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Aadhi: Aravaan is out of the world

Last updated on: March 1, 2012 12:19 IST

Aadhi: Aravaan is out of the world

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Shobha Warrier in Chennai

Though actor Aadhi began his career in Telugu films in 2006, it was in the Tamil film Mirugam that he was noticed. But what catapulted him to a higher plane was his role as a police officer in the Shankar production, Eeram.

After two forgettable films, he is back as Varupuli in Vasanthabalan's Aravaan, a film based on one of the short stories from this year's Sahitya Academy winner Kaaval Koottam by Su. Ventakesan.

In this interview Aadhi explains why he considers Aravaan to be a once-in-a-lifetime role for him.

What was the brief given to you by Vasanthabalan for Aravaan?

He narrated the entire script to me. The first thing that came to my mind was, 'it is out of the world'.

It was a very complicated script with the events taking place 300 years ago. I was a bit doubtful whether it was possible to recreate the magic of the script.

Did you like your character, Varupuli?

I loved my character, Varupuli. He is not one dimensional; he depicts all shades.

I have done only five films in my career. So, for an actor with just five films in his career, this is a role one cannot even dream of. I have to thank Vasanthabalan for offering me such a role.


Image: A scene from Aravaan


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'Its like a dream role for me'

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What was the reference point you had?

It was not a character about which you can make a reference. So, I asked the director how I should go about it. He was very clear about who Varupuli was, what he thought, how he behaved, walked, ran and talked.

I had to only do what he told me. I had to only transfer what was in his head to mine.

Did he ask you to prepare mentally before you started shooting?

He gave me the dialogues early. Saying the dialogue made me understand at least 25 per cent of who Varupuli was. That is how I developed a picture of this character, and I went to the location with that picture in mind.

Then, I took Vasanthabalan's inputs. It was like both our contributions were added to make Varupuli a real character. I would call it chemistry between me, my director, and my character.


Image: A scene from Aravaan


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'Vasanthabalan insisted me to have a six packs'

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As you had no reference point, how easy or difficult was it to become Varupuli?

It wasn't actually difficult as I had prepared a lot for Aravaan. Once I prepared myself physically, I started feeling like Varupuli. Then, I started visualising the period. That was possible after reading the short story and the script several times.

The director and I met quite a few times before the shoot and we discussed how we wanted Varupuli to be and how we were going to shoot the film, etc.

I believed in the director and followed his instructions faithfully. So, he was happy with what I did and as long as my director had a happy face, I was also happy.

Did you build up your body under Vasanthabalan's instructions?

Yes. He wanted me to have a six pack and I worked out for that. Even if he had not told me, I would have worked on my body. In Mirugam also I was bare-bodied but had a bulky body. But for Aravaan, I preferred a lean look.

I had two looks in the film; one with a beard and another without. The one with the beard looked very similar to Mirugam but with a leaner frame.


Image: A scene from Aravaan


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'Every day of Aravaan was like a torture'

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As an actor, what was the most challenging aspect of becoming Varupuli?

Every day of Aravaan was like being in a war field.

Physically and mentally?

Yes, both physically and mentally. Mentally, every actor goes through the emotions of the character but here, it was physically also exhausting.

When we started shooting in a remote village near Madurai, it was the hottest period. Just imagine being in a dry land where there is not a single tree and surrounded by rocky mountains! The heat got reflected from the mountains.

We actors were bare-bodied and bare-foot. Our feet burnt. It was not an easy job running on the hot sand and rocks without slippers.

Please don't think I am complaining; I thoroughly enjoyed what I did.

So you must have been exhausted at the end of the day.

All of us were totally drained out. There were scenes like I was tied to a tree for two days with the roots of the tree. I could feel my bone touching the roots and I need not say how much it pained.

At night, I couldn't lie down properly and sleep. My entire body ached. Every day was torture. I used to have painkillers every day.

When you watch the film, you don't see what we went through but the level of difficulty was the maximum. I don't think I will ever be able to do this again. I loved being Varupuli and I loved going through all those difficulties.


Image: A scene from Aravaan


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'We went through a lot of adventure to shoot the film'

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From this hot terrain, you then went to Courtallam and the forests of Kerala...

When we started shooting at Courtallam, I felt we were on holiday. I used to stand under the waterfalls every day after the shoot. I was not bothered when people looked at me and came for my autograph. All I wanted was to stay under the water for as long as I could. After that, it was heavenly to fall asleep in the room.

I am a nature person, so it was a pleasurable experience for me to be in the forest. On the first day, the producer noticed something moving under his feet as we stood talking. He realised that it was a huge snake! He disappeared and did not come back till the shoot was about to be over!  

How did you feel once the shooting was over?

I felt really bad. It was not a normal film. We went through a lot of adventure to shoot the film.

The whole team was together for so many days and it is painful when it ends.

Aravaan is a very special film for me. I am really happy and thankful to God that such a special film came to me so early in my career.

Your father Raviraja Pinisetty is a well known film maker in Telugu but you act in Tamil films. Any particular reason?

I was born and brought up in Chennai. I did my schooling and college here. Till recently, Telugu films were also shot in Chennai. My grandfather lived here. My father made Telugu films because the entire Telugu film industry worked from Chennai. 

I am more of a Chennaite than a Telugu guy.


Image: A scene from Aravaan


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'I feel acting is in my blood'

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You are an engineer by profession. Why did you decide to be an actor?

My grandfather was a theatre actor and a writer. So, I feel acting is in my blood too.

In school, my friends used to call me 'hero' but I never took it seriously. After engineering, films happened without me taking a conscious decision.

Your real name is Sai Pradeep. Why did you choose a name like Aadhi?

Adhi means 'the beginning'. The director of my first film, Saamy Sir, wanted me to get a screen name. He wanted me to have a name that has only two letters. My father consulted somebody and came with the name Aadhi. I also liked the name. Not many people have the luxury of having a new name at 25!

Was it difficult initially to be Aadhi?

You said it! Saamy Sir made it a point to call me Aadhi while shooting Mirugam and I would not respond because I wasn't used to anyone calling me by that name! Today, even my old friends have started calling me Aadhi. I am now comfortable with Aadhi.


Image: A scene from Aravaan

Tags: Aadhi , Mirugam

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