Suriya: Working on NGK was like going to an ashram
The star, whose political film with Selvaraghavan, NGK, hits the screens this Friday, talks about his experience working with the filmmaker
When NGK was announced, the combination of Suriya and Selvaraghavan evoked a mixture of excitement and curiosity. Coming at the end of the heated election cycle, this political film sends Suriya back to his experimental past, whilst also connecting with his Aayutha Ezhuthu days. The actor shares his thoughts in this exclusive interview.
Why did you insist on a U certificate, despite NGK being an intense political film?
Certain scenes were muted, but there were no visual cuts. We have shot everything organically, and we wanted it to be communicated that way.
In an interview, you've said that you planned on working with Selvaraghavan a long time ago. How has he evolved over the years?
I'm a big fan of Selva, and I've been waiting for 19 years to collaborate with him. The Tamil producers (Dream Warrior Pictures) wanted to bankroll a film in our combination. His emotional spectrum is different from people like you and me. It was completely like going into a new world, and each day has been a different experience. He manipulates you smartly, and purposefully pretends to be another person on the sets. He is a tough taskmaster and wants everything to be perfect. He takes quite a lot of time to okay shots, and we used to wait for his approval, which was a big relief for us (smiles).
In Aayutha Ezhuthu, you played an aspiring politician. How's NGK going to be?
Aayutha Ezhuthu was a non-linear film with a lot of different ingredients. We have seen several films depicting the political scenario, and like every other Selva film, NGK too has many layers. NGK takes off from a common man's perspective of politics. It's about how this common man, without any political backing, is pulled into the system, and made to face the ensuing troubles.
The film touches on real-life politics. Did you prepare for the role with caution?
Preparation doesn’t help in this case, as Selva is someone who will change your perception completely on location. By requesting me to not memorise the dialogues, he put me in a situation that I'm not used to. As for the story, we didn’t have an individual or a single political party as a reference point. We did thorough research and analysed what happened in the past. We haven’t dramatised an incident or a scenario, and I can confidently say that the film doesn’t directly target anyone. The film starts off in a village and shifts to the town. Selva has balanced all the elements well. I’m sure everybody will relate to this story, and my characterisation.
NGK is said to be Selva's take on contemporary politics. Do your views coincide with his?
The film is a mix of reality and fiction. In most of my films, I would want to be morally right and unapologetic, but in NGK, there is some shift in the thought process, as I didn’t find the need to be right always. I definitely connected with a lot of dialogues in the film, especially the climax sequences. I can confidently say that the events in the film can never be predicted.
How was it working with Selvaraghavan?
It took him 18 months to write this film. He took care of both the script and screenplay. Selva not only conceives a scene well, but is also a fantastic actor. He always yearns to give a different and earnest cinematic experience, without compromising on anything. He has been consistently doing that for all these years by giving us unique films. I don't see another Selvaraghavan in our industry. Who do you think can be another Selvaraghavan? Working on this film was like going to an ashram.
What's the status of your film with Jyotika?
I would love to collaborate with her again. So far, I have listened only to the first half from the director, and it will take some time for everything to materialise.
Has your image-trap ever hindered your choice of films?
I was born as Saravanan, and my screen name is Suriya. The latter is a brand and Saravanan works for Suriya. However, I don’t want to confine myself to this brand. My production is an extension of my brand. That’s the reason I have produced small-budget films under my banner and I will continue doing that. As an actor too, I don’t want to make any compromises, and I'm enjoying what I'm doing.
How's your first biopic film, Soorarai Pottru shaping up?
It’s not a biopic, to be frank. We were inspired by what Captain GR Gopinath has done and wanted to adapt his story to the big screen. My friendship with director Sudha goes back to my Aayidha Ezhuthu days and she has been my Rakhi sister. I have huge respect for her craft. She waited for three years to get this film launched.
Is there a character you'd want to do a biopic on?
I would love to play Jagan Anna (Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Designate YS Jagan Mohan Reddy) in his biopic if the makers come with a good script
What's your film with director Siva about?
I’m excited about the backdrop of his script. And I’m stepping out of my comfort zone and doing that film. Take the example of Amitabh Bachchan films! You'll have a good story, wholesome entertainment, and at the same time, lots of scope for performance. I see something similar happening with this film.