For Karthi, his professional journey has come full circle after playing the lead role in director Mani Ratnam’s upcoming film Kaatru Veliyidai. Before debuting as an actor with 2007 film Paruthiveeran, Karthi ventured into the industry as one of Ratnam’s assistant directors.
“I was just back from the US. I met Mani sir in his office and asked him if I can join his team of assistant directors. He said, ‘you are most welcome,’ those are the first words he told me,” Karthi recalled while speaking at the audio release function of Kaatru Veliyidai in Chennai on Monday. “Working with him made me disciplined, sincere and hardworking.
Karthi’s elder brother and actor Suriya, who was a special guest at the event, also said that he and his family members were overjoyed about Karthi acting in a Ratnam’s film. “Karthi was an assistant director for Ayitha Ezhuthu and I was acting in that film. He used to manage the crowd at the shooting spot. And it is such an overwhelming feeling that today he has played the lead role under Mani Ratnam’s direction. It is a big achievement for him,” said a visibly overjoyed Suriya.
Talking about the film, Karthi said he never thought he would act in a film like Kaatru Veliyidai. “I can’t say it is my dream film because it will be a lie. I never had such a good dream,” he quipped.
“When Mani sir approached me for Kaatru Veliyidai, I couldn’t believe myself. After reading the script, I asked him whether he was sure about casting me as the lead. Because I couldn’t imagine myself in this role. I lost weight and shaved off my moustache in preparation for the role. But, initially, I found it difficult to understand the fighter pilot character. So I took basic flying lessons and spent some time with real fighter pilots, which increased my respect by manifolds for them. I feel very, very honoured to be playing a fighter pilot,” Karthi said.
Ratnam also suggested that this film is sort of a tribute to the Indian armed forces and the sacrifices our soldiers make to keep our borders safe. “We were in Leh, Ladakh, Kashmir, shooting for the film. We used to pass by the Indian soldiers daily. And every time I used to wonder have we ever expressed how much we respect what they are doing for us,” he noted.
“Through this film, we wanted to pay tribute and express gratitude to the entire Indian armed forces and when we were wondering how to go about it, we got a strong support from retired Air Marshal Simmakutty. He has been a very great source of inspiration for us and gave all the required inputs about air force for this film,” Karthi added.
Bollywood actor Aditi Rao Hydari is returning to Tamil cinema with Kaatru Veliyidai, after a decade. The film’s posters and promo videos have already left an impression with the audience even before its release.
“Kaatru Veliyidai is a very special film for me. I had a small dream when I was young. And that dream has come true because of Mani sir. And Mani sir because of you, I will see many more dreams,” Aditi said at the event. Aditi also said working in a film under the Madras Talkies banner has spoilt her for life and that Mani Ratnam is not getting rid of her anytime soon.
Kaatru Veliyidai is an intense love story set in the backdrop of the Indian Air Force. Besides Karthi and Aditi, the film also has Shraddha Srinath, Rukmini Vijayakumar, RJ Balaji, Delhi Ganesh and veteran Malayalam actress Lalitha in pivotal roles. Academy-award winner AR Rahman has composed tunes for the film, which is all set to hit the screens on April 7.