Ganesh Venkatram is a popular face down South, especially in the Tamil film industry. Now, he is about to make his debut in the Hindi film industry with ‘Guns Of Banaras’, a film which, incidentally, is the remake of a hit Tamil film. In this interview, he talks about the film, journey from being a software engineer to an actor, working with Amitabh Bachchan, experiencing fatherhood and more.
‘Guns Of Banaras’ marks your debut in the Hindi film industry but you had actually started out with a Hindi TV show called ‘Antariksh’ in 2006.
Yes, I started my acting career with that show. After ‘Antariksh’, I signed another TV show. During this phase, I got offered a Tamil film. Tamil is my mother tongue and I was keen on working in the Tamil film industry. I lapped up the offer. The film was called ‘Abhiyum Naanum’ and was being produced by Prakash Raj’s company. I was paired opposite Trisha in the film. It became a huge hit and was remade in Telugu. Then, Kamal Haasan approached me for ‘Unnaipol Oruvan’, which was the official Tamil remake of ‘A Wednesday’. I played the role which was essayed by Jimmy Sheirgill in the original. I got an award for Best Supporting Actor for the film. I have worked in different languages. I got the opportunity to work with Amitabh Bachchan in the Malayalam film ‘Kandahar’. I was extremely excited when I got to know I will be sharing the screen with him. I got some incredible opportunities in South and now, I think I am ready to explore Hindi films as well.
You have also been very active as an anchor and have hosted several popular TV shows.
Yes, I hosted ‘Fear Factor Tamil’ and ‘Crime Patrol’. I am the brand ambassador for ‘Clean India’, the same campaign which is spearheaded by Akshay Kumar in the pan-India space.
‘Guns Of Banaras’ is the remake of the Tamil film ‘Polladhavan’ Have you seen the original?
Yes, I had seen the original and loved it. I always look for well-written parts and since it was going to be my first Bollywood film, I was even more careful. There was a time when there were stylish villains in Hindi films. Vinod Khanna ji played such characters in many of his films. The character I play in the film is in a similar mould.
The film got a little delayed. Being your first Hindi film, were you disappointed?
No, I was not disappointed. A lot of things go into making a film. There are a lot of action sequences in the film. At the end, what is important is that the film should look fresh and visually appealing. Ever since the trailer came out, I have been getting messages from all my friends and relatives. They are very excited to see me in a Hindi film. I hope Bollywood welcomes me with open arms.
You have studied software engineering. How did you get into acting?
I was working as a software engineer and was supposed to go to America to do my MBA. That is when the World Trade Centre attack happened and my scholarship got rejected because economy crashed. I continued with my job and started wondering where my passion lied. I realised I wanted to do something in media. I participated in Gladrags Mr. India 2003 and that is how my journey in the show business started.
You became father to a baby girl last year.
Yes, my daughter is seven months old now. She has brought a joy to the family and we feel truly blessed to have her.
You had done a film called ‘The Angrez’ in 2006. It was in Hyderabadi Urdu and is a cult film.
Yes, ‘The Angrez’ is still very huge. People keep discovering it and tell me how much they love it. That was technically my first film. There are many fan clubs of the film on social media.
Which are the three films you would like to recommend to a pan-India audience?
‘A Wednesday’, ‘Unnaipol Oruvan’ and ‘Damarukam’ are three films that I would recommend to them.