American-born Indian actor Dileep Rao is only three films old, but his movie career has panned out like a ‘dream’. After debuting with Spiderman director Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell and following it up with legendary director James Cameron’s Avatar, Rao will now be seen playing a pivotal role in The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan’s Inception.Ask him if it matters at all what role he is offered in movies directed by such distinguished names, and he confesses, "Not at all! I’m just honoured to work with these directors. But let me admit, when I first read the script of Inception, it actually took me time to understand the complexity of my character."
Chris not complex
“At the same time, though Chris is one of the smartest guys I have met, I wouldn’t call him complex,” Rao says. “He is just meticulous in planning the movie. He internalises the script so well and that’s why it has so many dimensions.”
In the movie, Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Dom Cobb is a thief who can steal secrets from people’s dream, while Rao plays Yusuf, a chemist, who creates a drug compound to enable this. Incidentally, Rao also played a scientist-cum-doctor in Avatar, and these characters are in line with his original choice of a medical career.
“It’s just a passive coincidence,” Rao chuckles. “My background as a pre-med helps me in understanding the technical aspects, but I think it’s the human interactions that really matter in movies.”
The actor, who originally came to Hollywood to become a writer, reveals that he is in the middle of scripting, and his personal projects will star Indian actors. “I’m fascinated by my own background – how I came to be where I am right now, and my derivative Indian culture in America,” he says. “I have ideas that will deal with that, but I also enjoy writing big-budget, Avatar-like movies, where the race of the characters doesn’t matter.”
Ask him if we’ll see the script of one of those movies if his dreams were intruded into, and he laughs, “My dreams don’t make sense. You’ll probably see me eating a fancy meal, with jugglers in the background, but I’ll still be so scared that I’ll wake up!”