Actor Siddharth doesn’t believe in soft-serving his thoughts. The actor, who has a sizable number of followers, and trenchant critics, on social media, has the same persona in real world too. As the Hindi debate rages on, the actor points to an uncomfortable truth. “If a character is from a non-Hindi speaking belt, we have a habit of making them a caricature,” Siddharth says. The actor was speaking about playing Krishna Rangaswamy in Disney+ Hotstar’s Escaype Live. A Kannadiga man, he stands by his roots when his colleague calls him a Malayali, in the web show’s trailer.
“From the age of comedians, (we had) actors like Mehmood who made unrealistic and strange portrayals which were very popular at that time. But today, you feel odd watching them. There was Mithun Chakraborty playing some Krishnan Iyer and selling coconut water. In those days liberties were taken in the name of entertainment. All these are cliches. That’s not how people speak. Today, if I do anything like that to a Kannada or a Kashmiri character, social media will have a field day,” he said in an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com.
Siddharth is returning to a Hindi project with his latest digital series Escaype Live. Set in contemporary India, the nine-episode series explores the lives of six people, as they struggle to win fame and fortune on a social media app. The actor plays a righteous guy who calls out powerful people who use their privilege to make profits.
“Let’s say we came up with this very pertinent and timely concept,” Siddharth told us, stating that he took up the project as it revolved around the way social media has taken over our lives. “Escaype Live tells how social media is the same monster that impacts everybody, be it poor or rich, where you have a choice to react and how you do that,” he said.
Though he called his Krishna Rangaswamy, completely opposite to him, he stated that the difference gave him a chance to play the character with a judgement. “Even if you don’t agree with the character, you play him with empathy. I had to see how Krishna Rangaswamy looks in the mirror. He becomes the audience’s point of view. That was challenging.”
Siddharth, who’s often faced online trolling, was embroiled in a controversy after a tweet on badminton player Saina Nehwal. He opined that the biggest danger is when it becomes an addiction and the user becomes so vulnerable that they fail to realise what’s right and wrong. “And just like you tell a child what’s a good touch and a bad touch, we even need to tell them what’s good social media and bad social media.”
The actor called it “an anonymous battlefield” as one never knows who’s attacking you. According to him, it is a platform to gain attention, “and you’re even ready to throw money into it. That becomes the dark side,” he added.
But how does Siddharth protect his sanity when he becomes the centre of trolls and hateful speech? “Because I’m a celebrity and I’m in public eye, we come across millions of people who consume every word we speak. Whether they are real or bots, we don’t know. They tell us what we should do and what we shouldn’t. You have to be the bigger and more powerful hand in this relationship with social media. And in my life, if something good is not happening, I step back,” he said.