Cinema

On the highway of fame

Filmmakers make films for the audience, so all the commercial aspects matter, says Aari.  

Actor Aari spent two years trying to breathe life into the character of a highway robber Murugan in Nedunchalai. And his efforts have paid off. His phone hasn’t stopped ringing ever since the film released. Congratulatory messages have been pouring in from the film fraternity and the critics. He says he just wants to live in the moment. “I made changes in my lifestyle to bring perfection to the character. Murugan is a left-hander; so I started training myself using the left hand at home and while gymming. The story is set in the 70s, so I had to work to get the accent of the period right. During the shooting, I had to chase trucks barefoot and ended up with bruises. But all the pain vanishes now,” he says.

Nedunchalai is about the notorious robber Thaarpai Murugan of the 70s in Madurai. “People in Theni and Madurai told me that my performance gave them a peek at his life,” he says.

His new film Dharani, directed by Guhan Sambandam, is up for release in June. “It’s a fresh team and the story is set in a rural backdrop of Chennai. It is about three middle-class guys running a hotel and I play one of them. I have two looks in the film,” he says.

Aari chooses his films carefully. In his first film Aadum Koothu, he played the lead. The film also co-starred director Cheran, Navya Nair, and it won the best regional language cinema award. Then, he acted in director Shankar’s production Rettai Suzhi, where he performed with legends such as director Bharathiraja and Balachander. His Maalai Pozhudin Mayakathiley set in a café is an experimental film. “I strongly believe that it’s the story that chooses you. Director Krishna felt that Nedunchalai will work for me. As an actor, I want to be responsible.” He says ‘yes’ to any story that engages him. “I am listening to more stories and am very careful about not repeating a character.”

About offbeat films, he says, “A fresh approach always works. And, it has to be entertaining too. Though Nedunchalai is a road movie, there are songs, action, romance, comedy and even an item number. Filmmakers make films for the audience, so all the commercial aspects matter.”

The social media has ensured that a good film works. “Every one out there is a critic. When they like it, they support it and, in turn, it brings the audience to the theatres. Short filmmakers such as Karthik Subbaraj, Nalan Kumaraswamy and Balaji Mohan have tasted success with feature films and have shown the way for upcoming filmmakers,” he says.

Among the recent films, Aari rates Vijay Milton’s Goli Soda as a brave attempt. He says, “It entertained the audience, yet retained the identity of the director and conveyed a social message. When such films work, it sets a healthy trend for the industry.”

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 9:10:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/on-the-highway-of-fame/article5928995.ece

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