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The power of two

subha j rao
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chatline Actor Suriya talks about the challenges he faced essaying conjoined twins in his much-awaited ‘Brothers’

winsome twosome?Suriya in a double role as conjoined twins in ‘Brothers’
winsome twosome?Suriya in a double role as conjoined twins in ‘Brothers’

Perazhagan , Vel , Vaaranam Aayiram (Surya s/o Krishnan in Telugu), 7aam Arivu ( 7th Sense ) and now, Maattrraan (Brothers in Telugu). At a time when double roles have become passé, Suriya is all set to wow filmgoers in his fifth such outing — as Akilan and Vimalan. “Really? I never realised that,” laughs Suriya, who courts the audience on October 12 after last year’s tepid 7aam Arivu ( 7th Sense ).

The actor signed up for the film impressed with director K.V. Anand’s narration. The two go back a long way — to the superhit Ayan (Veedokade) . “You should see the kind of effort Anand has put in; the pace of the screenplay. He spends a lot of time (even two years!) with writer duo SuBa (Suresh and Balakrishnan) to perfect the script.”

Contrasting characters

Suriya plays the effervescent Akilan and the silent Vimalan, who are stuck together, through life and love. Kajal Aggarwal plays Akilan’s love interest. “Kajal is fantastic and has great clarity. Anand likens her to a computer. Tap the keyboard and you get what you want. Despite not knowing the language, she rocks.”

Considering Suriya’s bashful nature, how difficult was it to play Akilan? “Well, it is easier to play characters closer to the real you, such as Anbuselvan ( Kaakha Kaakha or Gharshana ) and Sanjay Ramaswamy ( Ghajini ). Talkative Chinna ( Perazhagan ) and Sakthi ( Pithamagan or Sivaputrudu ) were difficult, for which I bank on the director’s vision and influences from friends.”

How does he rate his Akilan? “Ah! I love working. But, I don’t enjoy watching myself on screen. I tend to nitpick. I prefer moving on,” says Suriya, who shot for about 150 days, spread over a year, for the film. “I would play one brother, and essay the other after a month. It was a lot of effort to fix the emotions, the direction in which I had to look… But, it felt great.”

Brothers was supposed to be the first Indian film with conjoined twins as the subject, but two others raced to the big screen — Iruvan and the Priyamani-starrer Chaarulatha . “But, this film is not just about conjoined twins. There’s a father-son angle, a social awareness plot, and lots of romance,” says Suriya. “Anyway, Hollywood has done something similar, so have films in other countries. Why, even Tees Maar Khan had a track involving Siamese twins?”

For the Telugu version Brothers , Suriya has lent his voice for the Akilan character while sibling Karthi has lent his voice to Vimalan. “It was nice of him to spare the time. He thought I was stretching myself with too much work and chipped in. Everyone is very excited that two brothers have dubbed for on-screen brothers.” So, will we ever get to see the two sharing screen space? “Something really exciting has to come up for that,” says Suriya, now shooting for Hari’s Singam 2 , a sequel to the superhit Singam .

The conversation veers back to Anand. “He’s meticulous and always in search of novelty. Because he has been a photojournalist, there’s always this lovely mix of fact and fiction in his city-based subjects. He’s worked with so many directors, and is a combination of everyone, from Shankar to Priyadarshan.”

Suriya has also agreed to do a film with Gautam Vasudev Menon, titled Thuppariyum Anandan . “We’ve not yet finalised the script, though,” he says. The actor also speaks about his stint as host on Vijay TV’s Neengalum Vellalaam Oru Kodi (the Tamil version of Kaun Banega Crorepati?) that concluded recently. “It was great meeting real people. It called for a different approach. It was all so emotional, unpredictable, unscripted. Initially, I did not know how to handle it. After a few weeks, I fell into the groove. Seeing myself on TV, I used to wonder, ‘Is this how I react to people?’ It was a huge learning experience.”

He also accepts the mixed response to 7aam Arivu (7th Sense) . “Sometimes, you put in your best, but it does not work.” Suriya also wowed the Hindi belt with his role in Ram Gopal Varma’s revenge saga, Rakta Charitra . Critics raved about his silent anger, his expressive eyes and more. “Really?” smiles Suriya. Does he plan to go North for more projects? “Not really. I have good scripts here. I have to be offered something really different to make me move from here. This is my stronghold, I am happy here.”

subha j rao

I would play one brother, and essay the other after a month. It was a lot of effort to fix the emotions, the direction in which I had to look… But, it felt great.


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