With Alex Pandian set to roll out this week, Karthi shares details about the film with Malathi Rangarajan
It’s an imposing title that any Tamil hero should find intimidating! Some decades ago, Moondru Mugam had Rajnikanth playing the fearless cop, Alex Pandian. The name caught on and till today it is synonymous with the superstar. For a hardcore Rajni fan, the character is almost a cult figure. I can’t help pointing it out to Karthi. “I realise the responsibility that comes with the name of our film, and we’ve slogged it out to satisfy filmgoers,” he says. His Alex Pandian is releasing on January 12. “A perfect festival treat,” Karthi vouches for the entertainment quotient of AP. “We planned it for the festive season.” For Pongal? “Not exactly, originally it was to be for Ayudha Puja.” Now that AP is all set to roll out, Karthi is only too happy to talk about the experience. “People are used to seeing Santhanam as the hero’s friend. But in Alex Pandian you will only witness inimicality between us. He has three sisters in the film and his job is to safeguard them from my eyes, 24X7,” chuckles Karthi. “You will never see him laugh. But his serious demeanour will keep you in stitches. Dialogue is another highpoint of these scenes.”
Karthi’s choice of films shows a slant towards the commercial. “Come on, I began with Paruththi Veeran and followed it up with Aayirathil Oruvan, films that are a far cry from formula. So you can never pin me down on that,” he smiles. “That too four years on two films at a significant stage in my career. Passion for cinema is the reason,” he explains.
Yet after superhero subjects such as Paiyya, Naan Mahaan Alla and Siruthai, it was Saguni and now again AP, all in commercial mould. “I wish to alternate between high-octane action and realistic, down-to-earth subjects. So when Saguni came my way, the wily political game and the satirical overtones, I felt, would help the film shape up differently. Somewhere down the line it got completely commercial.” But Saguni did well at the BO. “There were even calls from places like Erode telling me that people enjoyed the film,” he adds.
After Siruthai’s success, Karthi got several offers to play cop. “Many of the stories had a strong base. Still I refrained from doing them only because the idea is to work in a variety of genres. “Even while working on Saguni, I had signed Alex Pandian, a potential treat for the masses. We are making no pretensions. Biriyani, my next, will be different from Alex Pandian.”
Karthi is particular that the screenplay and dialogue are in place before he takes a call on an assignment. “Suraaj, as you know, is a commercial director and when he came to me with AP, the line interested me. He went back and fine-tuned the narration. The nuances, alliterations and play on words in the dialogue are bound to draw the viewer.
“A film with scope for vibrant numbers should be right up Devi Sri Prasad’s alley. The composer teams up with Karthi for the first time. “I’ve been Devi’s fan ever since I heard his music of the Telugu hit, Arya. His energy flows into his music. All the songs in AP are peppy,” says Karthi. The ‘Bad Boy’ number is already a chartbuster.
Has the hero improved as a dancer? “That’s what people say,” he laughs. “But I keep working on it. These days, I don’t step out for song sequences without rehearsals.”
Anushka is the female lead of AP. Being very tall, the beauty must have been happy to work opposite a fairly tall hero. “She was,” he guffaws. “But I admire her adaptability to any situation at the work place. Generally, if it’s an evening shoot and the heroine has to have a change of costume, work is resumed only the next morning. But Anushka would find a niche somewhere in the vicinity and get dressed in five minutes flat!” Her role in AP won’t begin and end with duets. She is part of the action too. “It involved physically demanding chases, reverse driving, rolling down hills, diving into the waters, and Anushka did them all without a murmur. Her commitment is amazing,” Karthi is all admiration for his heroine.
He sounds very prudent when he says that he goes ahead with action sequences only when he is confident. “I think that’s the smart thing to do,” he says. “Yet this time I’ve done some dangerous stunts, like the one on a running train, because I knew I could pull it off,” he pauses for a moment and goes on, “and also because we couldn’t afford safety measures that are fool proof.”
Karthi has the reputation of providing neat entertainers. “I’m proud of it. My films are for the entire family and Alex Pandian isn’t an exception,” he says.