Cinema

Simple simple little star

Do you have a success formula?

It is the script that decides the fate of the film. My USP is excellent story, well-written screenplay, good direction and good casting. I ensure that my films are purely commercial and packaged accordingly.

None of the films that I have produced have vulgar dialogues, crass comedy, or sermonising. I sincerely adhere to quality, without compromising on technology. That is the reason I produce my films.

You have given back-to-back hits.

Content is king. Even great actors cannot succeed if they select a bad story. Story selection is the biggest responsibility that I handle by myself. One-liners or just the premise don’t work for me. I listen to the narration from the scriptwriter/director. I purely go by my instinct, and I use my judgement.

How does it feel to be a

successful star?

Me? A star? I have no sense of achievement; I am just trying to be level-headed and firmly grounded. I feel fresh, like a school-going boy, always willing and eager to learn, improve and excel.

What do you think made Pichaikaaran a huge success?

Audiences could instantly connect with the story, relate to the situation of the protagonist. And most importantly, the Amma sentiment went down very well.

Are you evolving as an actor?

Honestly, I am not a good actor, but because I insist on a good story, I have the confidence that I can deliver a good-quality film. I camouflage my shortcomings by using technology. From Naan to Saithan and Yaman (his upcoming film), I have not grown or evolved as an actor. That is why I dig out the best story, and rope in the best crew. I improvise a lot at the dubbing stage, because I would have fumbled while shooting.

Will you work with top heroines?

I am not excited about acting with top-ranked heroines. It is not easy to get the dates of top heroines, so I have never tried it. Also, my budget does not allow it. But if the script demands heroines of such magnitude, I will surely go ahead.

How about on-screen romancing?

Vijay Antony is a romantic person, but he prefers not to romance unless the script requires it. Even then, romantic song sequences are in wmontage, and never just running around the trees or doing a dance number.

What if you have to play a cop role? Are you game for a six-pack?

( Chuckles) I don’t believe that an actor has to look good or be fit. Even in Pichaikaaran, I did not go on a dieting spree or take efforts to look like a real-life beggar, other than growing a beard. I just tied a dirty bandana around my head, smeared some kajal on my face and body, wore soiled clothes and passed off as a beggar. The audience accepted me. That is why I repeatedly say that only the script and direction matter. And if I have to play a cop role, I’d rather play a policekaaran with thoppai!

How do you select titles for your films?

I just use common sense and go with the flow. The title has to be apt. What other title can you think of for Pichaikaaran? Salim, Pichaikaaran and Saithan were titles chosen by me, and the titles of my other films were chosen by the directors.

The industry calls you ‘collection king’.

I consider myself one among the audience, who pay Rs. 120 and watch the film. My knowledge of cinema is also that of an audience only, which I believe is also my strong point. With the success of Pichaikaaran in Andhra Pradesh, my fan base has expanded, and I think I must focus only on meeting audience expectations and living up to the trust and faith they have in me. My strong point is my fan base. A majority of the audience for my films comprises family audiences, especially women and children. I am responsible to my fans.

Your fans call you ‘Simple Star’.

Do Arnold Schwarzenegger or Mel Gibson have such titles? I feel embarrassed. Being a shy person, I don’t even like being garlanded at functions.

What next?

Saithan, a psychological thriller, is ready for release during the second week of November. I am currently winding up the shooting of Yaman, a political thriller, slated for release in December. From next year, I will be focussing on just two films (bilingual, because of my fan following in Telugu-speaking states). I don’t listen to any stories until I am ready for the next film. As always, I wish to give a chance to debut directors, mainly because they think out of the box and come up with good stories; they are talented and hard-working. And of course, I am learning Telugu.

Has the industry been supportive?

The industry has been watching me and cannot afford to be indifferent to my growth. I have garnered the attention of those in the trade by repeatedly giving hits. Today, the response I get from within the industry is positive. But I generally don’t pay attention to where I am slotted or how I am categorised.

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Printable version | Oct 26, 2020 12:46:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/Simple-simple-little-star/article16072156.ece

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