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GM Sundar: Young filmmakers are etching great supporting characters- Cinema express

GM Sundar: Young filmmakers are etching great supporting characters

GM Sundar, who played the role of a boxing coach, Duraikannu Vaathiyar, in the recently released Sarpatta Parambarai, talks about his character and all the adulation that has been coming his way

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Published: 26th July 2021

In a career spanning well over three decades, sprawling from Punnagai Mannan in 1986 to the recently released Sarpatta Parambarai, GM Sundar's filmography illustrates a high degree of selectivity. “I never wanted to be a run-of-the-mill actor. Throughout my career, I have been mindful about choosing only those films that allow me to shine as a performer,” says GM Sundar, an erstwhile member of Koothu-P-Pattarai and Pareeksha theatre groups. “Studying Stanislavski’s theory in the film institute inclined me towards the visual language. However, theatre is essential for acquiring experience in histrionics, voice modulation, and body language. After training in theatre for five years, I plunged into cinema."

Apart from Sarpatta Parambarai, his recent acting credits include well-received titles like Kadhalum Kadandhu PogumSeethakaathiMagamuni, and Mandela. The actor notes that the younger crop of filmmakers have brought in better writing. “Young filmmakers are giving importance to the detailing and characterisation of supporting actors as well, a rarity three decades ago. There might have been exceptions, but holistically speaking, the scope for character artists has increased now. They are etching great characters; this is why these roles stand out regardless of the actor's age and screen-time,” says the actor.

Sundar’s latest outing sees him play a stern Duraikannu Vaathiyar, the mentor of the Idiyappam Parambarai, determined to take down rivals, Sarpatta Parambarai in the boxing ring. “The film’s entire cast underwent a 12-day workshop to get a hang of the characters, culture, and the time frame the film is set in. As I was playing a boxing coach, I had to undergo rudimentary boxing training to get the basics right, and of course, learn the North Chennai diction. Our casting got confirmed only after this workshop, and I hope everyone can see the effort we have put in.”

Sundar, who played the protagonist in the National Award-winning 2003 film, Ooruku Nooruper, is glad that Pa Ranjith welcomed his improvisation. “While learning acting theory in film school, improvisation was an important subject, and it came in handy for Sarpatta Parambarai. Be it yawning, putting on glasses, or the way Duraikannu Vaathiyar wears his thundu, these are minute etiquettes I brought to the table, and Ranjith allowed me to perform,” says Sundar, adding that he will next be seen playing a “superb role” in the Ranjith-produced Writer.

What’s his main takeaway from Sarpatta Parambarai? “I never knew that boxing had such a dedicated following in North Madras. Having grown up in South Madras in the ‘70s, I remember having seen pictures of boxers in saloons, but that was it. This film introduced me to a world that I had only vaguely known.” The last few days have been quite eventful for the actor. “The phone continues to ring with congratulatory messages and calls. People are picking up nuances like diction and even my sitting postures. This recognition is overwhelming,” Sundar signs off.

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