Actors can't be choosy about scripts: Azhagam Perumal
The director-turned-actor talks to CE about his role in Taramani and his plans to get back to direction
After directing Dumm Dumm Dumm, Joot and Udhaya, Azhagam Perumal made his acting debut in Alaipayuthey. There's since been no looking back for the actor who has gone on to play a variety of roles under many top filmmakers like Selvaraghavan, Mani Ratnam, and now, Ram, whose Taramani has him playing an important role. He remembers with much fondness how he came to make his debut in Alaipayuthey. "I was directing Udhaya when I went to casually meet Mani sir while he was shooting Alaipayuthey. He was looking for an actor who could pull off the character of a Malayali house owner. He told me that the role is of a drunkard with an existential look on life," he says. "He said that when drunk, the character should be like Mohanlal, and when sober, like Mammootty. I know Malayalam as I belong to Nagercoil, and so, I asked him if I could do the role."
Azhagam Perumal has been appreciated for his performance as Barnabas in the recently-released Taramani. "After we worked together in Kattradhu Thamizh, I was supposed to do Ram's father role in Thanga Meengal. But the role demanded that it be played by someone older. Ram has a strong connection with Tirunelveli and its people, so he modelled my character in Taramani on someone from there. I believe that if we get our slang and body language right, 50 per cent of the acting is already done. My character in Kattradhu Thamizh also spoke the same dialect and when I asked him if he was sure I should do it again, he jokingly asked me to think of it as a sequel to my character (laughs)."
The actor thinks his character adds "warmth" to Taramani. He says, "Barnabas's character is in stark contrast to the leads and that's how Ram wanted. If the leads represent the current generation, my character represents the previous one that usually doesn't compliment the contributions of a woman. I think of Barnabas as the 'manasatchi' of Taramani." He is lavish in praise for Ram. "I wasn't sure if his voice over would work but I think it has done magic. He worked under Balu Mahendra sir, but I feel Ram has a style of his own. He doesn't follow a pattern. I think he doesn't have a script either (laughs). In one scene, he explained the context, gave me a wide frame and told me to act as I deemed fit. He just throws these ideas and gives us the independence to perform it. I love how he extracts performances."
Azhagam Perumal isn't choosy about his scripts. "An actor cannot wait for the right role. One should do all the roles he gets as long as the character has decent weightage. If we're choosy, we would have to wait for a long time. Films such as Puthupettai, Aayirathil Oruvan and Taramani all happened that way," he says. The actor is confident that there'll be sequels to Puthupettai and Aayirathil Oruvan. "Both Selvaraghavan and Dhanush are up for it, and we discuss the possibilities whenever we meet."
The actor who has more than half a dozen films lined up plans to get back to direction soon. "I am in the process of writing a script now. It's been a while; so I'm trying to make sure it's a stunning story," he says. "It'll be about the differences between the generations, and will talk about the contemporary issues our society faces. While we have people taking selfies with their mothers, I feel that the affection isn't what we saw in previous generations."