Fear. Fear of being unable to sustain in the film industry. This is what pushes actor Bharath out of bed and to work every day.
“I have to do it on my own. There won’t be anyone else to pull me up.” Bharath, who has now been in the industry for over two decades, worries that this shouldn’t come across as a call for sympathy. “I understand that this is where I stand in cinema. I have found some success, and now I have to sustain.”
Bharath has pinned a lot of hope on Miral, the upcoming horror-thriller co-starring Vani Bhojan. “This project is close to my heart,,” he says. But he is more excited because this will be his first theatrical release in the language post pandemic. “Releasing a film in theatres is the biggest happiness any actor can get. No matter what has changed post-pandemic, watching a film on the big screen is irreplaceable, for both the actor and the audience,” he says. Excerpts from an interview:
Considering ‘Miral’ director M Sakthivel is a debutant, there must have been something that pulled you into this project. What is that?
Firstly, it has a strong story. As a storyline, it might be simple — it is about a man who fights to protect his family after an unexpected incident — but it is told through a strong screenplay. On top of this emotional core, elements of horror and thriller were added to make it more gripping. I don’t know if you can call the film a horror.
Also, though Sakthivel has no prior experience in directing, except for a few short films, I was impressed by his confidence and the understanding he has of the craft.
You sound hesitant about calling it a horror film...
Yes. It’s not a typical horror film like Conjuring. It is a thriller with horror elements added as embellishments. In fact, the film is more about its strong emotional undercurrent.
Does it get exhausting to perform in such films where you have to maintain a high emotional pitch?
Of course. Shooting for Miral was physically and mentally exhausting. There were lots of emotional ups and downs in the script, and the film has a lot of stunts as well. What was more challenging was that since the entire film is set in the night, we used to shoot from 7 in the evening till 4 in the morning. Moreover, the chilly climate of Thenkasi was another challenge.
After ‘Time Enna Boss’, which came out in 2020, we haven’t seen you in any web series. Considering the OTT climate, do you wish to be a part of more web series projects?
Definitely. I mean, as an actor you can’t afford to say no to such streaming projects. You have to balance between theatrical releases and OTT projects. The success of a series like Suzhal: The Vortex speaks for itself.
I have a couple of web series coming up. The first is a Sony LIV web series called Story of the Things, which is about a connection between a human and a particular thing. The second series is a ZEE5 series produced by Radaan Mediaworks and directed by Vasanthabalan.
A thriller like ‘Miral’ can do well on streaming, but we are also seeing thrillers do well in theatres. What went into this decision of opting for a theatre release?
For Miral, it’s purely a business decision. The entire film was shot in under 20 days and with a limited cast and crew. The production value wasn’t much, and I am confident that it will be a profitable venture.
You have been in the industry for over two decades now, and your script selection parameters must have evolved. What do you see in a story now?
Over the last two decades, I have witnessed how cinema has changed and how creators are evolving. Now, it is my responsibility to keep updating myself and adapting according to the changes. I am doing that, but I am also a little keen on doing films that showcase family values, which aren’t coming out much these days. Earlier, I have done films like Em Magan, Veyil, Koodal Nagar, and so on, which dealt with family relationships, and drama that happens within a family. Very few directors like Pandiraj or Muthaiah are doing such films now. I wish more creators write stories like that because such concepts are evergreen considering how culture-oriented we all are.
Your Telugu movie ‘Hunt’ is also gearing up for release. Previously, you did a supporting role in Salman Khan’s ‘Radhe’. How do you choose such projects?
I chose to do Hunt because I liked the role. It’s a film about three police officers and I play one of the three. Meka Srikanth and Sudheer Babu play the other two roles, and all of us had equal footage and value in the script.
I did Radhe purely for the experience of working with Salman sir and Prabhu Deva master. I have already worked in Bollywood — in the 2013 film Jackpot — but I wanted to learn further about how that industry works and so when Prabhu master asked me, I was immediately up for it. However, I am quite content and happy with my work here in Tamil cinema. This is my home ground.
So, is there a calculation for choosing to do films in Telugu and Malayalam?
Working in other language industries is just to stretch the boundary and explore new territories. As an actor, when you see the content that these industries are doing, you would naturally wish to be a part of such scripts. Moreover, shuttling between languages adds value to your home territory in terms of business.
‘Hunt’ is a multi-starrer, which is now the trend everywhere. Can we see you in such a project in Tamil?
I have always been open to doing multi-starrers. I have already done it in projects like Vaanam, Pattiyal, and Veyil...I could go on. I think when another actor performs alongside you, it adds more value to the experience. Further, it will help actors get a new perspective on the craft while observing other performers.
Are you someone who has a laid-out map to achieve futuristic goals or are you more of a present-first individual?
If we calculate and chart out a plan for the future, we will be left disappointed if it doesn’t go according to the plan. For now, I just want to select good scripts and work with good production companies that can promote my films well.