Interview | Movies

‘The ‘Sivakarthikeyan template’ will fade away,' says the 'Hero' star

Sivakarthikeyan in a still from the film ‘Hero’

Sivakarthikeyan in a still from the film ‘Hero’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

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SK, as he's popularly known, talks about his upcoming film, in which he plays a masked crusader who doles out vigilante justice

A superhero is generally deemed invincible. They could survive jumping off a tall building or being shot at, but, sometimes, even the toughest of them all cannot escape the dastardly clutches of the common cold.

Sivakarthikeyan, the latest entrant in the league of caped crusaders, is no different. The actor, who has been shooting for a future film of his titled Doctor, walks in to our meeting with a running nose; a situation he describes thus: “Doctor-kke udambu serila (the doctor is sick),” and laughs before adding, “We’ve been shooting in an area with a lot of dust. I feel a bit better now but yesterday I was filming with a fever.”

The good doctor
  • Sivakarthikeyan is currently busy filming his next, Doctor, directed by Nelson Dilipkumar. The film is produced by the actor himself under his SK Productions banner on a first-copy basis for KJR Studios.
  • Nelson and Sivakarthikeyan share a close bond because it was the former who introduced him in films, albeit in a venture that failed to take off. “That film was Vettai Mannan. I was an assistant director to Nelson, and I had also acted in a small role,” says the actor.
  • Vettai Mannan was conceived with actor Silambarasan aka STR in the lead role. The film went into production in 2010, but was dropped, unexpectedly, for reasons that are still unclear after several days of filming. Nelson then had to wait until 2018 to make his Tamil cinema debut as director with Nayanthara’s Kolamavu Kokila.
  • “Both Arunraja (director of Kanaa) and I owe a lot to Nelson for bringing us closer to our cinema dreams. It gives us a warm personal feeling to have this opportunity to produce a film for Nelson,” he adds.

Changing template

Hero, a film directed by PS Mithran, which stars Sivakarthikeyan, Kalyani Priyadarshan, Arjun Sarja, Abhay Deol and others in the cast, hits the screens today. “It is a serious film with a lot of action,” says the 34-year-old actor.

SK, as he is popularly referred to, is asked to make such distinctions during media interactions before his films release because, since making his début in Tamil cinema eight years ago, he has made a career out of making movies that fit the “Sivakarthikeyan template” — or as industry observers define it: dialogue-heavy films with usual suspects like comedy, sentiment, romance, songs, and stunts.

Sivakarthikeyan in a still from the film ‘Hero’

Sivakarthikeyan in a still from the film ‘Hero’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

While the actor says that he considers it “a success” that such references even exist, he draws attention to the fact that the oft-criticised template films tend to be money spinners in Tamil cinema. “Namma Veettu Pillai (his previous movie) is what you would call my style of film, and yet it was one of the biggest hits of the year,” he remarks.

“See, I’m exploring myself on screen these days,” he says, noting that Hero is one such attempt. “But I have to find a balance. A significant portion of the audience like the qualities I bring to my films, and I cannot avoid them in my desire to give something new,” he adds.

Which is why the actor has resorted to working multiple films; something he believes would not give the “impression that I’m trapped” doing the same genre of films, or that he is “trying to force through changes”.

“Maybe, in a few years, I think the idea of there being a Sivakarthikeyan template will fade away. Perhaps, I may even end up creating a whole new template.”

The first avenger

About Hero, the actor elucidates the film’s core idea in a sentence: “Those who can think for themselves are the actual super heroes.” The genre of superhero films is an unexplored territory in Indian cinema; where Tamil films are concerned, it may even be deemed a poisoned chalice (remember Mysskin’s Mugamoodi?).

Sivakarthikeyan in a still from the film ‘Hero’

Sivakarthikeyan in a still from the film ‘Hero’   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

While the actor’s character exhibits no superhuman qualities in the film (he doles out vigilante justice), Sivakarthikeyan is confident of the genre striking a chord among the audience.

“There is a time for everything. Today, I believe the audience are ready to watch such films, and so when the need arises, we need to attempt newer subjects. When we started work on Hero, all we were concerned about was to gauge if the film had the emotions that would resonate with the audience. We are confident that it meets the requirement,” he says.

The inclusion of the superhero costume and a superbike has been done keeping these requirements in mind, he adds.

“It is not the case that since I’m the superhero I qualify to have a costume and a vehicle by default. There are little details which clarify why and how these props are required. Only when we steer the audience away from thinking ‘why did this happen’ to ‘what’s going to happen next’ can we achieve success in these films,” he adds.

Kalyani Priyadarshan (left) with Sivakarthikeyan

Kalyani Priyadarshan (left) with Sivakarthikeyan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

And as any actor who had ever worn one would attest, shooting with a superhero costume on is no mean task. For one, the costume is almost always thicker and heavier.

“Thankfully, we did not make one using rexine! The concept was to create a suit that should appear as if it was put together using whatever available material. It is not a stylish superhero costume, and a lot of hard work went into making it look that way,” he says. The superbike that we see him use in the trailer too was custom-built.

In Hero, Sivakarthikeyan’s character takes on a formidable antagonist in Abhay Deol, who also makes his début in Tamil cinema with Hero.

“We were looking for a star, but also someone who had not already been exposed to Tamil audience. Mithran suggested Abhay Deol’s name. He is an experienced actor, and as a villain, it would be difficult trying to comprehend what he is about to do next. He put a lot of effort into learning his lines to get the lip sync correct,” the actor concludes.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 11:07:35 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/the-sivakarthikeyan-template-will-fade-away/article30347346.ece

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