Suresh radiates a can-do optimism as he renews his lease with filmdom. A tete-a-tete with the actor

In the cosmetic world of make believe, Suresh comes across as a downright natural. “I can't live in the past,” confesses the actor, reacting to fans on Facebook, who write in to say they miss him in those chocolate hero roles of the 1980s. “It's time to reinvent myself and look for roles that suit my age.”

The actor who recently renewed his lease with fame through Vijay TV's “Kadhal Meter”, a show that makes a reality check of the compatibility quotient of celebrity couples from the television world, says it's exciting to return to the warmth of the arc lights. “It's my comfort zone. Besides, while anchoring, you are not acting. There's no need to hide behind a character. It's a lot more natural. Since the show features young, uppity couples, it's fun talking to them. Anecdotes from their love lives give me a been-there-done-that feeling, which is nice.”

Having played a dozen memorable lover boy roles in the Eighties, does Suresh still believe true, old-fashioned love exists in this fast-paced I-Me-Myself modern world? “Things have changed drastically in the love department. Today, there's a greater sense of individuality and independence among women. Men don't have the same set of expectations from women. Women, on the other hand, speak their mind and don't succumb to a life of submission. Relationships have evolved, it's important to go with the flow.”

No image trap

Incidentally, “Kadhal Meter”, which is on air twice a week (Fridays and Saturdays, at 10 p.m.), is not the only thing that's keeping the Panneer Pushpangal star busy. “I'm back to signing films and experimenting with roles,” says Suresh, whose recent Kollywood appearance was in the Arjun-starrer Vallakottai. He has about half-a-dozen upcoming releases in Tamil and Telugu. “I play a range of roles — from a maniacal antagonist to a jilted husband eager to wreak vengeance on his wife. As a hero, there's a formula you have to follow to succeed. But once you stop playing the lead, it's as if all the shackles have been removed. It's liberating. You are no longer in an image trap, so you can try out different roles and looks and add variety to your dossier,” says the actor, who went into a hiatus following a severe back injury.

Talk about his polished pate, and the smile is instantaneous, “It's something I did impulsively to look different. It's not going to be permanent. I will change when I feel like it. Some people like the new avatar, others don't.”

Having acted in over 260 films in all south Indian languages, Suresh's ability to slip into the skin of his characters is still his calling card. “As an actor, I like to surprise myself first, then the audience. Challenging roles energise me and help me discover new facets of my skill. I like to push the envelope and approach work with an open mind. I'm fascinated by the new wave of guerrilla filmmaking in Tamil cinema. It's so real and throbbing with emotions.”

When Suresh talks about producing television serials, you realise that behind the bald pate is a shrewd business mind ticking away. “I've already produced fairly successful serials in Telugu. The upcoming one is for a channel with good reach. But serial production is a totally different ball game. You need to give time and more time…”

Constantly in touch with fans through Facebook, the actor jokes, “I tell my friends to be on Facebook, you must be narcissistic or voyeuristic. Or a bit of both. I love log-ing in and catching up with people — particularly while waiting on the sets.” A pause later, he adds with ringing laughter, “As an actor, you wait 90 per cent and work only 10 per cent of the time!”

SHORT TAKES

MY PHILOSOPHY about life is: Live for today, don't think about tomorrow

ME TIME is about travelling and backpacking.

LOVE TO watch world cinema and go on long walks