Karthik: This isn't how I planned to do my first film with Gautham Karthik
The actor talks about his upcoming release Mr Chandramouli, in which he plays the reel father to a role played by his real son
For a prolific actor like Karthik, the past decade has not exactly been too productive. "Acting is joy, but despite my passion, monotony set in when I felt I was getting typecast. I just did not get the variety I craved and felt I was stagnating. But now, I am getting the kind of characters and scripts I want." He draws our attention to Mr Chandramouli, his upcoming release this week, in which he plays his son Gautham's father on screen. "The father-son relationship exists in real life and in celluloid, but it is how the subject carries my character through the film that is important here."
He regrets not getting a chance to share the screen with his own father, the late actor Muthuraman. "Enakku andha yekkam romba irundhuchu. Alaigal Oivathillai was a July release and come October 16, appa illa. This was when I had started shooting for my second film and I really felt the void. Now that I got to act with Gautham, I interact with him and understand that maybe, this is how I would have felt if I had acted with my father. It is a unique feeling."
Gautham was the one who brought Mr Chandramouli to him. "We discuss films but he has never done something like this before. He told me to listen to director Thiru's script and felt it was really up my alley. And he was right." The way his character travels over the course of the film was something that really touched Karthik. "It isn't a cliched role and that is what I loved the most about it. When you watch the film you will wonder who is the father and who is the son? Does the son become the father or the father become the son?"
(Click to read Mr Chandramouli Review)
Acting-wise, he says it was easy for him to play Gautham's father in the film. But he recalls a moment on the sets of Mr Chandramouli which was difficult for him. "I had just finished my shot and taken my seat next to the director. It was a scene where Gautham had to cry. Now I have seen him cry bucketloads as a youngster, but this was different right? It was my first time seeing him cry as a grown-up. I decided to not be around when he was shooting emotional scenes thereafter."
He is proud of his son's dedication and passion towards the craft. "He may come from a family of actors, but at the end of the day, it is what he chooses and how he represents himself that will stay on in the audience's consciousness. Your pedigree doesn't really matter in front of a discerning audience."
Karthik recollects how he tried to be consciously different when he started out in the industry. "Back then, dubbing used to be a loop system. It is not the punch system that is being used these days. You had to start from the first every time. I personally think it was good training to get the diction and emotion right. During one such time, there was an emotional scene. Naan azhuthi pesanum. And my voice sounded like my father's. I told them to stop and gave a completely different voice, as I did not want to repeat what my dad had done." However, he feels this became a bit counterproductive after a point. "I used to have such good tamil diction. After Vethala potta Shokkula, everyone started saying my voice is like that. When I hear these mimicry artists, I wonder, do I actually sound like that? (laughs)."
Gautham Karthik has said that if ever he were to do a remake of his father's film, he'd want to do Ullathai Allitha. Karthik has more suggestions. "I would love to see him do my role from Varusham 16 and Gokulathil Seethai too." And what about Mouna Raagam? "Adha vituduvom (laughs)."
But what did he feel when he heard the title Mr Chandramouli? "At that instant? Happy. But I had doubts soon after. This is the name of a character from a film that was a monstrous hit. People who come in to watch will come in with preconceived notions. What seemed like an asset at first could end up being a liability." But all such doubts were dispelled once he heard the story.
However, Karthik reveals this isn't how he planned to do his first film with Gautham. "Before Mr Chandramouli happened, the first film Gautham and I were supposed to do was a script penned by me. Our characters in it are polar opposites and not that of a father and son at all. I have written two other scripts also."
But that doesn't mean that he won't act in others' films. "I will work with whomsoever tells me a story in which my character is unique. Oru scene vandha kooda nachunu irukkanum."