Simbu gets talking about his much-awaited Deepavali release Poda Podi, his next romantic sojourn after Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaayaa.

If you consider candour a virtue Simbu has it in plenty. And if you think punctuality is a prerequisite for success he begs to differ. “I do more than a dozen things at a time and such multi-tasking doesn’t allow me to be on the dot at functions, for interviews, etc.,” Simbu gets to the point straightway with a laugh. Could such large-scale multi-tasking be one of the reasons for Poda Podi, his Deepavali release, coming out more than three years after it was begun? He doesn’t get defensive.

PP came to me during the time of Vinnai Thaandi Varuvaayaa. The initial idea was to shoot the entire film in Toronto. Permission couldn’t be obtained as planned and I went ahead with VTV. But I seem to be a soft target for many,” he shrugs matter-of-factly. PP is a much-expected film because it will be Simbu’s next romantic rendezvous after his runaway hit, VTV.

He didn’t wish to be typecast as a diehard lover all over again, soon after VTV. “And it would have happened if I had followed it up with PP,” he says. So he went on to do Vaanam and Osthe, before embarking on a love sojourn again. “I prefer to work in different genres and time my releases in such a way that with every film my fan base expands. I wish to be a favourite of all categories of filmgoers.”

VTV had him teaming up with popular heroine Trisha. But for PP it’s debutante Varalakshmi. As far as I can remember, except for Trisha, Simbu’s heroines have never been repeated. It is said he has a say in the choice of his leading lady. The response I’m used to from actors is, “I don’t interfere in the casting.’ But Simbu fields it straight. “I have 20 to 30 per cent say in the matter. I make suggestions, particularly if it’s a romantic film, where the heroine’s role is almost equal to the hero’s. This time I found the selection perfect because the heroine of PP is a Salsa dancer, and Varu is trained in it.” Then the talk about his opting out of Ko because he wasn’t too happy with the choice of heroine is true? “It wasn’t the only issue though it was projected so,” says Simbu. “I don’t lie.”

Did Varalakshmi live up to expectations? “Of course, she was in the groove in just a couple of days, and was very comfortable playing the role,” he commends.

Childhood friend

Vignesh Sivan, the director of PP, is a childhood friend of Simbu. “We were in school together. He came to me with the promo and I was impressed. It was current, in keeping with the trend. And a particular point in the story made me decide in favour of it.” Is that supposed to be suspense? “No, I can tell you. There’s this scene where the girl asks me whether I can dance. The query and my reply, as Vignesh had envisaged, clinched it.”

For the first time Simbu has tried his hand at comedy almost throughout PP. VTV Ganesh, Simbu’s favourite, joins him. “Ganesh is a producer in his own right. He doesn’t accept acting offers often, and we like each other,” he smiles.

Surprisingly, Yuvan Shankar Raja isn’t PP’s music composer. Dharan, who debuted with Bhagyaraj’s Parijatham, is in charge of the score. “Vignesh and Dharan are friends and when Dharan came over to meet me we hit it off. Yuvan and I take a break now and then, so that when we get back, the music is fresh.”

As he’s one actor who takes salvos spiritedly, I venture to ask him about the accusation that he doesn’t report for shoots on time. “Ha! Ha! I’ve had nearly 15 releases as a hero. Please tell me how my films get released at regular intervals if I don’t shoot? Osthe, for example, was completed at one go. The reasons for delay can be many,” he says. Simbu’s Vaalu and Vaettai Mannan should come out soon.

Many of our youngsters in films, including A. R. Rahman, have the habit of sleeping all day and working through the night. Is it a deterrent as far as keeping pace with schedules go? “With impossible traffic snarls in the city, commuting consumes too much time. Moving around at night for recordings and shoots is comparatively peaceful. Of course, for day time shoots, I have no choice.”

His final words on PP? “We’ve shot almost the entire film in London. It’s a neat, romantic entertainer, and visually stunning. But let me not hype it up too much. I believe a good product will sell on its own. And PP’s good.”

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