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Pickpocketing to success this Pongal!

Last updated on: January 11, 2011 13:52 IST

Pickpocketing to success this Pongal!

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Shobha Warrier in Chennai

After delivering one of the biggest hits of 2010 with Paiyya, Karthi returns to the marquee this Pongal, with Tamil film Siruthai. He will sport a double role for the first time here.

Siruthai is the remake of Ravi Teja's huge hit in Telugu, Vikramarkudu.

In this interview, Karthi talks to Shobha Warrier about the film, releasing on January 14, and the fun behind the shoot.

How exciting is it for you to have a festival release?

In Tamil Nadu, watching a film on a festival is a part of our culture. People prefer going to a theatre rather than bursting crackers at home. There is a lot of excitement about going to the theatres during the festivals, even today.

When I was young, I used to feel excited going to the theatre, even watching the previews. For me, festivals were mainly about watching movies.

How has the transformation been from going to the theatres to watch others' films and now having your own films during festivals?

When my first film Paruthiveeran released, I had no time to get excited. It was a worrying time for me. I was anxious to know how it would be accepted. Later also, I found that I could not look at my films as a part of the festival hungama. I get more tensed than excited. But now after acting in four-five films, when I look back, I feel it was exciting to have a festival release.

I still cannot digest the fact that people clap when I enter a scene. I have seen this happen to other actors when I was young. I cannot believe that it was happening to me.

Yes, finally I am accustomed to the idea of my film running in a theatre during Pongal or Diwali.


Image: A scene from Siruthai

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'I was not sure whether I could do a double role'

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Are you nervous or excited this Pongal?

I only feel excitement. I have never felt so excited before. That is because my Pongal release Siruthai is a 100 percent festival film, a commercial entertainer where families can go out, watch, enjoy and have a blast.

Was it a conscious decision on your part to remake the Telugu Vikramarkudu and release it this Pongal?

Not exactly. I saw the film three years ago and wanted to remake it. It was so enjoyable that I wanted to do the roles. It was not just funny but had strong emotions too. Everybody said the role would suit me. At that time, I had done only Paruthiveeran so I was not sure whether I could do a double role. But I felt Ravi Teja had a blast doing the roles of a pickpocket and a strict police officer. I had to wait to get some experience as an actor to do the film. But we acquired the rights for the film then itself.

How was it doing a double role?

It was a huge challenge for me. Ravi Teja had done those roles with so much experience and maturity behind him. It was not easy for me to portray the role of the mature police officer with just the experience of four films behind me.


Image: A scene from Siruthai

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'I can flick ladies hand bags easily'

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How did you prepare yourself to be a pickpocket?

I met a few pickpockets to learn a trick or two. They appeared to be very mature but naughty guys. They were nice, friendly jovial people. Only when they are short of money, they indulge in pickpocketing.

Were they willing to share their secrets with you?

Of course, they told me their whole life history! I sat with them and listened to their stories. It seems they pickpocket because they are passionate about it. It is not about money but about doing a daredevilry thing.

Did you learn to pickpocket?

I think I can flick ladies hand bags easily! (laughs) That is the easiest to pickpocket.

Did they pickpocket you when you were talking to them?

I was very careful about my cell phone.

How did you design your look as a pickpocket?

I have to also say that I have some of the flashy clothes to wear as the pickpocket which we picked up from the streets. He was a flamboyant thief and his dressing and behaviour was like that too. On the other hand, the police officer is serious and de-glamorous.


Image: A scene from Siruthai

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'It was a big high wearing the police uniform'

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Did you have any police officer in mind while doing the role?

I spoke to many senior IPS officers in the city and tried to understand their body language. I was so enamoured of Vikram Rathore, the original character that he has become a hero for me. He is Ratnavel Pandyan in Siruthai.

To differentiate between the two roles, we have made the thief a bit unclean and unshaven but funny. On the other hand, the cop is clean shaven. He looks at things straight, well read, and an upright dignified man.

I have wonderful dialogues to say in the film as the police officer. While dubbing, I took spacial care. I dubbed in a deep voice and did the dubbing in the morning for two hours so that my voice had the effective depth and maturity.

Which was the most enjoyable to portray, the cop or the thief?

Portraying Rocket Raja, the thief was sheer fun. But for every actor, playing a cop always gives a high. This cop is so upright that the intensity had to be there in my performance. For me, it was a big high wearing the uniform itself. Even before portraying the role, Vikram Rathore was a hero for me. After acting as Ratnavel Pandyan, he has also become a hero for me.

Which are the cop roles you really appreciate?

Suriya in Singam and Sami. Vijay Sir's police roles. Kamal Sir in Kuruthipunal. There are so many more films.


Image: A scene from Siruthai

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'We have reworked on the story to give a fresh feel to the audience'

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Why did you choose Siva, a cinematographer from Telugu, to direct the film?

I waited for a good director who understood the film, what I wanted and also someone who was ready to make a bigger and better film. Siva is a filmmaker who made the kind of films I enjoyed. When I watched his Telugu films, I knew he would bring out the emotions in Vikramarkudu well. He knew how to convey emotions. He is such a lovely person that I thoroughly enjoyed working with him.

What we have done is, we have taken the story from the original and then reworked it for the Tamil audience. It's a fresh script and fresh incidents.

You are acting with Tamannah for the second time. Was it more comfortable this time?

Yes. We worked together for 80-90 days for Paiyya. So we know each other very well. As our love scenes are comedy-laced, our camaraderie worked really well.

What was the kind of understanding you had with Santhanam doing the comedy sequences as the timing had to be perfect between two actors when doing comedy?

From day one, people started talking about comic timing and chemistry. As both of us belong to the same age group, we vibed well.


Image: A scene from Siruthai

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Siruthai is likeDabangg

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On the whole, was it fun shooting Siruthai?

Absolutely. I thoroughly enjoyed shooting the film. It was an easy film in the sense that its a high budget film. We wanted to make it bigger and larger than the original. It will create a benchmark as far as commercial films are concerned.

Is it like Dabangg?

Yes, I would say it's like Dabbang but it has more emotional scenes than Dabbang which was full of fun. I would say Siruthai is a masala film with all the masalas in the right proportion.

Which masala do you enjoy the most?

I like doing comedy. There are a lot of high action sequences also in the film which were executed so well and stylishly by the stunt choreographer, Ganesh. And cinematographer Velraj has captured it amazingly and realistically.

Here, I must tell you about the three-year old girl has acted with me in some very tough action sequences. It is her first film but the way she said some of the emotional dialogues is amazing. She never forgets the dialogues once she hears them. But for her scenes, we had to be very patient and shot the scenes only when she was in the right mood. So I didn't get to do retakes; I had to be ready when she was ready. She got along so well with me that I felt easy carrying her and doing our action scenes together.

What magic did you do with the baby?

It is my experience with my niece Diya (Suriya's daughter) that helped me work wonders with her. She really got attached to me during the shoot.


Image: A scene from Siruthai

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