Nikil Murukan: The lockdown made me take up acting

PRO-turned-actor Nikil Murugan, who makes his acting debut as a cop in Vijay Sri G's Powder, talks about the film and more
Nikil Murukan: The lockdown made me take up acting

Veteran PRO Nikil Murukan is a familiar face at film events. From setting up the audio-visual content to lining up chairs for the celebrities on stage, he can be seen being a bundle of energy, and often stands out due to his eccentric wardrobe as well that’s defined by flashy colours and unique patterns. He will have to unlearn many of these qualities, as he dons the khakhi for his first role as a lead in Vijay Sri G’s Powder. “Vijay felt that the role of a serious cop, with a fun side to him, aligned with my own persona. I asked him if he truly believed that I could do justice to the role. When he said yes, we went ahead after about 15 days of rehearsal.”

For someone as closely associated with cinema, Powder, naturally, was not his first acting offer. “Vignesh Shivan offered me Anandraj sir’s role in Naanum Rowdy Dhaan. I needed to spend five whole days in Pudhucherry for the shoot and knew that my absence would affect my PR work for other filmmakers,” explains Nikil, who has done cameos in films like Sivaji, JK Enum Nanbanin Vaazhkai, and Jay Jay. So, what changed now? “Covid-19.”

The pandemic, he says, caused him to introspect a lot. “I took up an online course in digital marketing during this time, and when I came across an interesting online acting course, I thought to give it a shot as well,” says Nikil, who also credits the positive effect that acting coach and actor Kalairani had on him. “She always felt I could be a good supporting actor.”

Does this mean he has put his day job as a PR on hold? “Of course not. As Powder is a film that happens over a single night, the shoot happened only after my working hours,” says Nikil. “Instead of allotting time for sleeping, I allotted sleep when I could find time.”

Being a Kamal Haasan fan, Nikil requested Vijay Sri to name the cop character, Raghavan. “I travelled with him for Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu, and that character was a huge inspiration. All actors want to act as a cop in their career, and I'm glad I am doing this in my first film.”

For someone who began his career as a journalist, and then moved on to PR, Nikil has come a long way. Naturally, he had concerns about how the present social media generation would take to his turn as an actor. “I knew that were something to go wrong, the trolling would be merciless. Thankfully, everyone seems to have found it to be convincing,” says Nikil. “Bharathiraja sir told me that he regretted missing out on this dimension in me; PC Sreeram sir praised my screen presence. Everyone appreciated my voice and how uninhibited I seemed.” He goes on to share a technique he followed to shed his inhibitions: “Whenever Vijay Sri said ‘Start, Camera, Action!’ I kept getting camera conscious. I requested the director to instead try saying, “Nikil, okay!’, and that worked!”

With shooting almost over now, and the investigative thriller up for release, what promotions does he have in mind for his own film? “From press meets to release strategies, we have some tricks up our sleeve,” says Nikil. “Powder might seem like a ‘small’ film, but until the end of the first show, many films like Kadhal, Subramaniapuram and Pariyerum Perumal were all thought ‘small’. I hope Powder gets celebrated like that,” signs off Nikil.

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