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Karthik Kumar, no longer the US-returned Mappilai

Last updated on: November 30, 2009 15:46 IST

Karthik Kumar, no longer the US-returned Mappilai

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Shobha Warrier in Chennai

Karthik Kumar is slowly coming out of the "US returned Mappilai" tag which started when Mani Ratnam cast him as one in Alai Payuthey.

Recently, he acted as a wily politician in Ninaithale Inikkum, the Tamil remake of Classmates. This week will see him as a stage artist in Ethuvum Nadakkum (Anything can happen), a thriller.

One of the biggest achievements of Karthik as an artist is his theatre production house Eevam which has thousands of members from all over the country.

In this interview, Karthik talks about his new film, Ethuvum Nadakkum.

Is Ethuvum Nadakkum an experimental film?

It is an experimental film in the Tamil cinema scene. That is why many distributors are asking the directors (Mageswaran and Rosario) to add an item song, some humour, etc. But the directors refused and finally decided to distribute the film on their own. They are letting the audience decide what they think of the film.

 


Image: A scene from Ethuvum Nadakkum

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'Ethuvum Nadakkum is a 90-minute thriller with no song situations or comedy scenes'

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Is it the script that attracted you?

When I was doing Ninaithale Inikkum, they came to me with a bound script which read like a 90-minute dramatic film. They had seen my films Yaaradi Nee Mohini and Kanda Nall Muthal. Though I had only played the sweet US returned mappilai kind of roles till then, they came to me with a character that has grey shades. They also told me that they are putting all their money into the project and asked me if I had 20 days to give them.

What was different about the script?

It is a 90-minute thriller with no song situations or comedy scenes.


Image: A scene from Ethuvum Nadakkum

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'Nobody has ever told me that I look like a Japanese'

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Did you ask them why they chose you?

I did ask them and they gave such a bizarre explanation. They said I look like the hero of Roshomon (by Akira Kurosowa) which was weird since the hero is a Japanese. Nobody has ever told me that I look like a Japanese. I have no idea what they meant. They also read an interview of mine where I said I was here to do different roles.

So, it is finally mukti for you from the US returned mappilai image?

Even Ninaithale Inikkum was mukti for me from that image! Thank God I got that role and am now out of the rut I was in!


Image: A scene from Ethuvum Nadakkum

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'I get paid if the film makes money'

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Who are you in this film?

I play a very frustrated struggling stage actor in the film. He never gets a chance to act or show his talent in real life. He is stressed out because his wife constantly says he is a loser and an idiot. One day, reality becomes acting for him, and he starts acting in real life.

On the receiving end is an innocent girl [Aparna Nair] who is stuck in the house with him. He thinks she is his wife but she is not. The result is a lot of skeletons which come tumbling out of the closet. He toes the thin line between reality and fantasy.

As an actor, how challenging was it? How much did you assimilate the character?

More than being challenged, those twenty days were the most exciting days of my career as an actor. We shot non-stop and finished the entire film in 20 days. Both of us were there in every shot. You don't get such opportunities in Tamil films.

The contract is such that I get paid if the film makes money.

Image: A scene from Ethuvum Nadakkum

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'Nobody in the Tamil industry knows I am a stage actor'

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Is creative satisfaction much more important to you than money?

Absolutely. At the end of the day, that's all you remember from your work.

You said the story is about a stage actor. Do you think the directors chose you because you are a stage actor and you have the stage production house Eevam?

I don't think they know I am a stage actor. Nobody in the Tamil industry knows of Eevam. All the frustration they go through as filmmakers is visible in the film. I hope they get their money back.


Image: A scene from Ethuvum Nadakkum

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'The days of Balachander and Bharatiraja are coming back'

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What's your next project?

I have just finished Kola Kolayay Munthirikka written by Crazy Mohan and directed by Madhumita. It was the usual Crazy Mohan fun film. It was great fun doing the film. I have grown up watching their films.

Do you feel Tamil film industry is ready for such experiments?

Absolutely. Thanks to Ameer, Sasikumar and Vijay. Someone like Samuthirakani goes and makes a film with a deaf and mute girl. That's the courage you need more of. The days of Balachander and Bharatiraja are coming back.


Image: A scene from Ethuvum Nadakkum

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