How do you feel to be recognized as a Star?
The public adulation is something new. I am witnessing the crowds who gather to see me and I donít grudge the new popularity because itís the public who made my film a hit.
Did you anticipate the film to be a big hit?
Frankly, I was totally jittery before the release of 'Autograph'. Trade predicted that it would be a big flop .Now looking back I wonder at my guts in having taken such a big step. How could a film with no big heroes draw the crowds? But after the release, with the movie doing well with a 100 per cent opening at all theatres, I was relaxed. It's given new hope to film-makers who want to make such different films. A lot of the audience is identifying with the film, the characters and the incidents. I'm getting so many calls from people from all walks of life, telling me that such incidents have happened in their lives too. That they've also had Kamalas, Latikas and Divyas in their lives, crushes and infatuations, platonic friendships and that they had ultimately compromised.
What made you take up to playing the hero?
No heroes had dates. So I was forced to play the role myself. I don't blame them. Many who saw the film felt that the role has come out naturally because I had played it. I personally feel that if a hero had played the part he would chipped in with his own unique style to the role. After I saw the film, I felt that I could have done it better. Probably, others like a Prabhu Deva or a Vikram may have played Senthil differently. They have a mass image. So I may have had to re-structure the character and scenes to suit them. But now with the film doing well, there are no complaints. Everything is of the past.
Is the character of Senthil autobiographical?
(Laughs) It's 50 per cent of me. Some incidents are taken from my friend's life. Divya was a dream character. I had dreamt of meeting a friend like this, a smart, modern, English-speaking girl during my salad days.
Your experience as a producer
Frankly, I didn't find anyone to put money in my film. As a producer I avoided many fights, 'item' numbers and comedy scenes. I've also the freedom to promote my film and even send it to film festivals abroad. My earlier Producers missed such an opportunities.
Will acting and lyric writing be a permanent feature of yours in future?
The subject was close to me, so I could write the lyrics of the song 'Nyabagam Varuthe...'with feeling. But I'm not into lyric writing, and I'm not a competition for lyric-writers! I'll be more into direction than acting. 'Director' Cheran is a continuous process. 'Actor' Cheran is a weapon I can fall back in times of need.
So you have signed many autographs?
I am personally against signing autographs. I tell in all my functions not to come with autograph books. Collection of autographs of artistes serves no purpose. I ask the public not to worship the stars and instead the stars must fall at the feet of the public for itís their adulation that has given the stars the much-needed luxurious life.