The latest Telugu web series on ZEE5, Gods Of Dharmapuri, has been receiving rave reviews, due to its gritty content and powerful storytelling. Apart from the great technical aspects, the gangster saga is mainly brought together with the effort of its impressive ensemble cast. One of the most discernible parts of this ensemble cast is its youngest member, Karthik Rathnam. He’s the boy who bagged the state honour of Nandi Award For The Best Child Artist at the age of 10. Now, he comes back with a bang at 22, with his sophomore project, G.O.D.
After a little back and forth, we finally manage to have a candid conversation with the young actor. Read the edited excerpts from the interview below.
Q. This is only your second project. Your debut film was the first Telugu movie to be screened at the New York Indian Film Festival. Now, G.O.D is said to set new standards for Telugu OTT. What do you have to say?
A. I have been doing theatre for 12 years. I have been struggling for a long time. I got the first film, C/O Kancharapalem after many auditions. I feel really lucky for this opportunity. After that, I did not want to dive into whatever came my way next. I was waiting for something worthwhile and that’s when I G.O.D came my way. I really feel lucky to have had it all.
Q. Do you follow a certain process or want to do certain type of projects?
A. There is no such process or so. If I feel that the director and the crew are genuine and my character has a certain honesty, I’ll do it. Every character has its own character arc, honesty within and I want that. I never wanted to do something heroic. My guru, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, is sitting there in Mumbai.
Q. Following up a slice-of-life drama with an out-and-out revenge saga, how was the experience?
A. Since childhood, I had a fantasy of killing (laughs). I would be wondering how it would feel if I stab someone with a knife or dagger in films. And G.O.D gave me that opportunity. It was like once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so I wanted to leave no stone unturned. A lot of aspiring actors in Hyderabad or around me are pretty jealous because I got this interesting character.
Q. How would you like to describe your character, Ravi Reddy?
A. There is no suitable definition for Ravi Reddy. He is intense, lost in his own world, he’s a very happening person. He is loving too. He is a Bruce Lee fan.
Q. In the trailer, you seem comfortable doing things that would be considered extreme otherwise. What do you have to say?
A. Ravi Reddy doesn’t do anything that a normal person would do. I wasn’t trained in martial arts or something else. That bit was difficult, everything else I can do.
Q. What was the kind of preparation you went through for this character?
A. I gave the auditions first. Then, I was selected. I went back home with the script and started going through it. I am from Hyderabad, so my dialect is entirely different. To get some hold on the dialect, I watched many interviews of politicians from Rayalaseema. I would mug up the dialogues. But then to make it effortless, I would practise more, in front of the mirror. And our writer Bhargav Karthik, who is originally from Rayalaseema, helped me tremendously to get the dialect right. Even during the dubbing, he was there for me. My director, Anish Kuruvilla, is the craziest person I have ever seen. He would tell us the mood of the character. If we lacked something, he would find ways to spice it up, tell us where to jump from, when to shout. The whole team helped us a lot to get into the character. Before the shoot, I had a fully-grown beard and long hair. So, I went to a local salon and got my beard shaved off and asked the barber to give it a good ‘70s look.
Q. What can we expect from your character through the 10 episodes?
A. He will surely entertain you. Initially, you will be hating him, considering the things that he does. But eventually, you will develop a liking towards him, have a soft corner for him.
Q. Is there a particular genre of content you prefer or enjoy? Why?
A. I like intense drama, not necessarily fictional. The only genre I don’t want to watch or act in is Horror. I don’t understand why we have to pay to be scared.
Q. What are your biggest takeaways from G.O.D?
A. Well, I learned how to puff a cigarette properly. I used to mouth-fag first, but now I’ve learned. I used to be afraid, not shy, of speaking to girls. But now, it’s manageable (laughs). And more importantly… I have been a very lean person. But after G.O.D, I feel like even I can take on a fight. I got that confidence. I’m not less than anyone.
Q. When will we see you next?
A. My first is being remade in Tamil and I am reprising my role again. So, that’s all.
We’re excitedly waiting to see what this actor places his hands on next, and what newer heights he achieves. Wishing him the best, we sign out. You can catch the 10-episode intense drama of G.O.D on ZEE5 now.