'Entry into filmdom was easy for me'
The red sand desert was boiling at a sweltering 40 degrees centigrade. In spite of the heat Surya switched off the air conditioner in his van, so that its sound would not interfere with our recorder.
The location is Therikurdieruppu in Thiruchendur taluka of Tutucorin district, Tamil Nadu where the actor is shooting Hari's latest Tamil film Singam.
A Ganesh Nadar finds out more.
Tell us more about this movie.
This is a movie being produced by a far off relative of mine who earlier produced Paruthiveeran and Jillunnu Oru Kadhal.
This movie is about simple village folk. I play a village cop who is happy in his village. Circumstances pull him to the city. He tries his best to return to the village but a challenge presents itself and he decides to stay and face it.
Who is the heroine?
Anoushka. She has earlier done Vettaikaran.
Image: A poster of Singam
'I don't think we are ready for multi-starrers in Tamil'
There are so many multi-starrers in Hindi cinema. Why are there none in Tamil movies?
You have to look at two sides -- one is the entertainment value and the other is the marketable value. They [Hindi filmmakers] are making movies with marketable value in mind while here, if this movie doesn't run, they will say, 'Surya's movie did not run or Hari Sir's movie did not run'. They will blame only the two of us.
We shoulder a massive responsibility. We cannot point fingers at anyone for a debacle. Therefore we are more careful when we are choosing or making the movie.
I personally do not have any problem working with another star and have done it when the script demanded it.
You might not have a problem but what about the producers?
If you see the problems that we face just co-ordinating between one star, one director and one producer, then you will see that it's like walking a tight rope.
Add to that when one works with top technicians in producing the movie, the budget is already high. If you add multi-stars then the budget will shoot out of proportion and the risk factor will be very high. Higher budget means the risk exposure is that much higher and no one will be happy with that. Talking about two stars is difficult and I don't think we are ready for multi-starrers in Tamil in the near future.
What about fans? Are they ready for multi-starrers?
I don't think so!
You know that in the South and particularly in Tamil Nadu, fans are of a different kind. Here they take hero worship to great heights. We have to go out of our way to satisfy them. Different things satisfy different fans.
We always keep that in mind. Imagine if every star in a multi-starrer wanted certain things to keep his fans happy. The script would go for a toss if the directors had to accommodate all of them.
Some stars will make a compromise with the script, some may not. This will complicate things. I don't think any director or producer will risk that. All the hanky panky involved is too much. We will stick to single stars for now.
'I try to play the characters and not myself'
We have seen you in a lot of action roles, doing comedy with equal elan. But let's take two roles your father Sivakumar played -- Annakaili -- where he is in love with one girl and marries another to satisfy his family responsibilities; and Sindhu Bhairavi where he has a child out of marriage. How would you handle such roles?
Those were heroine-oriented films. But it depends on how the director handles the scheme. When you have K Balachander directing you are assured of that.
It depends on the screen play and how the narration is done too. I would do such a movie if the script and the director were suitable. I don't have anything against such roles.
I am sure you have nothing against such roles. What we want to know is how you would handle a role which is not completely your idea of a hero who would do no wrong. There are grey shades to the character.
I would play such a role once. I will not repeat it in a second movie. I like to play different characters.
Was it easy to enter filmdom because your father was a star?
Obviously! That's a fact for all to see. It was easy for me because of my filmi background. It is very difficult to get into movies. And more difficult if you want to play lead roles. For me entry was easy.
But that is the only advantage I have. It took me five years to establish myself. And I had to work extremely hard for it. I like to be known for my roles. I try to play the characters and not myself.
Image: A poster of Singam
'My first priority in my life is my child and then cinema'
You have been a son to your parents, a star to your fans, a husband to your wife and your latest role, a father. What new responsibilities have that brought with it?
I want to be a perfect father. I can make excuses with my parents, I can tell my wife that I don't want to do something. But not with my kid. I want to be everything she wants me to be. I get upset when she learns a bad word or hums a bad song. I want her to learn the good things in life.
I want her to enjoy freedom, see and have a good life. I know that there is good and bad in this world. I want my daughter to see only the good. I don't want to be seen as over protective but I want all that's good for her.
I want her to enjoy her life. I want to be beside her and support her in everything she wants to do. I will not leave her upbringing to my wife or my parents. I want to be an active father. I think fathers have an equal role in bringing up children. My first priority in my life is my child and then cinema.
Did you get the same priority from your parents?
Yes! My father was a busy actor but he never pushed us away. He didn't have much time at home but whenever he was at home, he would spent as much time with us as possible.
Image: Hari and Surya on the sets of Singam