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The Rediff Interview
'Commercial success is important'
Shobha Warrier | September 12, 2007
It was a special Onam for the one time National award winner Suresh Gopi this year. Though only one of his films, Kichamani MBA got released for Onam (Black Cat got delayed), his July release, Naadia Kollapetta Raathri is still running strong in the theatres.
Other than the crass commercial films, he is also going to act in a couple of offbeat films; one of which is Rajeev Nath's (National award winner for Best Director, for the Malayalam film Janani) take on the world classic Casablanca.
Rajeev Nath plans to recreate the magic with the Tamil Tigers as the backdrop. As things stand, it will be Mandira Bedi [Images] who will enact the role immortalised by Ingrid Bergman. Another is based on Shakespeare's Macbeth and the third, the life of Raja Ravi Varma [Images].
An excited Suresh Gopi spoke to rediff.com at his residence in Thiruvananthapuram a day after Thiruvonam.
A special Onam for you this year.
Yes, a special Onam. It is very, very special because my film Naadia Kollapetta Raathri released in July is still running in the theatres. That makes two of my films running simultaneously. So, it will be a long run for my films from before Onam till Ramzan!
The credit goes to all those associated with the film Naadia. It is definitely a matter of celebration for me, the hero of the film. This Onam is very precious for me.
Is it good to have two films of one actor at the same time in the theatres? Won't the collections be affected?
You can't say. If both the films are good, it's not a problem. This year, quite a few scheduled releases like Nasrani, Kolkatta News, etc backed out, so, the slot is there, and I hope my films will fill those vacant slots. But it is important that all my films get the best run in the theatres.
At this stage in your career, how important is commercial success for you?
It is not just now, commercial success is important at all times. Success keeps you going as a person and as an actor.
When you quit films for a brief period, you were at the peak, and it was written then, that there were three super stars in Malayalam -- Mohanlal, Mammootty and yourself. But when you came back, they had gone several steps ahead of you, and you were far behind.
I am only bothered about Suresh Gopi the actor. I don't look at where they are and how ahead they are. I pray that all good films run.
Don't you feel you are repeating yourself after your second coming?
That is because I listen to the demand of the public. Bharat Chandran made a lot of money. In the next film too, I was a cop. It made a crore and a half for the producer. I acted in Lanka, for a change and it was a disaster. I was not accepted. After that, I was a politician in Rashtram, and then as a lawyer chasing justice in Chinthamani Kola Case, and both did good business.
Be it a cop, or an IAS officer or even a goonda, the audience wants to see me as a person who discusses social issues, asks questions that they have and squeeze out answers from those concerned.
You used to do a lot of social service when you took the break. So, are these films an extension of your social work?
Earlier I was doing social service alone, but today I am doing it through my films with the help of my producers! That is the difference.
So, as a commercial star, you are satisfied. As a performer, are you satisfied?
I can't say I am fully satisfied. I feel I was only working for the community and not for myself.
As a performer, where do you look for satisfaction?
At one point in my life, I had to bank on Kaliyattam (Jayaraj's interpretation of Othello) and it won me the national award. This year, I am doing Macbeth and also the story of Raja Ravi Varma. These films are going to satisfy my soul.
Macbeth is being directed by a new director Rajesh. In the climax, we have deviated from Shakespeare because we have to make it contemporary. So, I thought there should be a message in the end. I have done the screenplay of the last 25 minutes of the film.
So, you interfere in the script?
I was not interfering. I have not forced the director to change the end. I told them this is the need of the hour. As I am a socially conscious person and I am looked at as that kind of an actor, I have to satisfy that section of the audience. They were convinced and decided to have that climax.
And the film on Raja Ravi Varma?
That is Lenin Rajendran's creation (Lenin Rajendran is a state award winning director). He had done the script for a play for the Kerala [Images] Peoples' Arts Club (KPAC). It is about the period in Raja Ravi Varma's life when he was in Bombay and painted all those images of goddesses.
Shaji N Karun is making the same story in Hindi...
I heard Shaji got inspired from the play. My film is in Malayalam. For me, acting as Raja Ravi Varma, a legend, is not just exciting but very challenging. I also look at it as a major responsibility to interpret his life.
It is said to be the toughest period in Raja Ravi Varma's life and also the most creative.
Yes. I will take inspiration from my own life, from what I underwent during one of the most difficult periods in my life.
But the most exciting project is going to be the re-creation of Casablanca by Rajeev Nath�
It will happen early next year. We are taking Casablanca as inspiration. The issue we deal with will be contemporary and relevant.
These films are like jam for me while the other films are like butter that is needed for my career and stardom.
Is stardom very important for you?
Of, course. You have to have stardom to push such products to the audience. Just look at the academic films that Mohanlal and Mammootty have done; they could do it because of stardom. And, they did those films when they were in their prime.
Are films like Casablanca and Raja Ravi Varma for you, and the other commercial ventures for your audience?
These films are to satisfy my soul, the soul of an actor.
Photographs: Shobha Warrier