Karthi’s modest office in Film Nagar, devoid of all starry trappings reflects his persona and his lifestyle as well. Hyderabad has become his second home, and he feels people here are his extended family. They have long accepted him and Karthi too made a diligent effort to be a part of them, dubbing his films, giving interviews in Telugu and consciously choosing scripts that would work as a bi-lingual, commercial factor being last on his mind.
What is it about Karthi that makes him so popular in Andhra Pradesh?
He analyses, “None of the characters that I played right from Paruthiveeran were heroic — they are flawed and real. I noticed people look up to my brother in awe, with me they casually put their hand on my shoulder and chat. On and off stage I’m the same, I can’t be anything else. People ask me why I don’t do a direct Telugu film. Honestly, it doesn’t make a difference because I choose entertaining subjects that work for both States and I dub in Telugu. I guess they want me to do a Telugu film with a Telugu director. Na Peru Siva was received well which means Telugu people give me the freedom to do roles with greater bandwidth but I’m sure I won’t do a Malligadu again as audience showed that they aren’t open to a heavy climax plus it leaves me drained emotionally too.”
What makes him look so fresh, young and full of beans?
“I look young because I’m young (laughs). Seriously, I picked up a few things from my dad. I don’t drink or smoke, I eat on time and sleep well. I’m actually a good boy; Bad Boy (Alex Pandian) is a wrong title for me. I work out 30 minutes everyday. When I was working as a software engineer I knew how abused my body was. I came here to direct but acting happened and when I realised I need to take care of myself if I want to be an actor, everything fell in place.”
Karthi avers that he began thinking of his life and career only after he turned 25. That’s when he realised that he wasn’t cut out for a 9 to 5 job, especially after seeing his father enjoy such a creative job. Acting in movies, he says, is tough but he couldn’t have been elsewhere with all the high coming from playing different characters, travelling and meeting so many people.
But isn’t adulation intoxicating? “It is, there is so much affection, you want to give it back. It is so gratifying and important and everything else becomes a bonus. My biggest achievement was getting into movies. I started designing posters before becoming an assistant director.
It is not about picking the right roles, the right roles should come to me also. I love the sweat, the heat in the sets.”
Karthi reflects and adds honestly, “When I see the other actors’ films, their choice, the kind of films that I always wanted to do, I feel why am I not doing films like Barfi. I want to do films that help me discover different facets in me.
I don’t mind working with new directors, but not absolutely new, they should have proved themselves at least through one film.”
Looking back at his career, Karthi says, “I’ve not done many films — just 7 or 8, but it feels it has been a long time because the films have done well. I’m looking at something that people have not seen, like my forthcoming Biryani which is stylish and there is a movie with Kajal with a rural backdrop.”
Finally does criticism affect him?
The actor says the media and the BO results never match. Siruthai was torn apart by critics but it worked extremely well.
As a parting shot he says, “After Siruthai’s release whereever I went, people addressed me as Rocket Raja. You will be satisfied with Biryani, it’s urban and the character’s quest for biryani changes the course of the film.”