Fun-loving Arya is always keen on pushing his boundaries as an actor. His Settai, the remake of Delhi Belly, is set for release this April.
He has to be the funniest, happiest and lightest actor in show biz in this part of the world. He’s always laughing, joking and giving his co-stars more importance than himself, not just when he’s giving interviews. He comes with absolutely none of those old-world star trappings. No name tag, ego or self-importance.
It’s been a long while since he’s had a release — his last film was Vettai that came out during Pongal 2012 — but Arya is not a wee bit worried about it. He has been working on four exciting projects. Irandaam Ulagam with Selvaraghavan, the Delhi Belly remake Settai with R. Kannan, Raja Rani with director Atlee and Vishnuvardhan's new film tentatively titled Valai with Ajith.
He’s also one of the few stars who has been supremely confident of sharing the limelight with other actors, film after film. While Boss Engira Baskaran had equal roles for him and Santhanam, he shared Bala's Avan Ivan with Vishal, Vettai with R. Madhavan and now Settai with Santhanam and Premgi and Valai with Ajith!
“I am carrying the burden all by myself in Irandaam Ulagam to make up for all that. It's a double role,” he laughs. “But seriously, as long as the script works... It's the output that matters.”
Despite coming across as full of fun and laughs, Arya is also one of those rare actors who is always keen on doing different kinds of films. If he did all these mass entertainers, he also did Vijay's period romance Madrasapattinam and Bala's gritty Naan Kadavul to experiment and push his boundaries as an actor.
He maintains that his next release Settai (releasing April first week) is a story of all three boys and Arya will once again be seen with Santhanam, who stole the show in Boss.
“You always want him to overshadow you for the joke to work. Comedy is never solo. I support him so that the punchline works. If I say my punchline has to be better, the film won't work. Santhanam will obviously stand out, but the film is about all three people. You will see a very different Premgi in this film,” says Arya.
How much of the adult comedy from Delhi Belly has been toned down for the Tamil audience? Is he worried that the film will work minus all that made it work?
“We have completely taken off the swearing parts. There is an extended role for the character played by Santhanam, and we have made Premgi's track more about friendship... Even the bedroom scene is there but we have toned it down so that family audiences and kids can watch without feeling uncomfortable,” he explains.
Settai at 130 minutes is also about half hour longer than the Hinglish original with three extra songs and extended comedy scenes. “We work in the same office unlike in the original film. We wanted to focus on friendship between the three guys living together and working for a Tamil newspaper in Mumbai.”
Why Mumbai? “Because in Chennai, for the same rent, three journalists will be able to afford a very nice place and the setting had to be dingy with a background of gangsters. It really wouldn't have worked in Triplicane. In Mumbai, the best of people live in dingy places.”
“I was earlier apprehensive of how Delhi Belly would work in Tamil, but once I heard Kannan's narration I was convinced. He is a very good director; he lets his actors breathe... He is always open to ideas and he got the best out of us. We rehearsed, had so much fun on the sets. Santhanam comes to the set with 10 different versions of a scene. We call him the factory. We had to control Premgi from laughing and make sure that the jokes never went overboard. Now that I have seen the film while dubbing, I can say it has come out very well.”
While Selvaraghavan's Irandaam Ulagam is a fantasy film, Atlee's Raja Rani is a romantic comedy with Nayantara and Jai, and Vishnuvardhan's film with Ajith is a stylish action entertainer.
“We just have a song shoot left for Irandaam Ulagam. So that will release midyear and the other two — Raja Rani and Valai — are about 50 per cent complete. I have been working continuously for the last year without a break.”