150 and counting: Tamil ‘action King’ Arjun

Arjun made his debut in Tamil films in 1984 with Nandri, directed by Rama Narayanan. In a career spanning over 32 years, he has worked with top directors in the industry, and is a known name in Telugu and Kannada films as well. He also ventured into direction in 1992 with Sevagan, and has directed 17 films and is working on his 18th project.

Currently, the ‘Action King’, as he’s called, is looking forward to the release of his 150th film, Nibunan (Vismaya in Kannada), directed by Arun Vaidyanathan. In a chat, he talks about the journey so far and what keeps him going. Excerpts:

What aspect of Nibunan made you choose it as your 150th film?

When Arun narrated the script to me, I was at once impressed by the thriller. Nibunan is a cop film, but not in the usual pattern of such thrillers. There is a completely different dimension to the role of the cop here. I play Ranjith Kalidoss, a DSP in the crime branch, who is intelligent and strong but has a weakness. The film talks about how he balances his family and profession.

Tell us about working with Arun Vaidyanathan...

He’s a perfectionist and does his homework well. Not a minute was wasted on set.

You seem to be fascinated by negative roles of late...

Yes, I enjoy playing such roles. I am tired of playing the lead role. In the recent past, Mankatha and Kadal were very well received. In my upcoming Telugu film, LIE, I playing a stylish character who has shades of grey.

Is this Arjun experimenting with what he can give to a film?

Every week, I turn down at least three or four offers. I intend to concentrate on versatile characters. Roles with shades of grey excite me. I will be playing a father in an upcoming Telugu film, Naa Peru Surya, Naa Illu India, starring Allu Arjun and directed by Vakkantham Vamsi. My logic is: Why wait to age to play dad roles? Why not now?

Are you comfortable sharing screen space with other stars?

I am perfectly comfortable with that. I had worked with Kamal Haasan in Kuruthipunal way back in 1994. And of course, I did Mankatha and Kadal, in which I shared space with Ajith and Arvind Swamy.

Why did you shift your focus to direction?

After my debut, I was belting out a series of flops for almost a decade. During the early part of the 90s, I was doing nothing at all for a year. That was the time I understood what I really wanted to do and how I must choose my projects. I realised that direction was my passionand went on to direct 17 films. Patriotism and social messages have always been the underlying theme in my directorials.

You are currently directing a film titled Solli Vidava, right?

My daughter Aishwarya and Chandan play lead roles. It is a love story. You will be surprised to see this romantic film coming from this Action King!

Among Kicha (Gentleman) and Pugazhendi (Mudhalvan), which do you like better?

(Thinks) Both are roles close to my heart. But whenever Rhythm plays on TV, I make it a point to watch it. Rarely do actors get such roles.

Can you describe your career decade-wise: 80s, 90s, 2000-2010 and the present?

While the 80s was hard work, the 90s was a turning point. 2000-2010 was marked by consistency. 2010 to present is versatility/experimentation.

Can you imagine yourself donning the role of Kattappa in Baahubali?

I envy everyone who got to be a part of Baahubali... how I wish I had bagged one role in that film! Baahubali. That is my kind of film, and probably in future, I may come up with a film of a similar genre.

You had terrific chemistry with Vadivelu in the past...

Yes, in Giri (2004), the comic timing worked out very well. I have always had a good rapport with comedians like Vivek, Vadivelu and Goundamani.

You’re still one of the fittest actors in the industry...

My father was a pehelwan, and from the age of 13, I have been practising karate. I work out for 40 minutes, four days a week. While we do need trainers toinitiate us into fitness, I think self-motivation is the best.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 7:58:18 AM |

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