Meet Bandish Bandits’ ‘Digvijay Rathod’ aka Atul Kulkarni who is blazing new trails on OTT platforms

After entertaining his fans for over two decades and having done over 90 films, National Award-winning actor Atul Kulkarni is best known for his diverse roles and his outstanding performances
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The web series Bandish Bandits that was recently released on Amazon Prime touched the hearts of a global audience with its unusual storyline and dazzling soundtrack. Starring veteran actor Naseeruddin Shah as Pandit Radhemohan Rathod, Bandish Bandits draws a beautiful contrast between classical and pop music as the love story of music prodigy, Radhe (Ritwik Bhowmik) and popstar Tamanna (Shreya Chaudhary) unfolds.

Actor Atul Kulkarni

The story takes a dramatic turn when Digvijay Rathod (played by Atul Kulkarni) marks his entry by challenging Pandit Radhe Mohan Rathod to a musical duel. 

Known for doing strong and aggressive roles, Atul Kulkarni surprises his fans by playing the role of a soft-hearted artist, Digvijay Rathod. 

In an exclusive interview with YSWeekender, Atul Kulkarni spoke about his role in Bandish Bandits, his journey in the film industry so far and how OTT is transforming the entertainment arena. 

Marathi films to Bollywood 

Atul has been passionate about acting ever since his first acting stint on stage when he was in school. In 1995, he graduated from the National School of Drama (NSD) and got into theatre.

Atul says that he never intended to make into Bollywood but in the late 90s, while he was doing a Marathi play in Mumbai, actor Kamal Haasan saw his work and offered him the role in the film, Hey Ram

“I didn’t have a dramatic entry to Bollywood. Kamal Haasan liked my work in a Marathi play and he offered me a role in Hey Ram. Later, Madhur Bhandarkar saw my work in Hey Ram and signed me for Chandni Bar. This is where my journey began,” says Atul. 

Atul has won National Awards Best Supporting Actor for both Hey Ram and Chandni Bar and has been a part of the Indian film fraternity for over two decades. He has done over 90 films in Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, and other languages. 

Today, Atul has been mesmerising his fans with his commendable work on OTT, in series like the recently released Bandish Bandits, The Raikar Case, City of Dreams, Baahubali: Before the Beginning and many other films. 

OTT vs Box Office: What we must know

In the last few years, Over-the-Top (OTT) platforms have widely gained prominence. With Netflix and Amazon Prime dominating the Indian market, platforms like Hotstar, Zee5, Voot, Alt Balaji have left consumers spoilt for choice. 

Atul Kulkarni on the sets of Bandish Bandits

When asked whether the OTTs are giving actors more recognition to actors and making success easier for them than cinema, Atul says,

“If you watch a web series like Bandish Bandits, it is a series of 10 episodes of 45 minutes each. This is about 500 minutes of content, unlike movies which are shorter. The format of cinema and OTT is completely different. Hence, there is no comparison between the two and we should not get confused.”

When it comes to whether the OTT platform is offering easy entry to aspiring actors, Atul says that this industry is different from any other business. “When the options are greater, people get more work. It is just the simple mathematics of abundance," he explains.

Future projects

Over 10 years ago, Atul Kulkarni wrote the script for Aamir Khan’s upcoming movie ‘Laal Singh Chaddha’ which was slated to release during Christmas. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the production was delayed and the movie might release next year.

Atul says he wrote the script as an adaption of the Hollywood movie ‘Forrest Gump. However, they didn’t get rights for the film for almost eight years. A few years ago, after they were given the rights, Aamir Khan Productions began the production work. The film stars Aamir Khan in the title role with Kareena Kapoor, Vijay Sethupathi (in his Hindi film debut) and Mona Singh.

Atul’s fan can also look out for Season 2 of Nagesh Kukunoor’s City of Dreams

(Images credit: Atul Kulkarni's Instagram)

Edited by Asha Chowdary

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