Thambi Vettothi Sundaram will be out on Friday and Karan is breathing easy. Read on to know more …

Press meets, exhortations, contentions and counters – the past week has seen curiosity-kindling drama preceding the release of Thambi Vettothi Sundaram. Hungama that could actually work in the film's favour! The filmgoer's curiosity has been aroused enough!

“We are not here to hurt sentiments or create controversies. We've made a beautiful love story of a strong-willed man who lived on the Kerala-Tamil Nadu border, and we want all filmgoers to come and watch it,” says Karan. He went into hibernation after a spate of run-of-the mill character roles, resurrected himself as hero in his second innings with Kokki, and continues to make a mark as an actor whose films can never wholly disappoint. Thambi Vettothi Sundaram is his next. “When director Vadivudaiyaan first met me with the story, I was impressed. But I suggested he get back to me after he had worked on the screenplay.” With years of experience in the industry, Karan knows that a convincing line doesn't always translate into an absorbing screenplay. “Exactly — and when the treatment goes awry all the effort comes to nought,” he observes. “But when Vadivu returned in a couple of months and narrated the order of events he had planned, including the song placements, I was bowled over.”

Real-life character

This is the first time that Karan is playing a real-life character. “Yeah, so I've been very careful that people see me as Vettothi Sundaram on screen and not as Karan. Only then can I consider having succeeded as the film's hero,” he says. The homework involved learning the body language typical to the belt and also the Tamil dialect that has a distinct Malayalam twang. “Marthandam Tamizh as they call it. This is the first time a Tamil film has been made here.”

Vadivudaiyaan has trained under director Shaji Kailash and within two days of shooting, Karan could gauge that the man knew his job. He enlightened Karan about the place and its people. “When he told me about the unbelievable crime statistics of the area which boasts of cent per cent literacy rate, I found it intriguing,” says Karan. Only when he went for the shoot did he realise it's a very different way of life out there. “People are tougher, bolder, stronger.”

The period just after a person completes his education and till he finds a foothold can be trying. TVS tackles the tension a young man at this stage of life undergoes. Then why has the seemingly innocuous story created a furore? “Problems started even during the shooting of the film. Some of them felt we could be tarnishing the reputation of their land. We explained to them that their surmise was baseless. Every story has a villain. There's one in TVS too. That's it. I'm sure if they watch the film they'll understand that their fears were unfounded.”

Anjali, who is slowly emerging as the best bet for performance-oriented roles, is the heroine. “Spontaneity is her strength. She transforms herself into the character she plays,” commends Karan. “Saravanan is another actor who bolsters the show.”

On live locations

TVS has been in the making for more than a year. “The shooting went on for 93 days. We had four schedules. And as the filming was mostly on live locations — in crowded places and amidst traffic snarls in Nagercoil and Thiruvananthapuram — there were days when we could hardly complete a single scene. At Thookam Thiruvizha, the annual fest at the Bhagavathy Amman Temple in Kollangode, where more than five lakh devotees had converged, we could can just three shots in a day. But Vadivudaiyaan went about it patiently without compromising on the kind of shots he wanted. Again post-production took quite a while. Music composer Vidyasagar wanted 24 days for the RR alone, and Vadivudaiyaan willingly agreed. The wait has been worth it and the songs are equally great.” That veteran Vidyasagar and verse specialist Vairamuthu have come together for the music component of TVS is an added allure. “It's nearly three months since the film was completed. We were waiting for a suitable time for release, and then, of course, we had a few hiccoughs,” smiles Karan.

Karan is confident that TVS would take him to the next level in Tamil cinema. “You may like or dislike Sundaram. But at least for 24 hours after the film you can't push him out of your thoughts. He's bound to impact,” he says.