Jagapathi Babu Says He's Tired Of Playing Villain: 'Don't Want Small Roles In Bollywood, My Self-Respect Is Too High'

Jagapathi Babu Says He's Tired Of Playing Villain: 'Don't Want Small Roles In Bollywood, My Self-Respect Is Too High'

Jagapathi Babu opens up on working in Bollywood, setbacks in his career, the Hindi vs South debate, and more

Sagarika Choudhary Updated: Saturday, April 13, 2024, 12:23 PM IST
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Jagapathi Babu, who is one of the most loved 'baddies' down South, has now set foot in Bollywood, and after making his Hindi debut with Salman Khan's Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan, he is now gearing up for the release of Aayush Sharma's Ruslaan. In a candid chat with The Free Press Journal, the Guntur Kaaram actor opens up on working in Bollywood, setbacks in his career, the Hindi vs South debate, and more. Excerpts:

Tell us about your role in Ruslaan?

It's been very long that I've played a cop on screen, so Ruslaan was quite refreshing as I am playing a man in uniform. I look quite good as a cop and the reason I believe this is because if I would not have been an actor, I actually would've been a cop. So now I get to be a police at least in my reel life if not in my real life.

You're known for your negative roles in Telugu cinema. Do you wish to carry that legacy in Bollywood too?

First of all, I'm not a hero or a villain. I've also played positive roles in the Telugu industry but I've been branded as a villain. Eventually, I'm an actor, and of course, I want to try different kinds of roles. I'm tired of playing the villain now because it has become monotonous. I'm very particular about coming up with a new look for every character I play but there are only so many looks that one can try ultimately. So now, I'm open to playing different characters and exploring new facets of my personality through those characters.

Kisi Ka Bhai Kisi Ki Jaan was well packaged and promoted but it tanked at the box office. What has been your takeaway from the setback?

Honestly, for me, the film was not about the commercials but about the experience. I worked with Salman Khan in my first Bollywood film and that itself was a treat. But with Ruslaan, I will get a name and more exposure here. And that is why I'm waiting for the release of Ruslaan before signing any other film so that I get proper recognition. I don't want to be offered small roles; I want roles which are my worth, and only then can I grow. My self-respect is too high and I don't want to look down at myself so I'd rather wait for the best.

What is the one major difference between the Hindi and South film industries?

The aura. Mumbai ka aura. Bollywood is a big market and it has always been pan-world. South cinema came in much later into this pan-India, pan-world scene. What I love the most about Bollywood is that whether you're rich or poor, or you have just two pairs of clothes, if you dress well and present yourself well in front of the camera, you're good to go. The dignity of labour is too high here.

There is also this raging Hindi vs South debate today. What are your thoughts about that?

The world is round. Today, you're at the top, tomorrow you might not be. This hype around the word 'south' has actually spoilt our industry. Everybody there thinks they're the greatest. When SS Rajamouli works, he works so hard and he is such a visionary that he is sure to deliver. But now, everyone thinks they are Rajamouli. Just because the 'south' film industry has gotten a boost because of some films doesn't mean everyone is good down there or everyone is bad in Bollywood.

Do you consider the opinion of your fans before signing a project?

I don't really care about the opinion of fans. I do care about them and I am forever thankful for the love that they shower upon me, but as far as their opinion is concerned, it is always biased, because they think from only their point of view. So the decision to do a film or not is always mine. Good, bad or ugly, I am ready to take it upon myself, but I'll never take someone else's opinion to decide the kind of work that I should do.

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