Actor Karthi, who has shared an astounding chemistry with Nagarjuna in the film "Thozha" ("Oopiri" in Telugu), hopes their "bromance" continues for years to come as they hit it off very well on the film's set.
In an interview, he spoke about the movie, his experience of working with Nagarjuna and more. Excerpts from the interview:
Q. Your bonding with Nagarjuna is fantastic?
I really enjoyed working with Nag sir. The comfort level between us was amazing. We are friends in the film. But we are now brothers in real life. We got along well from the very first day. We share a common background. We are both actors' sons. We are both qualified engineers. We were both 33 when we came back to become actors in India. We had so much to talk and share. I will make sure the bromance continues in real life.
Q. You seemed to have conquered Telugu cinema with "Oopiri". Have you dubbed your own lines?
Yes, I've dubbed my lines in Telugu. When I did my first Telugu film, someone else dubbed for me. I was very upset about that. I wanted to dub my own lines. But they didn't take my offer seriously. It was my first film in Telugu and second in Tamil. Then when I did a second Telugu film 'Awara', I offered to dub my own lines and told them they could scrap my voice if they didn't like it. They liked my Telugu and retained it. During 'Oopiri', my director Vamsi was very helpful with my dialogues. I would sometimes go for 25 - 30 takes until I got it right.
Q. 35 takes???
Yes, I didn't mind. The result has been overwhelming. I've been appreciated in Telugu.
Q. To what do you attribute the huge success of the film?
It's a marvellous story. When I saw the original French film "The Intouchables", I felt we needed to take the emotions to another level.
Q. How did you do that?
The emotions were extremely controlled. We had to Indianise "The Intouchables" while making sure mine and Nag sir's characters remained sensitive to the original. All the emotional angles, my character's estranged family, et al are there in the original. We only opened up the emotions.
Q. Are Tamil actors like you and Dhanush attempting to bring more realistic acting into cinema?
As an actor, it is my endeavour to be true to my character. I remember a conversation between Naseeruddin Shah and Shabana Azmi where he spoke about her trying to perform in every scene. I don't want to be caught performing. I idolise Mohanlal sir. I've grown up watching Kamal Haasan sir and Rajinikanth sir. Later on in life, I realised how underrated my dad (Sivakumar) was. His performances in some of K. Balachander's films were outstanding.
Q. Do you follow any of your idols?
As far as following anyone is concerned, I've failed whenever I've looked outwards for inspiration. I listen only to myself.
Q. How did you get into films. Apparently, your father, the great Tamil actor Sivakumar, was opposed to the idea as your elder brother Suriya was already an actor?
Yes, I did my engineering. But half - way through my course, I realised I wanted to be in the movies. I spent a lot of time watching films. I never had the guts to go out and tell my dad that I wanted to join films. He brought us up far away from the movie industry. We were not even allowed on movie sets.
Q. Why was that?
My father didn't think there was financial security in movies. He wanted me to have a Plan B ready. Unlike the belief those days, he didn't believe the uneducated become film actors. He believed a strong educational background would help me with my career in films.
Q. What was your brother Suriya's advice to you?
He told me, 'If you want to achieve something, then you should be deserving. You have to change as a person to become an actor and a star, improve yourself a lot and keep learning. ' He keeps pushing the boundaries and tries out new stuff irrespective of the time it consumes and the amount of work it demands. Now that is my inspiration.
Q. When are you turning director?
I came into movies to become a director. But sadly I am not a writer. And here in Tamil cinema, a director has to be writer.
Q. Any plans of doing Hindi cinema?
I haven't really thought about. But I love the cinema of Vishal Bhardwaj. If he calls, I will go. Otherwise I am happy where I am.