Sibiraj, who will be seen in a negative role in the soon-to-be-released Naanayam, has much to say about the choice. malathi rangarajan listens in

Being a star son, stepping into cinema was easy for Sibiraj. But like several others gaining a foothold hasn't been a piece of cake. Lee, a commercial hit, which projected Sibi in a very different light, would change all that, you thought. So it's rather strange that two years since the impact-making role of Lee, Sibi still hasn't had a release. Now Naanayam, his first film post-Lee, which is expected to be out soon, will have him playing villain! “Please! I'm not portraying the stereotypical villain. In Naanayam, my character has negative shades, and there is a challenging mind game between Prasanna and me. I even have a couple of songs. So it's more a two-hero subject,” he explains.

The hiatus was intentional. “If signing movies was the only criterion, I would've had at least five releases in these two years. Whether they would have fared well or not is another question,” says Sibi, who has his course well charted out.

The fate of a debut film could make or mar a hero's career. So probably his first film, Student No. 1, didn't prove the right choice. “It wasn't a dampener either. It did reasonably well. Also opening with a runaway hit could work adversely, allowing me to get carried away and ending in a slide-down. From Rajini and Kamal, to Vikram and Suriya, they've all come up gradually. I can afford to wait. I'm only 27,” he reasons.

Recently, Sibiraj was a guest-participant on Sun TV's ‘Deala No Deala?' In a way, the game show appeared to exemplify his nature. Without pushing his luck too far, he pulled out when he had won a little over Rs.1 lakh. “You watched it?” he laughs. “I made some mental calculations and decided to stop when the going was good enough. If I had continued, the amount I would have got from the next box would be Rs.1000! Did you notice?”

Making cautious moves and looking for stability in his career rather than signing all films that come his way sum up Sibi's style of functioning. So, is his decision to turn baddie a wise step, since he is taking the risk of getting typecast? “I gave the prospect a lot of thought, because I don't wish to continue in this vein. But Kamal Haasan played the anti-hero in Sigappu Rojakkal and more recently Prasanna tried it in Anjaadhey. So I decided, ‘Why not?'”

Sure, why not, especially when his father gave villainy quite a few new dimensions some years ago. Who can forget Satyaraj's diabolism, callousness and conceit in films such as Kaakhichattai? “After listening to the role I play in Naanayam, appa said it would do for me what Amaidhi Padai and Nooravadhu Naal did for him. ‘Utilise the chance well,' he advised. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.” But Sibi is getting back to playing the regular hero in his next project, Saandhu Pottu. “Yeah, I'm attempting a kind of balancing act,” he says.

While Satyaraj worked his way to the top, beginning with miniscule parts and rising to the status of a leading man after playing the consummate villain in a slew of films, son Sibi, who began as hero with Student No.1, is now going on to play the anti in his seventh film. The father-son duo have done four projects together — Jore, Mannin Maindhan, Kovai Brothers and Vetrivel Saktivel — the films may have done well at the box office but they didn't work to the junior's advantage. “Exactly, the films helped appa more. After Sivaji Ganesan and Prabhu, we were the popular father-son pair to appear together on screen. The novelty was a draw. All the same, henceforth we'll team up only if the project is unique. I don't intend riding piggy-back on dad. But I learnt a lot from him during the making of those films.”

Sibi is a lot like Satyaraj in height and looks, not to forget the similarity in their voices. “I can't help it,” he laughs, “But I consciously try to keep the resemblance to a minimum.” Sibi did achieve it in Lee. “Prabhu Solomon, the director, saw to it,” he says, “and in Naanayam you will catch glimpses of appa's style along with my originality just as the role demands.”

Naanayam will be director Shakti's first film. The technician has apprenticed under Mysskin, Nasser and Venkat Prabhu. “He's given me a lot of freedom to work on the role and the scope is immense.” Prasanna, the other hero and a close friend, has also helped Sibi with his inputs. “The end product is satisfying,” says Sibi.

Keywords: SibirajLeeNaanayamfilm