Dhananjay in Tagaru
In an exclusive interview ahead of Tagaru release, Kannada actor Dhananjay opens up on his career, philosophy.Kadur Raghu

The tinsel world is often described as a place where success is a chimera or a fleeting moment of glory. The aspiring actors without godfathers should be prepared for the most embarrassing disillusions unless one is so brave enough to fight against the odds. Out of the hundreds that enter the industry with big dreams, but a few would survive, let alone a successful stint. 

Here is one such talent who has acted in eight movies and hoping the lady luck will smile big time in his ninth project which will redefine his career. You guessed it, we are talking about Dhananjay, the man who has acted in a variety of roles in his career and is now eagerly awaiting the release of his next film, Tagaru.

Here is the first part of an interview with International Business Times in which Dhananjay candidly talks about his journey so far, the lessons that he learnt along the way, success and many more. Here are the excerpts from the interview:

How has been your journey since your debut in Director's Special?
There have been ups and downs, and I would see it is a memorable journey. I've acted in eight movies and the most satisfying part is that I have got opportunities to work with some acclaimed filmmakers and big banners. Starting from Guruprasad in Director's Special and Eradane Sala, to Nagabharana's Allama, directors have tried to present me in different ways. If I was a cable operator in Raate, I turned a boxer in Preetham Gubbi's and a ghost in Jessie.

In every movie, there were challenges associated with my roles and opportunities to raise the bars. As a result, I have survived here and I consider myself lucky to be part of a movie like Alamma and in my ninth film I am playing the antagonist in Shivaraj Kumar's Tagaru -- what more can I ask for!?

Yet, at the same time, I went through bad experiences too without which I could not have learnt a lot of lessons in the industry.

Eight movies in five years seem to be less for a youngster like you. Are you very selective about your scripts?
My first two movies – Directors' Special and Raate – consumed five years. I have done six movies in the three years. I did not commit any other project in those years. During the process, I had signed movie called Vijayaditya. I had put in a lot of effort on this project and injured my leg after falling from a horse while enacting an action sequence. It was at rest for three months. Unfortunately, the movie was shelved at some point in time.

It was a difficult phase for me at that time as I had some bad experiences in the industry. I was very innocent then and people used to take me for granted. I also learnt an important lesson - success may have many fathers, but failure is an orphan. It was easy to put the blame on me for their failures. Yet I was clear in my mind that I would not accept movies to please others and will only take up projects if I am satisfied with the story. I was not afraid of going jobless and told myself 'I'd rather quit than do bad movies.' 

I would do not like to accept movies simply because I might remain jobless for some time. One thing that I can say without any doubt is I choose only the best scripts that had come my way. In every movie, I have given my best shot.

You haven't acted in any remake movie. Is there any particular reason for it?
I am not against remakes. I don't have any qualms about doing movies that I liked in other languages. Having said that a movie like Vikram Vedha or Arjun Reddy has been received well in Karnataka as well. In such cases, I think twice before accepting the film. Nonetheless, I prefer original to remake.

You left a highly-paid job to pursue acting. Have you ever regretted your decision?
There have been incidents when people treated me with no humanity. I only cursed my decision to work with them, but never ever I regretted my decision as good and bad experiences are part of every industry. I just want to focus on my work and nothing else.

Are you happy with your progress?
There is something called luck factor in the film industry. I have heard people talking about me saying that 'I am not lucky' as I am not able to deliver a big hit in spite of working with big filmmakers and banners. But I just tell them that I have been sincere in my work and given my 100 percent. I feel nobody can become a star overnight. Even the movies of big stars tank at the box office. In that case, my movie has never been declared a disaster.

I consider myself lucky because as a small town boy from Kalenahalli village in Arasikere. I have found a place in the film industry. I am lucky because I have got the opportunity to work with fine scripts and award-winning filmmakers. And in my ninth movie, I am playing a villain opposite Shivaraj Kumar. This, for me, is an achievement. So, I am happy with my progress.

How difficult is to survive in the industry without a godfather?
It is very difficult until you prove yourself here. People start respecting you only after you show them that you have a market here. The other problem is we wouldn't often get paid for our work. On many occasions, I have been given only the advance amount for my work. But we cannot help it as that is how it works here! The herculean task is to ensure our movies stays in theatres. But luckily in my case, people have often stood by me.

How do you handle success and failures?
There are many factors that come to play for the success of a film. Allamma was a good movie, but it failed in its reach. I have received overwhelming compliments from people. Likewise, my Eradane Sala has garnered over eight lakh hits. These two incidents tell that people like our movies, it failed to reach them upon release. Frankly speaking, success and failures are not in my hands. I can give my best. I await the response till Monday after my film hit the screens. Thereafter, it is a new day for me and I plan to concentrate on my next project.

I came with a TVS excel to the industry and I own a Hyundai I20 today, but it has not changed me as a person. Tomorrow, I might be part of big hit movies and my lifestyle might change, but not the Dhananjay inside me.

What is your message to the aspiring actors?
Everyone should know their potential, their strength, and weakness. Believe in yourself. One should not plead too much for opportunities as people might exploit it. Yes, it is not wrong to ask people to give an opportunity to work, but thinking that 'I will do anything to work' will not help as people will make you work for years and in return, we will not get anything. So, any aspiring actor should be careful about their choices and draw a line stating that till this extent I will compromise and work.

You do not have major hits to your credit and there are people, with little talent and luck, have been part of very successful movies. Do you think the industry has not tapped your true potential?
People recognize the talent in the actor and producers keep their eyes on the business angle. Gone are the days when we say that I am an artist and I just bother about acting. These days, self-promotion matters a lot. Initially, I did not endorse the social media trends where I talk about myself. But times have changed and today we need to talk about ourselves for a better reach.

Every actor should make efforts to think from the business perspective. A star will be measured by his opening. It is fine if someone with lesser talent than me wins the race as it is his destiny. I am here not to compete with anyone and I want to improve myself on a daily basis. Moreover, I believe in long-term success than immediate gains or short-lived success. And coming to the potential part, as I said, I have got challenging subjects like Allamma and a commercial movie like Tagaru.

Do you have any dream role that you would like to act in movies?
I always dreamt of being part of historical movies and I consider myself lucky to have worked in Alamma at such a younger age. My other project Vijayaditya was also a period movie which was shelved. I would say 'yes' to historical movies on any day.

Here is the second Part of the Interview