“Sincerity is my strong point,” says M.S. Bhaskar. And spontaneity too!

The State Award for his outstanding performance in Mozhi is a new feather in his cap. “This is the first big award that has come my way,” says the elated actor.

Prakash Raj, producer of Mozhi, was very happy for him. “You should have got it long ago. But I’m glad it has come at least now,” he told Bhaskar.

A late starter, from the early stages this natural performer has proved his mettle even in minor roles. Mozhi showcased his potential to go beyond comedy. The scene in the film when the amnesiac comprehends the tragedy that led to his mental instability is unforgettable.

Involved approach

“I must thank director Radha Mohan. Even when he narrated my part I told him that he should give me at least a day’s time to prepare myself for the vital scene. I was out one evening when he called me up — ‘We are planning to shoot it tomorrow Bhaskar,’ he said. I immediately returned home and was silent the whole night trying to get into the mood of the character. And believe me without glycerine I shed tears for the take next morning!”

A memorable scene where both Geetha Ravishankar, who acted as his wife, and Prithviraj also did ample justice!

But is such preparation necessary? “Of course, emotional sequences require homework. The scene was the soul of the segment and getting into the skin of it was essential. Invariably I get a splitting headache after doing such scenes because I’m completely into the role,” says Bhaskar. When the folks on the set put their hands together for Bhaskar soon after the shot was canned he knew it would touch the right chord with the audience. “A sorrowful scene which I enjoyed doing,” he says laughing at his own paradox.

Another film which involved much effort on his part was Azhagiya Theeyae. A Radha Mohan film again! “Yes, I’m glad I’ve done some meaningful roles for him.”

Though he has worked in around 75 films, till about three years ago he was doing television serials too. “I stopped taking up small screen projects because I was advised to, though I don’t subscribe to the theory that television exposure doesn’t help a cinema aspirant. After all, acting is acting. The practical problem is when you straddle two mediums, shooting dates clash and affect TV projects where you invariably have significant roles,” he explains.

Dubbing, a success

Bhaskar is a popular dubbing artist too. Kamaraj the film, in which he gave voice for the leader, won plaudits for him. The tone and accent were near perfect! “Mimicking the voice of a person people are familiar with, is a challenge. Kamaraj was a very satisfying experience,” he notes.

His voice for ‘Nair’ Raman, in Sethu was also well-received. “I thank director Bala for it.” Bhaskar is fluent in Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and English.

“I love languages,” he says. Not just languages, Bhaskar is known for his adeptness at various Tamil dialects.

Seeing an actor who has made a mark in several films, including Dasavathaaram and Sivaji, take up crass roles such as that of the middle-aged ‘lover’ in Guru En Aalu is shocking. “But as an actor I have to try out a variety of roles,” he justifies.

In Irumbu Kottai Murattu Singam, which is under production, Bhaskar plays a tribal and has even created a tribal tongue which the director is happy with! With such talent and taste for cinema what took him so long to enter the field?

“I always wanted to be an actor. But my first chance to don the greasepaint came only about two decades ago with Thirumathi Oru Vegumathi. From a sales representative with Hindustan Lever to the present when I rub shoulders with the greats in cinema, I’ve come a long way. This interaction for your newspaper is proof enough,” he smiles.