Monday, Jan 30, 2023

Second Chance

The superstar of Tamil cinema makes his debut in Hindi films with Rakht Charitra II. Suriya is hoping to be accepted for the portrayal of a real-life character from Andhra Pradesh’s political scenario.

The superstar of Tamil cinema makes his debut in Hindi films with Rakht Charitra II. Suriya is hoping to be accepted for the portrayal of a real-life character from Andhra Pradesh’s political scenario.

You have been acting in Tamil films since 1997. And after almost 13 years of reigning supreme there,you are making your debut in Hindi films.
Actually,I am very proud to be here,in Chennai,as it is the audience and the society that has made me their hero. My father is the popular actor Sivakumar. Though I am a star-son,initially it was difficult proving myself and for five years and eight films,I did not see any success. I think it was their (fans’) way of not approving my work that they helped me to become choosy and select the right films,I saw immense hits as I began to deliver what they wanted from me.

Since I was happy doing Tamil films,it never occured to me to come to Bollywood. Though I respect Hindi cinema,it was not my immediate necessity. I do some pretty good films,in not so big -budgets,yet the recovery is decent. This is because of the fan following I have in Chennai as well as overseas like mainly Sri Lanka and Malaysia.

Yes,with Rakht Charitra,I am making my debut in Hindi films. It is a total new audience for me and my only wish is that I am accepted here.

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Now that you have finally done a Hindi film,how would you describe the experience?
Comfortable. But like I said earlier,though I respect Bollywood and am in awe of the films made here for the aesthetics and the fact that makers have not run out of ideas,I still feel we have better scripts and concepts in South. Yet I am happy to have ‘tasted’ both. I know I have a backing in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. However,I only hope is that Mumbai as well as North India also accepts me after this film though I am a new face for them.

Rakht Charitra II is not the regular kind of film. It doesn’t have any song and dance in it. But I assure you that it will take the audience to a new kind of experience. Since it is a real-life story,it has reality in it,it makes real people come live on screen. The emotions are real and earthy. For me Rakht Charitra II is a very special film.

Since it is a biographical tale of Paritala Ravi,a murder accused and one of the most feared individuals ever in the blood-ridden faction politics of South India,and you are playing the character of Suryanarayana Reddy who opposed him,what kind of research did you have to do to portray the character?
I am very particular about the characters that I play on screen and whenever necessary,I do research. But for Rakht Charitra II,I did not do any homework,the reason being that Ramu designs his films so perfectly that it is a very easygoing experience for his team. I simply followed his instructions and did what was needed to fit into the character. Everyone knows that there is a purpose for a certain shot where Ramu is concerned. He understands the nuances of filmmaking. The actors just leave it to him.


As for the character that I play,it is amazing that all this happened was just about ten hours drive from my hometown and I was not aware of the severity of the happenings on the political front then.

During the seven years that he was in jail,Suryanarayana,besides all the gory activities that he did outside it,influenced his jail-mates,irrespective of the caste or community. He was living with this vengeance in his heart. That was what excited me about the character.

Like Rakht Charitra I,isn’t this also full of violence?
I have seen a lot more violence in other films. Yes,Rakht Charitra II is a violent film but it also has emotions and a reason to why it is being done.The mental trauma of the characters have been handled so beautifully that I have never seen that in any film before.


In Rakht Charitra I,your character came towards the end. Where do you fit in part II?
The second part leads to the life of Suryanaraya Reddy (Suri) and has more of me in it. It is about how Ravi comes into Suri’s life and how thousands of people are affected because of Ravi. Ravi has many people working under him. But Suri is an one- man army,yet he is the only one who comes out triumphant. However,I see Suri as a monster who feels he is right about what he does.

So was it easy to play this character?
On the contrary. It took its toll on me. The fight sequences and the heavy dialogues got to me to a point that I got exhausted and the shooting had to be stalled for a month. I told Ramu that I wanted to look better and I worked on my body during that time. I also grew a beard,which I have never done. (Laughs)

This story is being told in two parts. Don’t you think people will be interested in it?
First,it is a new concept to have two parts of a film. It is not a sequel. This was done because the story is such that it cannot be said in two hours. It needs a certain length to narrate as it is real and has happened not very long ago,in 2005.

How would you rate Ram Gopal Varma as a filmmaker?
Ramu has handled this film very differently. And that is what I like about him. It is amazing to see how he brings out the character from an actor. Look at his films like Company or Sarkar. The character stays in your head,not the actor. Look at brilliant actors like Amitabh Bachchan in Sarkar or even Abhishek Bachchan. Ramu knows how to hit the bull’s-eye. When he came to me with the script,he was clear about what he wanted from me and for me,there was no turning back.

How was it working with Vivek Oberoi?
We go back a long way,actually during the shooting of Yuva,I played his role in the Tamil version. That was when we got a know each other and have been in touch since then. because of the camaraderie it was very comfortable working with him.


You don’t seem to have a South Indian accent while talking now. Hope you have dubbed your own Hindi lines for the film.
The accent is not prominent when talking in English. However,it is there slightly. Though my parents did send me to a good school (laughs),the credit for my slightly clear Hindi goes to Jo (actress-wife Jyothika). It is her language . She has lived in Mumbai and started her career with Hindi films before moving to South films. As for dubbing my own lines,I was given just four days by Ramu to brush up my Hindi and thought I will not be able to do it. Moreover,Ramu wanted authenticity. And since the characters are from the South,he wanted the flavour of the language to come across. So it is my own voice that you shall hear in the film.

How does it feel to have three of your Tamil hit films being remade in Hindi?
Obviously,it is a great feeling. I am lucky to have been part of these films. My films were liked immensely but I cannot take the credit for that in Hindi as they are being made with different actors of repute. Ghajini was a big film for me and Aamir Khan made it even bigger. Kaakha Kaakha made me a star. It was my first biggest hit ever and now John Abraham is playing my character. He has a status of his own and is liked by his fans. As for Singam too,Ajay Devgn is doing the role that I did in the original. Singam was a total entertainer and I assure you it will be as powerful as Dabangg.


Were you approached to do the Hindi remakes since you were responsible for the successes of the original?
No. In fact,I have been busy with my Tamil films. I have enough work on hand. Murugadoss’s Tamil film 7 Aam Arivu is due for January/February release. Right now I am in Chennai shooting for the film. We are coming together five years after Ghajini. I wanted to take a few days off to promote Rakht Charitra II but since the weather conditions is just what we require for the film,we are trying to finish as much work as possible. After this I start shooting for K.V.Anand’s untitled film in March. I am in talks with Mani Ratnam for his Ponniyam Selvam which also stars Mahesh Babu and Vikram. Right now my fingers are crossed as I enter the threshold of Hindi films.

First published on: 03-12-2010 at 19:18 IST
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