Gautham Karthik talks about life on the cusp of stardom

Even as Gautham Karthik’s Rangoon completes its successful run in theatres, he prepares for Ivan Thanthiran to release, making it his third film of the year. Given that the 27-year-old star had no releases last year, he seems to be in an awful hurry now. “You need to be a big star like Ajith, Vijay or Suriya to plan your releases. I know my film’s releasing only when they call me for promotions. These aren’t matters I have a say in.”

What he does have a say in, though, is the hard work he puts in and his choice of films. He’s been working constantly and his career is currently in course correction. “I learnt almost everything about how an actor must be on set when I worked with Mani Ratnam and Rajiv Menon in Kadal. But an actor needs to learn how he must behave off set. That’s been the tough part.”

He cites an early lesson he learnt on being available on the phone. His ‘no phone on set’ policy isn’t one that’s appreciated in a ‘sensitive’ industry. “A lot of unknown people started calling me once my films released, so I couldn't differentiate between who’s who. I missed a few calls from important people and I had to face the repercussions.”

That’s when he realised that an actor’s job is never over. “You have to always be on call. It’s a 24x7 thing.”

Bittersweet success

But these are missteps he couldn’t avoid given how he was never groomed to be a Tamil film star, feels Gautham. Raised far away from the industry, on a diet of English films, certain lessons needed to be learnt the hard way. So even when he should be rejoicing in the success of Rangoon, the feeling is more bittersweet. “Things haven’t gone according to plan. If a Mani Ratnam-AR Rahman film doesn’t throw you up to the stars, then what can?”

What has worked in this period is how he has fallen in love with acting. An accidental career choice at first, he enjoys being able to be in someone else’s shoes. “As you’re prepare for a role, you’re constantly creating an alternate personality within yourself, bit by bit.”

A geek at heart

But the approach has been different in Ivan Thanthiran, in which his role is more or less another version of himself. “I’m a tech geek in real life as well. My mum used to buy me a lot of robotic toys as a child, and I used to rip them apart. So when she stopped, I had to fix them myself.” From toy robots, his obsession has now grown to phones, computers and apps.

And as his stardom grows, he feels it’s time to be cautious, with the industry watching his every move. “I can’t afford to make mistakes any more. I trusted my instincts to select my movies, but that didn’t work out for me at all. You can’t trust your instincts if you’ve grown up watching English films alone.”

Mind over matter

From instinctive, his decisions have become more strategic. After having established himself as a talented actor, he feels it’s time to establish the star. “I feel I’ve covered the A centre and proved I can act with Rangoon and Kadal. But I need to grow into a bankable star. For that, as any producer would tell you, you need the B and C centres.”

His focus, for now, has shifted to films that suit a wider audience. “Just for two to three films. Not more. It’s only after that will I experiment with an A-centre film.”

And even when planning goes wrong, he feels it’s important to stand by it. Muthuramalingam, a film that released earlier this year, was one such. “I knew, right from day one, that it was going to be a disaster. But what can you do? It’s a C-centre film and you have to trust their sensibility. That’s when I realised that I have to own my decisions. A film is not just about me… you need to think of the technicians who got to work in it. I’m glad there was a Rangoon to resurrect my reputation after.”

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2021 7:47:41 PM |

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