An Actor and A Star KARTHI
He’s the current box office Baadshah of Kollywood and the reigning Raja of sky rocketing collections. With his fifth film Siruthai, breaking all records, Karthi – the young actor with the captivating smile and charming demeanor, has every reason to be elated. After all, how many actors can boast of a track record such as his?
His debut film Paruthiveeran was a blockbuster hit that also established him as an actor of merit in 2007. Three years on, his Ayirathil Oruvan, Paiyaa and Naan Mahaan Alle released consecutively, with hugely successful runs at the box office. As if that were not enough, with Yuganiki Okkadu and Awara, the dubbed versions of Ayirathil Oruvan and Paiyaa, he has established a footing in the Telugu industry too. With so much achieved at breathtaking speed, we expected the actor to be on a signing spree. Instead, he’s relaxing at his T Nagar home, taking his time before zeroing in on his next project. For an actor to play a mass hero, essay a cop role and a double hero subject in just his fifth film and succeed in the bargain, is no mean achievement. We catch up with the actor, to get more gyaan about what went into taking such a huge leap in his career, and the path ahead. In the process, we get really up, close and personal with him and get a huge dose of Karthi unplugged…
THE LEOPARD’S LEAP
His face lights up at the mention of Studio Green’s Siruthai, produced by KE Gnanavel Raja. “It’s my dream project. I heard the script way back when I was doing Paruthiveeran, but I felt I didn’t have enough experience. But in 2010, I decided to do this Vikramarkudu remake – playing a cop, a dual role and a mass hero, together! It was a huge challenge and a big step ahead so early in my career. But I felt I was ready and I am glad the results show that people have liked it so much,” he says.
We press him for statistics which he reluctantly shares, “So far, Siruthai has been the highest grosser in my career. Paiyaa was my biggest hit and Siruthai has collected around 30% more than Paiyaa in all territories. So far, its collections have surpassed competitive films in all areas amongst Pongal releases this year. The film has started as a topper and now we have to wait and see if it collects more in the days to come.”
Siruthai, directed by Sauryam Siva, has Tamannaah as heroine and Karthi playing a pickpocket called Rocket Raja and a DSP called Ratnavel Pandian. Both roles have become a hit with the audiences. Grins Karthi, “People tell me that kids are doing the movements of ‘Jin that ha jin tha tha’, made famous by Rocket Raja’s song. Fans recite the punch dialogues and I have received messages saying it’s a milestone film. They loved the portrayal of the dignified cop Pandian as well. I couldn’t ask for more!”
Another factor that has him grinning is the slapstick comedy with Santhanam. He cherishes Superstar Rajnikanth’s comments after seeing the film. Recalls Karthi, “He was surprised how I could pull off the comedy so well, especially with a talented comedian like Santhanam by my side!” But comedy is not new to him, he stresses. “Right from Paruthiveeran onwards, there was always dry humor and situational comedy in all my films. But people seem to like me doing slapstick comedy!” he laughs.
Siruthai is a film with an 80’s feel to it but Karthi was certain it would work even today. So what gave him the confidence to go ahead with a mass entertainer after trying his hand at realistic cinema, fantasy adventure and romance, earlier? “I was conscious that it’s not easy to play a mass hero. But the film has a strong emotional content which I felt would make it different from just any other entertainer of its genre. A mass hero is someone who can do anything on screen and get away with it, while the audience enjoys it, no questions asked! That’s what we promised and delivered, calling it an ‘emotional entertainer’. Kudos to director Siva for innovating with the script and bringing in new aspects! In fact, the film gained new family audiences for me, when people who hadn’t seen any of my previous films, walked in to see Siruthai!” On playing a cop, he says “Pandian is a dignified cop. Many people my age are DSPs and ACPs, so I felt I was the right age to play the role convincingly.”
SLOW AND STEADY!
With so much going for him, the pressure to make the right choice for his next film is huge. But with his go slow policy, he is being termed a choosy actor already. However, Karthi is clear, “After Paruthiveeran I got ten offers but I decided that I would complete Ayirathil Oruvan and then follow up with one film after another. I waited patiently each time for Paiyaa and Naan Mahaan Alle to come my way. And so it is for my future films too!” It sure looks like variety is the spice of this actor’s life. He confirms this statement saying, “Post Siruthai, I will jump out of the mass genre and essay something totally different. I have been waiting for the past two months, listening to scripts. I won’t do a film until I find the role motivating and convincing enough to see myself in it.” The buzz has it that he may work with new directors. But Karthi clears the air, “I don’t think I am ready just yet to work with new directors. With the kind of budgets invested and stress on action and songs, I need someone who is at least one film old.”