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December 12, 2015

Desi Boys: Sendhil Ramamurthy

Text by Huzan Tata

Defying stereotypical roles in Hollywood, they have grabbed their slice of the spotlight by wowing audiences with their endearing acts on international screens. Actors Sendhil Ramamurthy, Kunal Nayyar and Suraj Sharma speak to Verve about their Indian roots, journeys to fame and dream runs

IN PURSUIT OF HEROISM
Sendhil Ramamurthy

Bollywood buffs would probably remember him as the NRI from Shor in the City, but for the world, he’s Mohinder Suresh. The Heroes actor Sendhil Ramamurthy, who hails from a family of doctors, intended to work in the medical field himself — but after an acting course at Tufts University, he ditched the doctor’s robe for life in front of the camera. “Working is my vacation. I never feel like I need to stop working. Even if the project doesn’t turn out as you hoped, the cast and crew are always there to lift you up,” says the 41-year-old.

Ramamurthy — who’s dabbled in television, theatre and films in the UK and USA — has a wish list when it comes to Indian cinema as well. “It has always been a dream to work with Irrfan Khan. I admire his work and choice of roles immensely. I would love to work with Raj Nidimoru and Krishna D. K. (directors, Shor in the City) again. They have been doing really well since Shor…if they ever wanted to do another movie together I would jump at the chance.” The actor, who believes it is easier today to land roles that defy stereotypes, will be seen reprising his character Suresh for a story arc in the mini-series Heroes Reborn, a sequel to Heroes. “I’ve seen bits of it and it looks impressive. It’s visually stunning…the new cast seems to be as excited as we were when we started. I hope fans enjoy it,” he shares.

For now, the USA-based star has his hands full, with comic book genius Stan Lee’s 10-part series Lucky Man premiering in 2016, and the film A Momentary Lapse Of Reason by Aditya Bhattacharya, for which he shot in Hyderabad last summer. “I seem to make it back to India once a year for some kind of work, whether it is interactions with the press or actual shooting. I hope to go back for more filming in the near future,” says Ramamurthy. Ask him to pick between the big screen, the idiot box and the stage, he says he enjoys each one equally, “but if I have to choose, it would be theatre, because there is immediate feedback from a live audience”.

Smart, suave and sexy, Ramamurthy is today one of the most recognised artistes of Indian origin. Surely he’s been spotted on the streets by swooning fans? “People are generally nice and just want to say ‘hi’ or take a quick picture. I enjoy greeting fans, but being a very private person it wasn’t always the case! After all, they’re the reason I get to do what I love to do and have the life I have. I’m grateful.”

Hailing from the Subcontinent — his parents are Tamil and Kannadiga  — the performer does keep up with what’s happening on this side of the globe. If he had to define India in one word? “Vast. Vast beauty, culture, intellect, poverty, wealth, untapped resources and widespread antiquated thinking about women and caste. I really think there is serious potential for India to be a world leader in the future…with all that India has to offer the world, it would be a shame if it isn’t able to overcome its current limitations, namely poverty and lack of education for the masses — girls in particular. One can solve the other.”

And though he’s Indian by heritage and American by birth, Ramamurthy’s outlook isn’t bound by borders. “If you care about others you are a global citizen in my book…. We should be taught from a young age that it’s not a burden to help others but something that is natural and to be celebrated.”

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