Vallinam, Amali Thumali, Naan Rajavaga Pogiren — three films in different stages of completion keep Nakul completely engaged. nikhil raghavan catches up with the actor

The man who would be king. That's precisely the title of one of actor Nakul's forthcoming movies — Naan Rajavaga Pogiren. Given his busy schedule this year, one can well imagine where Nakul is headed.

It has been exactly a decade since his dream debut in director Shankar's Boys. During this period, Nakul may have done just three films in Tamil and one in Telugu, but, as they say, there is a time for everything. This year portends to be big for Nakul, with three films in different stages of completion.

While Amali Thumali and Naan Rajavaga Pogiren are progressing at a brisk pace, it is director Arivazhagan's Vallinam that is keeping Nakul on his toes. Produced by Aascar Films' V. Ravichandran, Vallinam is a sports drama with newcomer Mrudhula Basker playing Nakul’s romantic interest. Amali Thumali is a comedy directed by K. S. Adhiyaman. Besides Nakul, the film features Shanthanu and Swati. Naan Rajavaga Pogiren is an action film directed by Prithvi Rajkumar and has Chandni and newcomer Avani Modi in the female leads.

Four films in ten years must be a dampener for any actor, but not for Nakul. “After Boys, many films came my way. But, I was choosy and wanted to do only the best. I remember what my mentor, director Shankar, once said: ‘I don’t want to do a hundred forgettable films, but just ten in my lifetime that will be remembered.’ I have age on my side and a lot of patience,” says Nakul. Yes, patience has been one of the virtues that has seen him, slowly and steadily, climb up the popularity ladder.

New interest in sport

In Vallinam, Nakul is attempting a genre that is new to him. He may not have played the typical rural character or the out-and-out comedian. His good looks have always seen him being cast as the romantic hero. But director Arivazhagan has decided to make Nakul more macho in his new role of a basketball player. “I have never been into sports and when Arivazhagan offered me this role with a conviction that I would do justice to it, I took it up as a challenge,” says Nakul. He watched as many basketball matches and movies as possible, enrolled for a crash course in the game and practised hard at home. “I shed weight, built some muscles, got a makeover and plunged headlong into the game. It took me two weeks just to master the dribble and to spin the ball on my index finger.”

But, Vallinam is not all about the game; it remains in the background, forming the basis of the story and relationships. The hero’s character is built around the game. “While it shows that a sport is essential to the development of a well-rounded personality, the movie also helps convey the fact that sports personalities should be accorded the respect and recognition they deserve as much as other professionals,” points out Nakul.

Crooning a song

Singing has been a passion for Nakul and he has sung quite a few songs in several films. “It is a pleasant coincidence that the music director for Vallinam is Thaman, who debuted with me in Shankar’s Boys. I remember him telling me when he first broke into the scene of music direction: ‘One day I will score the music for one of your films’. Yes, it has taken us a while to get together and for Vallinam, I am singing a song, too. Uniquely, the song is titled ‘Nakula’! All the songs in Vallinam are in keeping with the theme of the film and are already gaining popularity,” notes Nakul.

So what is his strategy from here on? “I am not too much into socialising or frequenting the so-called ‘camps’ in the film world. I would love to do another Shankar film. I am where I am because of his Boys. I would like to experiment with different roles to prove my abilities. Currently, I am reading some scripts and have zeroed in on one which looks promising. I always tell myself, if a film becomes a hit or a flop, only I should be responsible, for, the decision was solely mine,” signs off Nakul.