Movies

Rebel with a cause

STR talks to about his journey to stardom and the magical link between him, Gautham Menon and A.R. Rahman

His boyish charm in Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa has transformed into a macho look in Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada, but Silambarasan, or STR as he would like to be known, is quite at peace with himself. “Right now, my mind is blank. I don’t feel any emotion, and mentally, I feel I am levitating. After Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, I wanted to do a film in the same genre and Gautham came up with this,” says STR.

Is there a comfort zone with Gautham? “I will go a step further and say that there is an invisible link between Rahman, Gautham and me. Subconsciously, we all understand each other’s needs and capabilities. When we meet, some sort of magic happens,” he says.

For STR, the progression from his childhood — with masala movies— to where he is now, doing films of substance, has been an eventful journey. “Having grown up in the aura of my father’s (T. Rajendar) stardom, I have always wanted to be a popular star, more than just a performing actor. My heroes were stars like MGR and Rajinikanth. But my dad wanted me to go through the grind, do different types of roles and explore myself. This, in a way, was good. I remember doing two kinds of songs — a classy western dance number (‘Chukkumala’) and a ‘thara local’ folk number (‘Sonnalthaan’) for Sonnal Thaan Kaadhala — and the latter became a hit, and my growing fans wanted to see me in those kinds of roles. That’s when I realised that what the viewers want is totally different from what I thought I should do.”

Being quite a rebel, a kind of restlessness kept stirring STR, and every now and then, he would take a break to reflect on where his career was going. STR even dabbled in direction and playback singing. “When I had the luxury of taking some selfish decisions, I wanted to do a film to satisfy my own need. Meanwhile, I got hooked on to Gautham’s films and I must have watched his Minnalae a hundred times. As luck would have it, I got a call from him one day, but I was disappointed when the script he offered me was similar to the kind of films I had been doing all along. So, I confessed to him about my longing to do a typical Gautham film and he said he had a script but thought I would throw it away as it did not fit my persona. When I read the script of Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, I just knew that was it.”

From then on, the comfort factor kicked in. “Gautham knows what I am capable of, and I am confident of how he will build my character in the film. I am not known to prepare well in advance for any scene, but with Gautham, his preparedness and my capacity to immediately get into the skin of the character help in getting the shot done in a jiffy. After Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada was a breeze.”

Being a commercially successful star, STR has always maintained an image of aloofness, brashness, and rebelliousness, be it deliberate or a natural quality of his persona. He has been labelled an ‘enfant terrible’ of Tamil cinema. “I am a rebel. I don’t question why something is happening...rather, I ask how it originated in the first place. I try to tackle the root cause. Many times, I have been successful at it, but people don’t understand the reason for my being rebellious and accuse me of being brash and difficult. This attitude may have caused problems within the industry, but I am sure that later, people will laud me for what I stood up for,” he says.

With Achcham Yenbadhu Madamaiyada behind him, STR is well into his next film, Anbanavan Asaradhavan Adangadhavan. Does the title describe STR is in real life? “Absolutely. When producer Michael Rayappan and director Adhik Ravichandran approached me to select among the three names for the film’s title, I told them: There are three characters that I play in the film. All three names aptly describe who I am in real life. Even if the film’s characters do not match my personal lifestyle, I think you should keep all three names as the title, ” says STR, who has just completed two schedules and is currently on a weight-reduction regime to fit into the role of the third character.

Simbu says Anbanavan Asaradhavan Adangadhavan is a project that’s right up his alley. “I am confident that when the film releases, many actors will feel that they should have done roles like these.”

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 8:31:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/Rebel-with-a-cause/article16374314.ece

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