Shiva: I won't be doing multi-starrers anymore
The actor, whose solo hero subject, Tamizh Padam 2, has released to generally positive reception, talks about TP2, and his choice of films
Sobriquets are not new to Tamil cinema. Some are given by fans, some by directors who introduced the stars and some others are given by heroes to themselves. Shiva doesn't quite know who bestowed him with the sobriquet 'Agila Ulaga Superstar'. "We don't go after such names. They come to us. I'm happy with the name as space is something I'm amazed by," says Shiva. I jokingly ask if we would consider doing a space film. "The story is important. And if you guys want to produce it, why not?" he asks.
Excerpts from a conversation with the affable actor:
I noticed your caller tune is still Pacha Manja from Tamizh Padam (2010). Did you know then that you'd be doing a sequel?
First, I should change that caller tune. I had another song in between but that phone company got shut and I can't find that song now.
Almost all the spoof films in Hollywood have sequels. We could've done the sequel four years ago, but doing it now, has gives us content spanning a decade. Unlike Hollywood, we've also got a lot of sentiments as well as popular incidents that we are able to use.
Apart from film references, there are also everyday references to issues we encounter.
Even in Hollywood spoof films, you have characters taking after celebrities like Michael Jackson. It's all to make it relatable to the fans. No one will understand it if we spoofed unknown events.
What's the difference between Tamizh Padam and Tamizh Padam 2, according to you?
(With that trademark straight face) Tamizh Padam didn't have '1' written after the title but Tamizh Padam 2 has '2' written after it.
How important is a story for such a film?
It's very important as, without one, the film will become a compilation of memes. Only if there's a story, the jokes work. It's not easy to write a spoof film at all. To quote an example, it's easier to cook a dish, but mixing 10 of them to create another one is tough. If it wasn't so challenging, after Tamizh Padam, there would have been many such films.
Director CS Amudhan said his sense of humour is different from yours and that that's what makes your combination with him so successful. He also said you tended to avoid controversies.
I don't believe in controversies. I also don't like to resort to double entendres or vulgarity. Whatever we do are scenes which have been done many times and made popular; so we strive to make it funnier without diluting the story. We have even had many clashes in the creative process, but at the end of the day, it's all for the film.
What about the backlash from fans of other actors whose films are spoofed?
There's no such backlash actually. What they say is that if Shiva is doing it, we'll enjoy it. Tamil people are mature enough to consume different genres. That's why the first spoof came from our industry. Our people accept different ideas and that makes us stand apart.
Will there be a Tamizh Padam 3?
It definitely will but I don't know about my part in it. I don't think about what I'm having for dinner at noon (laughs).
How about doing a serious film?
That's not in my hands. It all comes down to the story. But I'm not sure if a producer would take that risk (smiles). A director from Mumbai wanted to do a thriller with me but when he met producers, they told him to do films such as Vanakkam Chennai and Kalakalappu. He went back to Mumbai. It looks like I will have to produce such a film myself.
So turning a producer is on the cards soon?
As well as turning a director. Whenever I get such ideas, other commitments make me busy. After Va Quarter Cutting, I went back to radio. At that time, I wrote a couple of scripts. When it was to materialise, Kalakalappu happened. I've got three scripts now, and I haven't decided which one to do, but they'll happen soon.
You seem to do a lot of multi-starrers.
The directors I've worked with have done such films. After Chennai 600028 with Venkat Prabhu, Saroja happened. Similarly, Kalakalappu happened followed by Chennai 600028: II Innings. I've now decided to not do multi-starrers for a while.
Tell us about your next release - Party.
I never sign up for a Venkat Prabhu film. He'll say he wrote a character for me and I'll be there. We debuted together; so working in the same team is fun. We're also teaming up with actors such as Sathyaraj sir, Ramya Krishnan mam, Nassar sir, Jayaram sir and Shyaam. Talking about Shyaam, I was a junior artiste in his 12B (2001). So to get to work with him now is a happy experience. Whatever respect an upcoming artiste typically has for a hero, I have that for him even today.
I haven't signed any other projects. I know that a lot of people are expecting a lot from me, so I don't want to disappoint them. I feel I have expectations to rise up to.