Wouldn't advise Gautam to do adult comedies like 'Iruttu Araiyil Murattu Kuthu', says dad Karthik

Actor Karthik   | Photo Credit: R. Ravindran

You’re doing a film titled Mr Chandramouli now. Can you recall the time when that popular dialogue was shot for Mouna Ragam?

That’s one thing I can never forget. We shot it at an open-air restaurant called Tic Tac and never thought the ‘Mr Chandramouli’ dialogue would become so popular. I was the last addition to Mouna Ragam; they had already completed most of the film by the time I was in. We (Mani Ratnam and I) completed my portions in 14 days.

You got a dream break in the movies, being launched by Bharathiraaja and going on to work with the likes of Mani Ratnam. It must have been an exciting time, right?

Honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into when I said yes to Alaigal Oivathillai. The makers approached my dad (actor Muthuraman) to ask me. The unit was already in Nagercoil at that time, and they had already selected someone else for the character. I don’t know why they came home that day to ask me to star in it. My dad asked me, “Enna Murali, Nadikaraya (Will you act, Murali?)” and I said yes without giving it a thought. I don’t know how I got the confidence to say that. But I’ve not been one to shy away from exploring new things.

That goes beyond movies, I suppose.

Oh yes. I love Nature. There are so many interesting getaways in Tamil Nadu that people hardly know about. There’s this place in Kodaikanal, beyond Berijam Lake. One day, I went deep into the forest, and discovered another pristine lake. A couple of people recognised me and were surprised that a cinema artiste had come so far. They told me that I was the second celebrity to visit that place. The first was Gemini Ganesan.

Back to films. You’re known for both romantic and comedy roles. Did you realise you had it in you or was it the directors who did that for you?

It took me three years to accept this as my profession. My first film was shot in Tamil and Telugu simultaneously, and was a big hit. But after that, I didn’t have any films, so I went back to college. A few months later, I started working on a Tamil film... and that’s when I lost my father. I was really confused then. I was missing my college friends — I was just 21 then — but I was stuck in the film industry. The only way out for me was to keep experimenting in my roles. I opted to do a few characters that were beyond my age. Some didn’t do well, but I was learning all the while.

You were fairly successful till the late 90s, after which you hit a rough patch. What went wrong?

(Laughs) Everything. After 2002, things became very difficult in my personal and professional life. I was taken for a ride, financially speaking. I know it sounds odd, considering I was a Commerce student.

Is that because you were gullible?

I generally trust people too much. Luckily, I didn’t get crushed.

What did you do to make your second innings in films different?

I wanted roles that weren’t offered to me earlier. As an actor, I wanted to keep challenging myself. I also kept writing during this time... I even had a few scripts ready. And I kept reading all the time... I was abreast of what was happening in the world.

Where did Mr Chandramouli fall in this scheme of things?

It was totally unexpected. My son Gautham asked me to listen to this script. We’ve had offers of father-and-son subjects before, but we had declined them. But Gautham seemed interested in this one. When director Thiru narrated the script to me, I didn’t hesitate for a second. Working with the entire team was fantastic.

A still from 'Mr. Chandramouli'

A still from 'Mr. Chandramouli'   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


Gautham says that you don’t advise him much. Is that true?

With the younger generation today, it’s all about the way you advise. When I want to tell him something, I make it a conversation, tell him how to approach things and then leave him to chew on it.

Two of his recent hits fall in the adult comedy genre (Hara Hara Mahadevaki and Iruttu Araiyil Murattu Kuthu). As a father, what do you think of his career choices?

Honestly speaking, I haven’t watched those two films, except a few scenes. They were both successful films at the box office, but it came with a lot of criticism. We’ve all done certain films that we wish we hadn’t done. So, while they were both hits, I wouldn’t tell Gautham, ‘Do it again,’ and I don’t think he will either.

Both Rajinikanth and Kamal have entered politics now, but you’ve been nursing political ambitions for a while. What’s happening on that front?

When I entered that space, I was a part-time politician. That was not right. You need to be active all the time, especially now when there are so many unresolved issues. Once I complete my film commitments, I will go back to it.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 12:57:56 AM |

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