Interview After a hiatus, actor Siddharth is back in Tamil films with “180”. The thinking actor opens up to Nikhil Raghavan about his kind of cinema
H e's not lost the boyish charm of the 2003 hit “Boys”, but has grown in stature as an actor. Siddharth may not have scored big in Tamil films after “Boys” and “Ayudha Ezhuthu”, but he has been in the news, courtesy a hit-packed stint in the Telugu film industry (think “Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana” and “Bommarillu”) and performance-oriented outings in Bollywood (“Rang De Basanti” and “Striker”).
And now, he's back on home turf, acting in SPI Cinemas' “180” in Tamil and Telugu, and an as-yet-untitled Telugu film (to be dubbed in Tamil too) with Sruthi Hassan, produced by veteran director K. Raghavendra Rao and Walt Disney Pictures, and directed by Prakash Kovelamudi.
Route to the top
Ask Siddharth about the huge time gap between his last Tamil film and this one, and he says: “I was lucky that my first two films were directed by Shankar (“Boys”) and Mani Ratnam (“Ayudha Ezhuthu”). They set the standard, and it became difficult to decide on scripts, directors and production houses. By then, I'd started doing my first Telugu film, the blockbuster “Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana”, with Trisha (by then an established star in Telugu), directed by Prabhu Deva. That's when “Rang De Basanti” happened, and it became a huge hit, too. There was really no time to look elsewhere. But, for me, there is no distinction between a Tamil, Telugu or Hindi film. They are all meant to entertain, but produced in different languages for different audiences.”
Talking about “180”, the actor says the deciding factor when it came to signing up for the film was director Jayendra Panchapakesan. “As a youngster, I have watched his ad films and have always wanted to be in one of them. The character in ‘180' is after my heart — I love playing a romantic, simple boy-next-door for family audiences. No overdose of violence and heroics for me, please. I feel this will mark my comeback to Tamil films, which, I must confess, I miss a lot,” says Siddharth.
As for Telugu films, he says: “I have carved a niche for myself — I don't consider myself a mass hero; not even a hero in the real sense of the word. I am an actor, and have always done roles that have attracted family audiences.”
Amongst a whole crop of stars and super stars, Siddharth says he is more a ‘method' actor. His passion, even before he did “Boys”, lay in other areas of filmmaking — direction, screenplay writing and singing. “At some point in life, when I have done enough films, I will move to direction. In the Telugu film industry, I have had the privilege of getting involved in almost every aspect of a production. This works two ways — if the film becomes a hit, I know I have contributed beyond just acting, and if it fails, I share the responsibility for that too,” he points out.