Wednesday, November 29, 2006

‘My first love: conservation of ecology’

‘My first love: conservation of ecology’
From banker to marketing professional, an actor to a filmmaker and finally an environmentalist, Suresh Heblikar has donned several roles. He speaks to G S Kumar about his experiences
The Times of India

I was born in Dharwad: My father Balakrishna, a landlord, was a voracious reader who had a good collection of English novels. He was also highly emotional and a chain smoker. He had a misplaced streak of generosity and gave land and money to many friends. He was called Bapu Saheb. But I lost him when I was just 15. My mother Rukmini Bai was a housewife and highly traditional. I was the youngest of four brothers and three sisters and was pampered a lot. We got the name Heblikar as we lived in a place called Hebballi.
I always quarrelled with my elder brother: He was very short-tempered. As youngsters, we used to make a lot of noise at home. Once I whipped him when everyone had gone out. My mother took me to task but there was no end to our quarrel even after that.
We celebrated Deepavali and Ganesha festival grandly: My father used to get us new clothes and we children decorated the house with lamps. We’d burst crackers for one week with relatives, who also prepared delicious sweets. I can never forget how we’d to get the Ganesha idol from a teacher called Badiger Master who made very good idols.
I loved solitude: I began my education in the Presentation Convent School in Dharwad and later joined Basel Mission High School. I completed my degree from Karnatak College and post-graduation from Karnatak University. I was an average student and poor in mathematics. When I was seven, I’d bunk classes and wander around in a field. There was a big tree near our house. Sometimes, I would lie under it and watch the sky wondering what was there beyond it. I loved solitude. I can never forget the way I learnt swimming in Kelgeri tank with my friends and teachers. The water was so clean that I used to go deep into the lake to see the bottom. A nun at school loved me very much and would kiss me affectionately. I was very moved by her gesture.
Five of us formed a group: One of them was Vinayaka Bendre, the nephew of the poet Da Ra Bendre. He’d take us out for snacks and coffee and spend a lot of money. I wondered how he got the money. Then I came to know that Bendre, before leaving home, would pray and keep some change in front of the deity. Vinayaka stole it and treated us. We were very mischievous in class and were always punished. We were either made to stand on a bench or sent out of class. We were also beaten often by the teachers.
I was good at studies in college: I joined Karnatak College and studied Anthropology, Political Science and Economics. I was very serious about studies. I loved literature and read works of great writers like Russell. When I was 14, my father presented me Maxim Gorky’s novel Mother. I could not understand many words so I referred to a dictionary but managed to read it in six months. I still remember how my father would read novels at night and tell my mother and me stories in the morning.
I chose Economics for my Masters: I had the fortune of being taught by D M Nanjundappa. My life opened up to different worlds like theatre, films and other cultural activities on campus. Prof K G Mahale, a French teacher, changed my life. I took part in debates and acted in plays. Mahale found that I was a good actor and encouraged me to take interest in films. As a student, I watched a lot of English movies in theatres and also at festivals organised on campus. I was very much impressed by a French movie The Wages of Fear and that changed my life.
I became a theatreperson: After completing my Masters, I joined a bank in Bangalore and worked there for a year. I started a magazine called Bhu Vikasa and the writer Niranjana helped me write articles. After a year, I quit the job and went to Mumbai and did a Diploma in Marketing & Advertising. I worked in marketing for six years but I was not happy with the job. I realised I wasn’t cut out for this, quit the job and came back to Bangalore. I got in touch with B V Karanth, C R Simha, Make-up Nani, Ashok Mandanna and took interest in staging and acting in plays. I joined Bangalore Little Theatre (BLT) to get more exposure. We used to paste posters the previous night, arrange the stage just before the play and get ready to act immediately. That was our level of enthusiasm.
I always had the urge to make films: I started by making short films with a few friends. We’d go to Brigade Road and shoot silent films. My friends would always ask me to speak to pretty girls on the road for a shot. I wrote stories for films, directed and acted in them. I made five short films. In 1980, my friend M B S Prasad who was directing the Kannada film Kankana cast me as a playboy. It was my big break. This was followed by Vaathsalya Patha, Aparichitha, Rushya Shrunga, Alemane and Amara Madhura Prema. I’ve acted in 30 Kannada movies. In 1983, I plunged into directing movies with Antharala, followed by Agunthaka, Kaadina Benki, Aaghatha, Chamathkara and Prathama Usha Kirana. While Kaadina Benki won the National Award, Prathama Usha Kirana won the Filmfare Award.
I always loved Nature: Though I directed films, my first love was conservation of ecology. I took an active part in the anti-Kaiga agitation and read about the Chernobyl incident at the same time. In 1998, I started Eco-watch to promote eco-awareness among the people. I also made short films — Great Indian Bustard, Tribals of B R Hills and Shepherds on the Move, which won a UN award. I am planning to set up an environment institute and a museum to promote ecology.
My wife Malathi was my first critic and guide: We were married in 1973. She always said I was good in films and that I should continue in that profession and she was right. She died in 1999. Our son Akshay is taking a keen interest in ecology and environment.


At Wednesday, October 17, 2007 at 1:28:00 AM GMT+5:30, Blogger Unknown said...

i am looking for my favourite song from "antharala" - "mareyalare samskruthi" . pl let me know where to find it online

At Sunday, September 21, 2008 at 7:10:00 PM GMT+5:30, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you have found it please let me know at

At Thursday, July 16, 2009 at 8:39:00 AM GMT+5:30, Blogger Sreesha said...

The VCD of AntharaaLa is out in the market longtime back. Go to any Calypso or Landmark outlet in Bangalore and I am sure you will get it. The song is there in the VCD for your reference. You can always get it recorded on a CD in a sound studio as MP3 and play it whenever you want it.

Heblikar is a gem.



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