Karthi’s previous film Kadaikutty Singam (Tamil) became one of the biggest box office hits in his career. However, its Telugu dubbed version titled Chinna Babu did not receive the same love from the audience in the Telugu states. “Khakee (Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru in Tamil) performed very well here,” noted the actor. “The Telugu audience expects me to do different films. And Kaithi (Khaidi in Telugu) is a different film.”
The film is directed by Lokesh Kanagaraj, who impressed everyone with his debut Tamil film Maanagaram. Like the director’s previous film, the upcoming film also unfolds during nighttime.
Karthi seems to be very happy with the final cut of Kaithi. He describes the film as a “new age action film”, which is “technically superior.”
Below are edited excerpts from Karthi’s interaction with the media in Hyderabad.
Q. Tell us about Kaithi.
When the director (Lokesh Kanagaraj) approached me for the first time, he told me it was a small film. But, after hearing the narration, the opposite was the truth. It will be like Virumaandi (2004) and Die Hard (1988). The scope of the film is so big that Arnold Schwarzenegger can do this film. It is an out-and-out action film with a lot of massy elements. And the film is about the events that take place in four hours one night. When the story is set in the backdrop of night and travel, naturally there would be a lot of suspense elements. Because danger can strike from anywhere and one can’t predict it. I felt it had the potential of a huge action film. So I told the director to make the film on a big budget. And I also like my character a lot. He has spent 10 years in jail and he has a daughter that he has never seen. He doesn’t even know how she looks like. The film follows the obstacles that he faces before he could see his daughter. Whether or not he will see his daughter will be revealed in the climax.
Q. Did you find it challenging to play this character?
It was not challenging. Because I also have a daughter. If you have a daughter you will have a protective feeling. When I acted in Vikramarkudu remake, I used my imagination to play the role of a concerned father. But, for this film, it was different. I think the emotion in a father-daughter relationship is stronger than the emotion in a father-son relationship. You have a very strong protective feeling towards a daughter. The film also gave me a big scope for performance and on top of it, there was also action in the film.
Q. International content is now available for everyone, courtesy OTT platforms. Do you think it has made a film director’s job more challenging?
We can say that Kaithi is also an attempt to make an action film of international standards. The film is set in the night time and we took extra care of the lighting. So, a lot of planning went into making it visually appealing. It was a new experience for me. Even we did not go with a typical mass background score. The music is also very stylish like Hollywood movies. I feel everything is fresh in this film.
Q. Does the film have enough substance to keep the audience engaged from start to finish?
Normally, such films will have 2 hours runtime. But, we have confidently let this film run for 2 hours 20 minutes. Because there is enough thrill in the content. The emotion and content in the film is strong. There was a dialogue in the first teaser. A night without cops patrolling the streets. We sleep peacefully at night because we know cops are patrolling. What if the cops are not available for one night? Imagine, it is very scary.
Q. Kaithi is releasing on the same day as Bigil.
Everybody wants to see films during festivals. So, there should be options for the audience (smiles). It’s not a necessity to have only one film for release. If there are two movies, the audience will choose according to their desire. If both are good films, they will watch one after another. Rajinikanth sir’s (Petta) and Ajith sir’s (Viswasam) released on the same day for Sankranthi. And both films became big hits. If a film is good, the audience themselves promote the film.
Q. What kind of research did the team do for your character?
We met some prisoners, who were in jail for 10 years. When I met them, they didn’t speak. And later when the director met them, they told us some new things. For instance, if one person is imprisoned for ten years, he sees only white colour during his jail time. They feel very happy when they come out and see different colours. And, imagine if someone goes to jail without doing a mistake? 10 years of tne person’s life disappears. We decided on what will be my character’s behaviour and mannerisms before going to shoot.
Q. Tell us about your upcoming projects?
I am doing a film with director Jeethu Joseph along with my sister-in-law Jyothika. It’s a family thriller.