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At home in every role

Nasser is all set to complete 200 films, after being in the industry for 17 years. The actor, who can portray both villain and character roles with élan, is confident that his latest directorial venture "Pop-Carn" will be a big success.

THERE ARE a few actors in Indian cinema who are willing to experiment. One such is Nasser, a class actor, who gets into the role. Seventeen years after his entry into films, he is on the verge of completing 200 films in all the South Indian languages. Who can forget his style of acting in films such as "Aavaram Poove", "Thevar Magan" and "Kuruthipunal"?

Nasser has always been able to grab critical attention even in a commercial film such as the recent "King" where he played Vikram's father with élan.

The multi-dimensional actor has also directed some offbeat films such as "Avatharam", "Devathai" and "Maayan". But somehow success at the box-office has eluded him so far as a director.

Now on the eve of the release of his new Mohanlal-Simran starrer in Tamil titled "Pop-Carn", Nasser is yearning for recognition at the box-office.

You are recognised more for the villain roles and later as a character artiste. How do you react to that?

I am here to do the roles that are offered to me. At the end of the day, I am sure that I will be known for some memorable characters that I have portrayed. In Tamil films, playing the hero in popular cinema is no big deal. I have played the hero in films such as "Magalir Mattum", which was a great success.

But you never tried to play the conventional hero?

I have always made it clear that I am willing to do both; the negative and positive roles, provided the script is well written. I hate to play the conventional hero in Tamil films. It is not my cup of tea.

You have been recognised as a fine actor, but the films that you have directed have not done too well at the box-office. Please comment.

Who said so? My films such as "Devathai" and "Avatharam" got a lot of critical acclaim. Is box-office the only criteria by which a film or director is judged? Anyway, my answer to all my critics will be my new film, "Pop-Carn". I am sure that the film is going to please everybody.

You played the hero in all the films that you directed. Why?

It was purely due to circumstances. A popular hero of that time was signed to do the role in "Devathai" but he backed out in the last minute, saying it will spoil his image! In the case of the second, the hero wanted some changes in the script, which I was not willing to do. For "Maayan" too, the star refused to be directed by me, as he feared the film would become too arty. So, in all the three cases, I was forced to step in at the last minute.

So, you have finally managed to find a hero for "Pop-Carn".

(Laughs) Yes. Mohanlal was initially reluctant to do a film in Tamil, but after he heard the story, he asked me to go ahead and start shooting.

Why did you choose Mohanlal, whose is not hot property among the Tamil audience?

Mohanlal deserved a National Award for "Iruvar", which was his first film in Tamil. He is one of the finest actors in our country. He fit into the role of a musician Vikramaditya perfectly in "Pop-Carn". As an actor, Mohanlal can be compared to Robert De Niro or Tom Hanks!

What is the theme of "Pop-Carn"?

The title is an abridged form for Pop-Carnival. I just wanted to fulfil the urge to make a good film. The story is about a young music troupe searching for a guru. They discover Vikramaditya, a great musician, who is taking a sabbatical from music because of some personal problems.

The troupe unveils the mystery behind Vikramaditya's past and his forced retirement. The story is told in a flashback. He and his wife, a fusion dancer Jamuna played brilliantly by Simran, have separated due to ego clashes. I have tried to focus on why celebrity marriages don't work out.

Were you inspired by Guru Dutt's classic "Kagaz Ke Phool"?

Yes, I am an admirer of Guru Dutt and have been inspired by his works. Similarly, I have also been inspired by Akira Kurosawa and Charlie Chaplin. However, "Pop-Carn" is an out-and-out entertainer aimed at today's youth.

How confident are you about the commercial success of "Pop-Carn"?

It is a feel-good film and is about human emotions. It is a musical with seven songs tuned by Yuvan Shankar Raja, which are already on the top of the charts. Then there is Vivek's comedy, which is crucial to the story.

Above all, the performance of Mohanlal and Simran will bring in the audiences. All that I can say is that the film has a potential to be a hit. If I knew the secret of what works at the box-office, then I would be a happier man (laughs).


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