roles that tilt towards the darker ones,” Nanda Gopal jokes, when asked about his choice of roles.

“I don’t personally differentiate between two grey characters. I just submit to the directors’ vision. All my intelligence is at the beck and call of the guy who makes the film. My job is to go and make that character feel three-dimensional, alive, and enjoy the process.”

About Allu Arjun & Prabhas

And despite all that he is getting to experience of late as an actor, he still strikingly wants to take everything as it comes.

He is aware of the beauty of opportunity and doesn’t shy away from saying that getting to work with Sukumar, Allu Arjun, Prabhas, Fahadh Faasil, and their likes is a “big deal”.

Sukumar sir knows me by my name today and that is a big deal for someone like me who grew up a middle-class kid in Bengaluru. I am also someone who admires Fahadh Faasil for what he does and who he is and I get to observe his craft.”

When Nanda Gopal sees “a dedicated and passionate actor-hero like Allu Arjun work with Sukumar so closely” and just be at it for so long, the Kannada actor finds that effort to be superhuman and amazing.

How about Prabhas? “Before meeting him, I liked and admired him but once I met him, I fell in love with him. You can’t believe that a star so big can be so sweet, immediate, warm, and human. See, as an actor, when you see people who are good at what they do, there’s so much to steal and learn, alva?” he says, with a wink in his voice, before signing off.

Srikanth review: Rajkummar Rao leads a gripping tale of self-determination