Amitash Pradhan had an epiphany of sorts at the age of three. “While watching Baazigar, I casually turned to my mom and declared, ‘this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.’” And that’s exactly what the Chennai-based actor did. After a smashing debut in 2014 as the villain in the Dhanush-starrer VIP, Pradhan, 27, is on to bigger things. The industry is abuzz about him acting in writer Duane Adler’s (Step Up series fame) directorial debut, Heartbeats.
He says he had no qualms about debuting as a villain in VIP. “I figured if the Thalaiva (referring to Rajinikanth) can debut as a villain, it might work for me as well,” confesses Pradhan, who credits his “rockstar” parents (not from the industry) for all that he is today. And of course, actor Dhanush, for spotting him and urging him to gauge the response for VIP.
The big break
Pradhan recalls how, when his casting agent asked him if he could dance, his instant response was, “I’d like to think so!” But then he realised that she wanted him to audition for a role in Duane Adler’s movie. With the help of Vinu John from Verb School, he created a dance audition tape and sent it to the casting director, Nalini Ratnam. After flying to and fro between Chennai and Mumbai for over eight days and giving several auditions, he got that call from Adler, saying, “Welcome to the family”. Pradhan plays the lead and introduces his co-star to the Indian style of dancing, eventually falling in love with her.
For two weeks, Pradhan trained in Bollywood and hip hop, among other variations of dance styles, for nine hours every day. But he skipped the gym (“Thank God for that!” he quips) as the high intensity training took care of his fitness. “Also, Adler wanted a lean look for the movie,” he shares. Staying true to the “perfectionist” tag, Adler roped in Emmy-winner Tessandra Chavez and Pinga choreographer Shampa Gopikrishna. Pradhan says he had a lot of time to bond with Adler between readings. “I would only be satisfied with my work when he broke into his happy dance or proclaimed ‘Magic has been created!’” he reveals, also grateful to the producer, Andrea Chung. “She was the one who made sure I came through.”
So has he bid farewell to Tamil cinemas for good? “No, Never,” he declares and quotes the song from Ethir Neechal, English pesinaalum Tamizhan daa (I may speak English but I am a Tamilian at heart ) in conclusion.
— Seema Rajpal