In conversation Serious, philosophical and cheerful at once, Srikanth opens up on his career choices

What is happening to Srikanth these days? After a hiatus he came up with Indira Vizha, Tamil cinema's version of the oh-so-well made Disclosure, in which Srikanth replicated none other than Michael Douglas of the original and Akshay Kumar of the Hindi version, Aitraaz. But the intimate scenes involving Srikanth and Namita, were to say the least, shocking. It neither helped rev up the narration nor did it project its hero in a favourable light. “The promos looked very suggestive and I pleaded with them to pull me out of the ads,” Srikanth shrugs. He sounds disconcerted. Gone is the cheerfulness and zest that were a part of the earlier interactions I've had with him.

But it's not as though he's a novice in the field — he must be aware of what he's getting into. “I'm a director's actor and I go by what he says. After all, director Rajeshwar is a known name and I felt he would do justice to the film.” Nevertheless, half way through the project, when they were shooting in Malaysia, Srikanth had apprehensions and told the director that he wasn't quite happy with the way Indira Vizha was shaping up. “His reply was, ‘We'll work it out.' Generally, the words are euphemistic — nothing actually gets worked out. But despite disappointments I give my hundred per cent to every film I take up,” he says.

Then why did he take it up? “After Poo Sasi and I had planned a film called Imm … and we spent nearly a year on it. But finally when things didn't fructify I took this one up in haste. On hindsight, I realise I've not been too cautious,” he admits with candour. “All the same, just one hit, and your earlier gaffes are forgotten,” he adds.

Srikanth's debut in Roja Koottam catapulted him to the top slot straightway and films such as Parthiban Kanavu helped gain a firm foothold. The critically lauded Poo saw a dignified essay from Srikanth, though films such as Bose didn't help the actor much. “When I did Poo I didn't even ask director Sasi about my role or the story. He had launched me in Roja Koottam, and I knew he would do the best for me,” says Srikanth.

And when he entered Telugu cinema with a bang with Okkarikku Okkaru, the general opinion was that he'd really go places there. Having done his schooling in Hyderabad, Srikanth is conversant with the language. “True, my Telugu is good. I dub myself. Sadly, I couldn't cash in on my initial win because of a couple of accidents that I met with. But, till date, all my Telugu films have done good business,” he informs. Srikanth's recent Telugu films include a cameo in Adavari Matalukku Arthalu Verulae.

He doesn't adopt any hard and fast rule to sign on the dotted line. “Eventually, it is destiny,” he remarks. A director who suddenly appears on the sets, suited, booted and wigged, saying he was going to play the anti in the film, can shock a hero. Srikanth was no exception. “I'm not mentally prepared for such moves, though I tell myself I should be geared up for the unexpected. When the role which I was given to believe that an actor in the league of Nasser would do is going to be taken up by the director himself, I'm naturally puzzled,” says Srikanth. The reference is obviously to his recent release, Rasikkum Seemanae.

It's not as though Srikanth is against multi-cast stories. “Why would I be? If my role is worthwhile I'll only be too glad to take it up. Didn't I do K.V. Anand's Kana Kandaen with Prithviraj?

So what's next? Immediately, he is back to being his exuberant self. “I'm very satisfied with my next film, Drohi. The director is Mani Ratnam's assistant Sudha K. Prasad and a host of actors, including Poorna, Poonam Bajwa and Vishnu of Vennila Kabaddi Kuzhu, form the cast. I play a very different role in it,” he smiles.

“Every choice you make is a gamble and you learn from mistakes. But in my case I seem to be learning the entire time.” His voice sounds low.

Cheer up Sri! Your next success spell could be just round the corner. Who knows, Drohi could be the ace up your sleeve!