Sikkil Gurucharan: Rajiv Menon sir is an excellent actor
The Carnatic singer-actor, who recently starred in Putham Pudhu Kaalai, talks about his acting sojourn, the future of Carnatic music, and more
Sikkil Gurucharan made his feature film debut as a musician judging a reality show in Rajiv Menon’s Sarvam Thaala Mayam. Although it was a short role, it was right in the comfort zone for the Carnatic singer who was testing waters in cinema. In the recently released Amazon Prime Video anthology, Putham Pudhu Kaalai, Rajiv brings Gurucharan back in front of the camera. This time too, he plays a musician, but with a twist.
“During the lockdown, Rajiv sir told me about a project that would be perfect for me — the character of a young guy, a doctor with a music background. I said yes because I was comfortable in Rajiv sir’s space,” says Gurucharan, who reveals that he first thought the director called him for a singing opportunity.
Not being a trained actor, Gurucharan credits all his acting chops to his director and the reading sessions they had ahead of the shoot. “Rajiv sir is a fantastic actor, and I just followed whatever he told me. The way he acted out a scene was very helpful. He made sure that he got the best out of me.”
Although Gurucharan’s connection with cinema so far has revolved around Rajiv’s works, he has had brief brushes with film music too. “There was a time when I was balancing recording jingles, chorus, and Carnatic music. But then, because of my family and audience support, I chose the Carnatic music path. Actually, way back in 2005-06, I sang a song for Ilaiyaraaja sir. Being a huge fan, I was looking forward to the release of that nice melody song, but it hasn’t come out yet.”
Set during the lockdown, Reunion, Rajiv Menon's short in Putham Pudhu Kaalai also features Andrea Jeremiah and Leela Samson. With Rajiv also having a rich arts background, Gurucharan found it quite comfortable to work with this bunch of artists. “It was like a nice family get-together. While I've known Andrea since my live concert days, I’ve had so much interaction about music and dance with Leela akka. It was the same with Rajiv sir too,” says Gurucharan.
The shooting of Reunion was quite an experience, the singer tells us. Seeing Gurucharan sporting a beard in one of his concerts, Rajiv advised him to maintain the look. “During the script reading, I had the beard, and so, they decided to go ahead shoot the film in reverse. They wanted the beard to give the character a lived-in feel. So, we shot the final sequences first and then went on to film the opening scenes towards the end. It was novel, for sure, and it was interesting to see Rajiv sir and the crew adapt to these conditions.”
Talking about adapting to new changes, Carnatic music is at an interesting crossroads, and Gurucharan believes the lockdown has actually brought artists closer to their audience. “Since the pandemic started, artists have started interacting with the audience more, and the gap between them has greatly reduced. This December season will mostly be online, and all my kutcheris will be shot in an auditorium and streamed for a worldwide audience,” says Gurucharan, adding, “I know it isn’t the same, but nothing else can be done. Safety is paramount.”