Sundarapandian will arrive soon and Sasikumar is revved up about playing a romantic hero for the first time.

Half a dozen films in four years! Impressive statistics indeed! The achiever, Sasikumar, is multi-faceted — writer, director, actor and producer. But for his maiden effort, Subramaniapuram, which he produced, directed and acted in as hero, Sasikumar prefers to don just a couple of hats at a time. The runaway hit, Subramaniapuram, made Sasikumar a dependable filmmaker on the firmament. Now Sundarapandian, Sasikumar’s seventh — he is its producer and hero — begins its theatrical run on September 14. The film in which, his assistant, S.R. Prabhakaran, makes his bow as director.

As a producer, is it a wise move to go with a new director for Sundarapandian? “Why not,” he counters. “Everyone is new at some point in time. As for Prabhakaran, I liked his approach, or rather, non-approach.” Though Prabhakaran had been working under Sasi, when he wrote a story to be made into a film, he didn’t ask his mentor for an opportunity. It was when a producer mentioned to Sasikumar that his assistant had come to him with a good line that he got to know about it. “I was surprised. ‘I’m a producer too and yet you didn’t come to me for a chance. I like your attitude, let’s do a film,’ I said, and Sundarapandian was born,”

“I prefer not to write stories for myself,” laughs Sasikumar as we get talking about Sundarapandian. “And when I act I feel others should direct me,” he says.

Moderate or stupendous it may be, but success has never really eluded Sasi. Easan is probably the only exception! Subramaniapuram helped Sasikumar reach the topmost rung of popularity, when it did well in other States such as Kerala, and made him accept a role in a Malayalam film. “Masters was my way of thanking the Kerala audience for supporting Subramaniapuram,” he reasons.

Introducing new talent

Not just Prabhakaran, Sasikumar’s penchant for introducing new technicians and not-oft seen actors in his films is quite noticeable. “Producer R.B. Chowdhary is the inspiration. Silently he’s been introducing several aspirants in so many areas of filmmaking. I haven’t met him, yet I wish to toe his line and bring in as many talents to cinema as possible,” says Sasi. Again, his next two films as hero are being directed by first-timers, Muthiah and Socrates. “Sometimes people try to dissuade me from it, but I’m clear in my decisions. When I go out of cinema I should see at least ten of my introductions doing well in the field.” The words are intriguing because Sasi, whose launch in cinema happened quite recently, is a youngster himself!

Fun all the way

His films are synonymous with bloody action and extreme violence. He stops me midway through the observation smiling: “I know what you’re driving at. Sundarapandian will be entirely different. A family entertainer with an ample dose of comedy and action, I assure you.”

Prabhakaran told Sasikumar, “Family audiences like you a lot, so I have a plot that will appeal to them and to all other sections of viewers as well.” Thus Sundarapandian will showcase father-son relationship, with elements of friendship and love thrown in. “And when I describe it as a family tale, don’t think it’s going to be a sob saga. Sundarapandian is fun all the way,” he chuckles. “For once, my film is not a serious take on life. Yet Prabhakaran does make a point about our culture and values.”

Vijay Sethupathi, the hero of some well known films such as Thenmaerkku Paruvakaatru, Inigo, again a reasonably well-known actor, and Appu Kutty play Sasikumar’s friends in S. But actors such as Sethupathi are solo hero material! “The choice of cast was Prabhakaran’s. He has brought in actors who suit the role. I was very happy when they said, ‘We wish to be a part of your film, whatever the role is,’” smiles Sasi. “And they have acquitted themselves well.”

The multi-faceted Samudirakani is a significant name in Sasikumar’s ventures. But does he have anything to do with Sundarapandian? “Kani is the one, who kick-started Sundarapandian. We are inseparable,” he says.

The stills of Sundarapandian seem to showcase Sasikumar as a romantic hero. “Yeah, for a change, I play an ardent lover in S. I have a duet and I’ve tried dancing,” he laughs. Lakshmi Menon, the leading lady of Kumki, is paired with Sasi. “She understands Tamil and speaks the language too. She’s a heroine worth looking out for,” commends the hero.

What else about S? “Its entertainment quotient should work. It’s flowers all the way, and an emphatic ‘no’ to knives and sickles this time,” he guffaws.