The title of your latest film, Kudaikkul Mazhai, is quite interesting!
See, rain can happen even under an umbrella if you are madly in love! Kuadikkul Mazhai is a beautiful expression of a beautiful romance.
The film was shot entirely in Chennai with a budget of Rs 30 million. My new heroine Madhumita has done a wonderful job. Karthik Raja has composed the music. I have also penned a few lines with Muthukumaran.
Though I have acted with famous actresses like Khusbhoo, Nandita Das, etc., I give priority to new faces in my own productions. I believe the character should outshine the artiste. I would say, this film is an excellent combination of commercial as well as artistic components of good cinema.
What is your mantra of success?
Once I was invited to the first birthday party of my friend’s baby. The only possession that I had with me was a 50-paisa coin. How does one buy a gift with fifty paise? An idea dawned on me. I bought four glass bangles and broke them into pieces. With the carved broken pieces, I created a Vinayaka. Then, I beautifully wrapped the gift and presented it in style. When I visited them next, I saw my Vinayaka prominently displayed in the front room. My eyes turned moist with joy. When you put your heart and soul into any creation, it sure would bring joy to all. I apply the same logic in my movies too.
How do you handle your hits and flops ?
I treat both equally. I know nothing is permanent here. Artistically satisfying movies may crash at the box office. To me, as an actor, director and even as the producer, the mourning period is minimal. I try to rise above all those negative feelings immediately after any fall.
Who is the most popular one in you; the writer, the actor, the producer or the director?
All put in one. I hate to be categorized. I am a creative artiste and that is the end of it.
Your national award-winning film, Houseful, was not a commercial success though it was different. Were you disappointed?
Of course, I was disappointed. I felt it deserved a lot more recognition. I was happy that it did well in Kerala and also many rural areas. I had acted as a 70-year-old in it, and that was a very satisfying experience. Also, it gave a good break to Vikram.
Who is you role model in cinema?
None. I started my carrier as an assistant director to Bhagyaraj. I admire him for his uncompromising thirst for perfection. Sivaji (Ganesan) was my favorite during my childhood days. His mastery over dialogue delivery used to turn me spellbound. But MGR was the ultimate in those days. I adored him for his socially relevant roles. Those goody-goody roles earned him the image of a good samaritan - saviour of the poor.I wanted to be like him, as his was a case of the off-screen and on-screen images blending and emerging into one.
Gradually, I got over the obsession, and decided that I should be convincing on screen whether I enact good characters or bad characters. And in real life, one should always remain a good human being.
Later on, Nana Patekar has influenced me a lot as an actor and a person.
Cheran had directed you in Bharathi Kannamma and Vetrikodi Kattu but when Cheran was ready with Autograph. We hear that it was you who persuaded him to be the hero.
I am happy that I am instrumental in making Cheran a good hero. Cheran is a good friend of mine. I have seen him enjoying himself getting himself photographed in different poses and expressions. I used to wonder then, why can't he act in films? Finally, when Autograph was under production, I took the opportunity and persuaded him to act.