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Akhil Iyer is juggling between Bollywood and Kollywood industries. After making his successful debut in Lekar Hum Deewana Dil, he is now game for the releases of his Tamil projects. The Bangalore-based boy opened up to Oneindia on his acting career, films and more. Here are the excerpts from the interview...
You did software engineering. But acting was your passion and you left the profession to pursue your dreams in film industry.Wasn't it a hard decision to move out of your comfort zone and take up the new challenge?
Definitely, it was a decision I didn't take lightly. I come from a family of doctors and engineers, so not having the safety net of a family business to fall back on makes you think twice. My family has been extremely supportive which has also given me the encouragement to follow this dream. When I completed my engineering I got placed with Infosys but I decided against it and instead chose to do theatre full time in Bangalore for a year before moving to Chennai.
You are not from the film background. Don't you think it is an uphill task for you to make it big in the film industry without a Godfather?
Uphill? Almost Mt. Everest like! Challenging, but not impossible. Having a Godfather can open doors for you, but you still need to go in and do your best on your own. Having said that, if there are any Godfathers out there looking to adopt-- "Hai". (Laughs)
Do you idolise any actor?
So many!! I love the self-made actor story! I have tremendous respect for Rajnikanth, Amitabh Bachchan and Shahrukh Khan. Amongst the youngsters I think Ranveer Singh is extremely cool and uninhibited. As a kid I used to idolise Akshay Kumar and wanted to grow up to be Akhil Kumar!
How did you bag Lekar Hum Deewana Dil after signing two Tamil films?
I got a call from Bollywood casting director Nandini Shrikent's office about an audition for an Arif Ali film when I was on a break in Bangalore. By then, I was shooting for two Tamil films and had started working on it. Since I was not in Mumbai, she suggested me to shoot the audition at home and e-mail the clip to him. So my brother played cameraman on his iphone and my sister-in-law narrated the heroine's lines and I sent the mail, not really expecting anything. I heard back from them a month later, calling me down to Mumbai to have a face-to-face meeting with Arif. It was a conversation on a Versova balcony over coffee, where he wanted to get to know me a little bit. Another couple of scenes in front of the camera and I was before I knew it that I was signing the contract to play Mahesh!
Have you started getting offers from Bollywood post Lekar Hum Deewana Dil release?
Well, I feel its too premature to talk about that right now, but yes, I have got some positive feedback and it feels very good. Be sure, I will let you know once I have signed that dotted line again!
Please tell us about your forthcoming Tamil movies Iruvar Ondranal and Nijama Nizhala?
I'm really excited about them. Nijama Nizhala falls in the murder mystery thriller space. It's shot guerilla style and is an independent film made on a shoe string budget. It's directed by cameraman turned director PV Srinivasan and I play the lead, who's name is also Akhil!
Iruvar Ondranal is a college love story, produced by AM Sampath Kumar and directed by Anbu G. They are both former associates of AR Murugadoss. I play the second lead in a film with Prabhu and Kritika playing lead roles. Both projects have completed shooting and are in the finishing stages of post production
Did you notice any difference between Bollywood and Kollywood?
While the passion for film-making is a common thing in both the industries, the atmosphere on set is definitely different. While I enjoyed working in the rooted atmosphere of the Kollywood industry, it was also so refreshing to work in the corporate framework of Bollywood. They are both so unique and awesome in their own ways.
How difficult is it to juggle between two leading film industries of India?
Apart from travelling, the only difficulty is being a local. I speak both Hindi and Tamil, but if I spend a lot of time in either Mumbai or Chennai, it naturally affects my accent while speaking the other language! It takes a day for that to settle down. But honestly, that's a happy problem that I'm happy to endure as I would love to work in both industries.