'I am still a hero'
Sarath Kumar, whose Chennaiyil Oru Naal 2 released this past Diwali, talks to CE about the film and more.
Actor-politician Sarath Kumar is 60 plus, but you wouldn't know it if you saw him. He wants his film career to be as fit, and says he wants more challenging roles. "I have never had too much expectation regarding my films," he says. After a long time, he has had a Diwali release this year in Chennaiyil Oru Naal 2.
You've done more than 140 films. What keeps you going?
Filmmaking as a process has evolved over these years. We have access to Hollywood films today, and people are open to different scripts. As an actor, I am clear about the kind of roles I want to do. But I still haven't understood why certain films work, and some don't. There are very few filmmakers who understand this.
What do you look for in films?
When I hear a script, it should read like a novel. That is what excites me. I am not talking about adapting novels into films. Overall, history interests me, and I like films like Baahubali. I'd love to work on Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose biopics. I think our epics like Mahabharata have so much potential for great stories. My dream is to play either Duryodhana or Karna. I won't mind even doing something like Babel (2006), or Arjun Reddy. These aren't conventional mainstream stories. Of course, it's challenging to narrate these stories in a commercial way. Filmmaking is a business after all.
Any interest in returning to negative roles?
I don't want to do villain roles in Tamil cinema anymore, but I am open to doing them in other languages. Currently, I am playing the villain in Allu Arjun's film. The role is half-comical.
Your latest release, Chennaiyil Oru Naal 2, came alongside Mersal. Any apprehensions?
We never planned it for Diwali, and in any case, I don't believe in comparing my film with somebody else's. Every film has its audience. At the end of the day, people decide which film they want to watch. I felt no pressure. Take Sandamarutham, for instance. I thought I should get the film released on a specific day, but didn't do it as my producers came with a different date. There's nothing called a right time or date. You just trust your instincts and proceed.
In Chennaiyil Oru Naal 2, you again play a cop.
My dad wanted me to become a cop when I was young. That's probably why I like doing such roles. In this film, I investigate a case over a single day. By the way, do you know that I once nabbed a guy with the help of real-life policemen? If the crime branch gives me such cases, I'd love to solve them. (Laughs)
I can't separate reel and real life. Whatever I can do in cinema, I believe I can do in real life. For instance, if I had to beat up somebody for the right reasons, I will. I still feel like a hero.
After Thalaimagan, you never returned to directing films.
I have two complete bound scripts. One is titled Yogi, which is about eating habits and how they don't determine the religion you belong to. I met Jayendra Saraswati of Shankara Mutt regarding this and had discussions. I play a brahmin in this film. He was okay with everything except the brahmin-eating-non vegetarian food bits. (Laughs). It will be like a Shankar film where I come out of the water all of a sudden with a six pack and sacred thread. I have researched about Vedas and aspects related to Hinduism, and vegetarianism. I am very thrilled about this project.
What are your future projects?
I have Rendaavadhu Aattam and Nallaasiriyar in the pipeline. Rendaavadhu Aattam again is a cop story but has a gripping screenplay. I'll be shooting for the film from December.
Can we expect a sequel to any of your other films?
Why not? Arasu and Nattamai can make for good franchises.