STR opens up to udhav naig on his upcoming films Vaalu and Vettai Mannan, his Love Anthem and being comfortable with his image

In this day and age when celebrities hire PR firms to carefully carve out their image in the media, Silambarasan’s ‘headline-worthy’ answers, are still refreshing. I say this after spending 15 minutes interviewing him inside the cool comfort of the caravan in which Silambarasan, who prefers the tag ‘STR’ these days, calmly answers questions. What is that that makes people think he is a person who lacks respect for others? “I think the reason I am called arrogant is because I speak from my heart.”

The negative labels have been part of his journey in Kollywood, be it when he turned scriptwriter for Manmadhan at a young age or when he recently released a single titled Love Anthem for‘unity, love and humanity’. “When I wrote the script for Manmadhan I never thought age was an issue. I did it because I thought I could pull it off,” he says. The Love Anthem, however, garnered criticism on social networks and in certain sections of the press, he says. “Frankly, I was really surprised. They said I was doing it to compete with Dhanush who had released ‘Kolaveri’ at that time, while I was just trying to do an international track to spread the message of love. I couldn’t understand why people were comparing two different actors and personalities, in the first place!”

Does the constant bad press affect him? “When it happens over time it does begin to have its effects. I am no exception,” he says bluntly. There were encouraging signs of this negativity declining after his collaboration with filmmaker Gautam Vasudev Menon for Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya. Silambarasan became a desirable lover boy overnight. “I can feel the way things have changed for the better,” smiles Simbu. “Films can change a lot of things.” The success of the film allowed him to rebrand himself as a modern and stylish hero. He followed it up with two un-Simbu-ish films such as Vaanam (in which he shared screen space with other notable stars) and Poda Podi, which was slightly experimental, considering its primary target audience was the urban middle class.

His next couple of films, Vaalu and Vettai Mannan, which are being filmed at the moment, are what he calls “commercial films”. I ask him if he plays a college student, he says, “In Vaalu, I don’t play a college student but I fall in love with one, and Vettai Mannan is a gangster story that deals with themes of friendship and loyalty.” Does that mean Simbu is reverting to mass masala films? “I am a person who listens to my heart.”The actor also cites ‘listening to his heart’ as the reason he spontaneously decided to wish the students of Loyola College who protested against war crimes in Sri Lanka. “I didn’t call my friends or the press. I just went there without really thinking about the repercussions. I thought it was the right thing to do.” After making headlines by roping in international singer Akon, certain sections of the press said he would be collaborating with Rihanna. “I don’t know where these things come from! When I announced that I will rope in Akon for Love Anthem, everyone said it was impossible. Now, after I have made it happen, people are saying that I am going to work with Rihanna. I am looking to work with an international singer.”