People still know me as the Sandakozhi villain: Lal
The Malayalam actor marked his return to Tamil cinema with last week's release Antony
For an actor who is known for playing villain roles in Tamil cinema, it's surprising how soft-spoken Lal is. And by the time you get used to that, his proficient Tamil surprises you next. "I do get a lot of chances from Tamil cinema but it's predominantly for villain roles, and I feel typecast. I was waiting for a good role when Antony happened," says Lal, explaining his short hiatus from Tamil cinema.
The actor agrees that the typecasting is on account of films like Sandakozhi in which he played the villain. "These days, there are films which don't carry title cards, and if they do, it's just for the hero. So a lot of people in Tamil Nadu don't know my name, and still acknowledge me as the Sandakozhi villain. Interestingly, I'm also a part of Sandakozhi 2, and my role in it will be a surprise."
Antony, which has opened to mixed reviews, was chosen by Lal, for its fresh cast and crew. "There's a lot to learn from newcomers. I write scripts and direct, and it's a departure to get to work with young minds who love experimental films," says Lal, who shares that he was impressed with the film's story idea. "It's different from what we have seen till date. The storytelling style is also new; naturally, there's a bit of a risk but that's what usually pays off." Lal plays a doting father in Antony who is concerned and possessive about his son. "I do positive roles in Malayalam but for the Tamil audience, I'm always a villain (laughs). The director (Kuttii Kumar) wanted to break that," says Lal who has quite a few Tamil films lined up.
First to release after Sandakozhi 2 will be Sivakarthiyan's Seema Raja in which he plays "an interesting villain". Surprisingly, Lal hadn't seen any Sivakarthikeyan films when he met him. "That's why I have taken a step back from direction as well because it's all about learning what's going on around you. I used to watch at least one film a day but I haven't kept myself updated on the latest Tamil and Malayalam films in recent times," says Lal, who adds that he's watched almost all of Siva's film after their shoot for the film. "I enjoyed Remo - especially the scenes where he dresses up as a nurse. He's very sweet and ennoda thambi mathiri aagitaaru."
The actor is also a part of Prabhas' trilingual, Saaho. "We've been working on the film since last year and have completed three schedules in Hyderabad and Abu Dhabi. We've still got some shooting left in Hyderabad and Europe. Director Sujeeth is very keen that even the film's genre not be revealed," says Lal who recently Instagrammed a picture of him along with Prabhas from the sets. The jovial Lal says, "Even the director was skeptical about me sharing the picture but I cajoled him saying that Prabhas wasn't sporting the film's look in it. So I'm not going to commit another mistake by talking about the film (laughs), but I'm sure it'll be an important project in my career. Interestingly, Sujeeth has seen more of my Malayalam films than anyone in my own family," says Lal, who is currently busy shooting for a Tamil film titled Godfather directed by debutant director Jagan.