Atharvaa: I have learned to face the world alone
Atharvaa, who recently starred in KM Sarjun's Thunintha Pin—themed on courage—for Netflix's Navarasa talks to CE about his journey in Tamil cinema
In an interview, director Sam Anton had called Atharvaa, 'the darling of stunt choreographers', as the latter is quite famous for doing stunts. The actor’s segment in the recently released anthology, Navarasa, KM Sarjun's Thunintha Pin, was interestingly on a similar theme: courage. The actor introduces himself as an 'adrenaline junkie'. "I love the rush of blood when I do something for the first time. I had this rush when I travelled alone for the first time and bungee jumped. I feel the same when I perform risky stunts." He shares that the most daring thing he has done so far is facing a world without his father and actor Murali. "Back then, I was naïve, and slept in the comfort that my dad was in control. But I woke up the next day to learn that he had passed on. I had to learn to face life all alone. I chose courage, for the sake of my family, and the journey from then on, has made me a better man."
Excerpts from the conversation:
Murali was vocal about his insecurities as an actor, on account of his complexion. Did you have to brave this too?
Yes, but my problems were different. I had issues concerning what films I could do. Even after signing a film, I would be doubtful whether I could do justice to the role. I guess every actor feels this fear.
My debut (Baana Kathadi, 2010) was a breeze. After that though, every step felt like a challenge, as I took in too much pressure. I have now overcome it. I see it as a responsibility now, and not as pressure or insecurity.
How have your looks enabled your progress in the industry?
I try not to focus on that. Personally, I don't want to have any boundaries or limitations as an actor. I am careful not to have a checklist when looking to sign a film. When Bala sir wrote Paradesi, he didn't mind my previous films or work. All he wanted was an actor to play his character, Raasa. He moulded me to play the character. I want every filmmaker to treat me like that. Having said that, breaking stereotypes is important, and I would never want to do the same film twice.
Would you be open to playing negative characters?
Absolutely! Last year, I was considering the idea of doing a biopic of a particular icon, whose name I don't want to disclose now. But I felt I didn't have the time and mind to invest into researching the character. But definitely I will set aside time for this film, do my research, have deep conversations with the person himself and kickstart this project. This film is on top of my wishlist.
Most heroes who debuted in the 90s tried their shot at superstardom by often resorting to over-the-top masala films. But that doesn’t seem to be the case now.
True. Back then, making a film to suit all types of viewers was a challenge. But now, the audience are particular about what they want and the challenge for us is to cater to this specific requirement.
In fact, during Appa's peak, we had no access to international cinema. The DVDs and movie channels gave us limited content. Today though, international content is available at our fingertips, and our expectation of cinema has increased. I see this as a positive change. This expectation keeps young actors like me on our toes. Each one of us has to be part of unique projects.
Have you ever wanted to star in a remake of your father's film?
A few years ago, a couple of filmmakers wanted to do a reboot of Idhayam with me. But I was hesitant about it. It is a masterpiece. The audience connected to the core emotions of the film then. Certain crucial elements of Idhayam are time-bound and creators would be forced to alter them to match the present. This would in turn spoil the magic of the original. I didn't want to do disservice to my father's classic. However, hypothetically speaking, I would not mind doing something on the lines of appa's Iraniyan. It is one of my favourite films of his. It is even more special to me, because I was there while the film was being shot and saw his efforts for the role.