Locality boys

Director Rajesh and G. V. Prakash tell me about how they’ve tapped into the local with Kadavul Irukaan Kumaru

Considering how many comedies you’ve lately been part of, I guess a movie with Rajesh was always coming.

G. V. Prakash: (Laughs) Not really. I was surprised to learn that a director of his calibre was willing to work with me. He told me he really liked my performance in Trisha Illana Nayanthara.

Rajesh: I didn’t think he had a lot of scope to perform in Darling. But Trisha Illana… really brought out the actor in him. Playing a middle-class youngster, he had it all—the look, the beard, the attitude… His dancing was also pucca local.

There’s even a song called ‘Locality Boys’ in the teaser. Was it difficult, G. V., for you to bring out this local flavour, considering you had a rather privileged upbringing?

G.V.: I have Adhik (Ravichandran, the director of Trisha Illana…) to thank for that. He really brought it out of me, and removed whatever little fear of camera I had.

Rajesh: G. V. is a bit like that anyway. Did you know he used to play cricket in corporation grounds in T. Nagar? Avaru local dhaan.

G.V.: Most people know only my sophisticated side, but those who know me really well know this other side.

That line sounds straight out of a mass movie. I guess you’re on your way to becoming a star.

G.V.: (Laughs) I’m just trying to be an entertainer. I have no interest in competing with any other actor. I think I’m a unique artiste who can sing, dance, compose music, and act, and do all these things well. I have a market now, and I’m just trying to do justice to that.

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In previous Rajesh films, the funny sidekick, usually played by Santhanam, is often more impactful than the hero. Were you worried about that?

G.V.: I did speak with Rajesh about that. I told him that I’d like more prominence, and assured him that I’d do humour well. My most favourite film of his is Siva Manasula Sakthi. It gave Jiiva a lot of screen time and scope to perform. I wanted something like that.

It must help that Santhanam isn’t willing to play the sidekick any more.

Rajesh: I could have asked him to do Kadavul Irukaan…, but it wouldn’t have been right. I have to respect his decision. We may do a film together with him playing the hero. Here, we have a whole host of comedians, like Robo Shankar, Singampuli, Mottai Rajendran, RJ Balaji…

So, Santhanam’s role has been distributed among several smaller actors?

Rajesh: (Laughs) If you want to put it like that.

There’s a general belief that R. J. Balaji is a like-for-like replacement for Sanathanam…

Rajesh: No, he’s not. It’s not possible to find a replacement for him. He’s been incredible, and has worked with everybody from new actors to Rajinikanth.

Did it concern you that your last two films, All in All Azhagu Raja and Vasuvum Saravananum Onna Padichavanga, haven’t done too well?

Rajesh: I didn’t realise that Karthi’s image as a performer would come in the way of people enjoying a comedy like All in All… But Vasuvum… made 12 crores. To put it in perspective, Boss Engira Bhaskaran collected 14 crores.

But word of mouth wasn’t great on Vasuvum … Were you tempted to reconsider your usual formula?

Rajesh: I was. Kadavul Irukaan… isn’t just a rom-com. I’ve written a big episode that happens on the road. It’s different. Also, G. V. is a total natural as a local guy. It really adds a lot.

G.V.: Thank you. I try to achieve a balance between who I am and what the director needs. In Trisha Illana… I was partly me, and partly Adhik’s character. In this film, it’s a bit of me, and a bit of Rajesh’s hero.

You speak a lengthy dialogue in the teaser, which is similar to a line in the teaser of Selvaraghavan’s Nenjam Marappathillai.

Rajesh: That was accidental. Our teaser was ready by the time that came out.

G.V.: In any case, that line expresses jadedness. Mine’s, well, local. Also, this idea of an actor speaking a lengthy dialogue has been used by many actors, including Dhanush in Velaiyilla Pattathari.

The teaser shows RJ Balaji mocking your famous ‘virgin pasanga’ line and undercutting your importance as a star. Are these conscious decisions, so you are not taken too seriously?

G.V.: If I don’t take myself seriously, nobody else will. But it’s important not to let things get to my head.

What’s most exciting about Kadavul Irukaan…?

G.V.: Rajesh is a big brand and will bring a lot of people to the theatres. I will too. If this film works, I’ll be catapulted to a different level.

But you do realise that you won’t be winning over the A-centres with such films?

G.V.: That’s why I’m also doing a Rajiv Menon film. No film can satisfy people of all classes. If you try to do that, you’ll end up satisfying no one.

This interview was written for The Hindu.  All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to this page if you’d like to share it.

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