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Arya: Teddy will be as visually convincing as Ted- Cinema express

Arya: Teddy will be as visually convincing as Ted

The actor talks about his film, directed by Shakti Soundar Rajan, which is premiering on Disney+Hotstar on March 19

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Published: 03rd March 2021
Arya: Teddy will be as visually convincing as Ted

News about Arya's Teddy forgoing a theatre release and landing directly on Disney+Hotstar was doing rounds long before it was made official. The actor may not be particularly excited about the film reaching televisions and mobile phones first, but it does not curtail his enthusiasm when the conversation veers to his childhood days and his favourite stuffed toys. “Like many other kids, I grew up with teddy bears and I loved singing those cute teddy rhymes,” he says. “These toys were automatically associated with a certain cuteness and were a big rage. I am confident that every person who sees Teddy will want a breathing, talking teddy bear like the one I have as a companion in this film.”

Arya, in real life, is known to be quite the social person, and so, I ask him about playing a loner in this film. He corrects me: “The story is about a guy with obsessive-compulsive disorder; he is not really an introvert. He is a person who chooses to be a recluse owing to this disorder. I found it very interesting to play such a character for the first time in my career.” This, however, isn’t the first time he is working on a film that trains its focus on child audience. Some of the events of his 2009 film, Sarvam, occurred in a pediatric clinic and a kid even played an important character in the film. Though Teddy has many elements that he believes could appeal to children, Arya prefers to dub this film a 'medical thriller'. “People may hear of this title and assume it’s a cartoon film or comedy, but it is, in fact, a medical thriller at its core, with a teddy playing one of the main characters. Shakti (Shakti Soundar Rajan) and I were keen that the story keep the audience glued, with or without the charms of the animated character.”

He surprises by sharing that the animated character in this film was not completely animated, and that they shot an actor in a teddy suit. “Many wrongly assume that the actors in this film had to imagine the character when performing. We did not. We had an actor called Gokul performing and delivering the dialogues for us, in order to make the job easier for us. The footage got reworked and masked with a CG layer to make the character appear animated.”

For any cinema connoisseur, the idea of a film called Teddy that features an animated character for over an hour, instantly brings to mind the cult Hollywood flick, Ted. Arya admits to being a big fan of the film himself but is at pains to express that this film has nothing to do with the Mark Walhberg-starrer. “You will find that both stories and how they have been executed as films are different. The only common factor our film has with the English film is the character of a live Teddy,” he says. “Shakti promised that this character would look as real and believable as Ted, despite our comparatively modest budget. We are confident that the audience will feel the same while watching it in their homes.”

Another attraction is the presence of Magizh Thirumeni (who directed Arya in Meaghamann) as an actor in this film. Arya notes that the director-turned-actor exudes the same enthusiasm and focus in front of the camera as he does behind it. “He is as dedicated and flexible as an actor. He comes to the shoot with stunning clarity and does not rest until he sees satisfaction in Shakti's eyes. He even underwent a significant physical transformation for our film.”

Going forward, Arya hopes to entertain his fans with an unpredictable list of films. “Nobody wants to see the actor play the same roles again. My 2021 releases, Teddy, Sarpatta Parambarai and Aranmanai 3, are all different films. I planned for them to be this way as I didn't want creative fatigue to set in.” He clarifies that he loves commercial entertainers as much as genre-specific films. “I love living in both worlds. They both have their perks, and it would be impossible for me to prefer one over the other.”

The actor, who had bulked up for Pa Ranjith’s Sarpatta Parambarai, shares that he is game for such transformations if the script is interesting and demands that of him. “I wouldn't have second thoughts about putting on weight and looking even overweight for a character. The fact that I’m a fitness freak would never come in the way of my transformation for a character.” He says that for an actor, being emotionally strong is as essential as physical fitness.

Talking of the challenges the pandemic posed him, he explains, “Teddy was almost ready to hit the theatres when the pandemic struck. I had to endure a long waiting period where we had no idea about the release status. Sarpatta on the other end was half-complete. During the lockdown, I had to retain the same physical fitness levels of a boxer, while also making sure I was not losing my heart.” He signs off, sharing that he loved the process despite it being taxing. “The lockdown was hard on me as a professional. It was tougher than I could ever imagine, but this is a battle I have chosen out of love. I choose to love all the challenges that come along with it.”

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