A tete-a-tete with Indian actor and producer Suniel Shetty

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A tete-a-tete with Indian actor and producer Suniel Shetty – “I will support India at Mohali tomorrow” says Suniel Shetty

Mangalore has produced many celebrities in the world of visual arts and among them, the most visible have been our film stars; and when they come from the glamorous world of Bollywood, they bring with them an aura of star appeal that is by and large irresistible to the general public.

One of the most vibrant communities in Mangalore the Bunt Community has perhaps contributed the maximum number of film stars to Bollywood and Mangalore is especially proud of them. Suniel Shetty is one such star who despite having spent nearly 20 years in the film industry remains to date a humble son of the soil.

Born on August 11, 1961, in Mulki near Mangalore, Suniel Shetty initially did Bollywood films that stereotyped him as an action hero. Over the years, he has given his share of hits as well as flops but more recently he has been showing his acting prowess in an entirely different category; that of comedy. Undoubtedly he has grown as an actor and today dons many roles in real life that of an actor, businessman, family man and loyal friend to many. Affectionately known as Anna or elder brother he is exactly that to all his ardent admirers, many of them fellow Mangaloreans.

On the morning of March 29th, Suniel Shetty spoke exclusively to mangalorean.com and answered a few of our questions. He said it was imperative that he left for Mumbai today as he had full plans of being there at Mohali to cheer the Indian Cricket Team tomorrow. However, despite his hectic travel schedule he was in his usual charming self and answered all our questions very patiently.

Q: You are going to complete 50 yrs in August this year. But you don’t look like you are about to hit a half-century. How do you manage to maintain your physique? Do you have a strict physical fitness routine?

Suniel: Yes, physical fitness means a lot to me. I believe that feeling physically fit and having control of our own body will improve our mental health. Whatever I am today is because I maintain a strict physical fitness regime. I am very strict with my food habits and I exercise a lot to keep myself fit.

Q: You are popularly known as Anna meaning elder brother. How did you get this name?

Suniel: It is because of my relationships within the film industry. Sanjay Dutt and I are in very good terms and I have received all the love and affection from him. In the film Industry, Sunjay Dutt is called Baba, Salman Khan as Bhai, Jackie Shroff as Dada, and Suniel Shetty is called Anna. I like to be named Anna because most of the people from the film Industry call me “Anna” because they think of me as an elder brother.

Q:  What made you to join the film industry?

Suniel: I was practicing Karate and tried my best to be good in action-oriented roles. When the opportunity came to me I grabbed it with both hands.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your family? Your roots in Mangalore?

Suniel: I am from Mulky Padumane. I was brought up in Mumbai but I spent my entire childhood holidays in Mulky and Bappanadu was my playground. Bappanadu Temple is still my prayer place. My parents are from Mulky and I was born in Mulky.

Q: You are both a businessman and an actor. Which profession is closer to your heart? Do you prefer to be known as Suniel the businessman or Suniel the actor?

Suniel: Suniel the actor made Suniel the businessman. I am not doing more movies now. In twenty years of acting, I have acted in 125 movies. My next film ‘Thank You’, (a comedy and romance) movie will be released on 8th April 2011. I would love to continue as an actor, but my business interests will always remain.

Q:  What are your business interests in your hometown Mangalore? Do we know you own a hotel and a clothing line here? Can you tell us more about it?

Suniel: The Clothing line Mischief and Hotel in Mangalore are no longer mine. I wanted to do something in my hometown Mangalore and so I have invested in the Mega Malls. Right now I am involved only with the Mega Malls.

Q:  We have heard that you have a black belt in Kick Boxing. Where did you learn this?

Suniel: Yes, I learnt kickboxing in Mumbai and I have a black belt in it. It not only helps me to keep fit but it’s also useful when I do my action scenes.

Q: You have done all kinds of roles in Bollywood films, Drama, Action, and Patriotic. You have been a soldier, villain, action hero, romantic hero, etc, what kind of role do you feel most comfortable in?

Suniel: Yes, I am happy that I have done all kinds of roles in Bollywood films. It has been a wonderful experience to work as an action hero, romantic hero, soldier, and even a villain, but I like to work best in patriotic films. This is where I feel I am playing a real-life hero, one that is closest to reality. This is why I like J P Dutta films.

Q:  You have given one of your biggest hits ‘Dhadkan’ with fellow Mangalorean Shilpa Shetty. We had heard talk of two films with another Mangalorean Aishwarya Rai. Except for a guest appearance in ‘Kyon Ho Gaya Na,’ the other films didn’t happen?

Suniel: Yes, both the films with Aishwarya had problems; the director and the producers had issues within themselves. Because of the misunderstanding between the producer and director the films did not work out. I regret this as both Aishwarya and Shilpa, being fellow bunts are my favourite persons in the industry.

Q:  Who is your all-time favorite heroine?

Suniel: My favourite heroines are not one but many. My all-time favourites are Nargis, Kajol, Shilpa Shetty, and Aishwarya Rai. They have all done a very good job in the film industry.

Q:  Your favourite male co-star?

Suniel: Sunjay Dutt is my all-time favourite male co-star.

Q:  Like all other Indians, I am sure you too are a big fan of Cricket. Any comments on the forthcoming India/Pakistan match?

Suniel: Yes, I am leaving to Mohali tomorrow to watch the cricket match between India and Pakistan and I am hoping against hope that India will definitely win this match. Let’s hope for the best.

Q: How often do you travel to Mangalore? What is it about Mangalore that you like the best? What is it about Mangalore you would like to change for the better?

Suniel: I like Mangalore a lot not only because I come from Mangalore but because Mangalore has so many things to like. I love the food and the lovely people who are so hardworking. I love the fantastic beaches, the number of temples here, and the hospitality that comes so naturally to everyone. There is always scope for improvement and I think Mangalore should improve in some fields like continuous electricity, infrastructure, and more connectivity.

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