'In the climax, if you see, Manoj Bajpayee and I engage in a fist fight.'
'It had to be shot in a single take so either of us couldn't make any mistakes.'
Among the actors who are winning rave reviews for the second season of The Family Man 2 is Anandsami, who played Selvarasan, a Sri Lankan rebel who leads Raji (Samantha Akkineni) and the team of assassins.
To perfect the role, Anandsami, a native of Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu, spent a considerable amount of time understanding his character's background and requirements.
In a career spanning over 20 years, the actor has worked mostly in theatre and made brief appearances in Tamil films.
After reading the script for The Family Man, he had a clear picture of Selvarasan etched in his mind.
From the colour of his costume to his appearance, Anandsami worked on minute details to make his character look and sound authentic.
"Those who have seen it, mostly my friends, they have liked my performance. But it's nothing life-changing. People are not waiting with offers for me," the 47-year-old actor, who lives in Chennai with his wife, tells Divya Nair/Rediff.com.
How did you become a part of The Family Man?
I auditioned for the role of Selva in May 2019.
They gave me a sheet with dialogues.
I found it difficult to speak in Jaffna Tamil, but they liked my audition and I got the role.
I always wanted to be a part of a Web series, but when we were shooting the scenes, I had no idea how this series will turn out.
We were half way through the shoot when the first season went live in September 2019.
After the first season was out, the lockdown happened.
Our shoot got over in January 2020 and we had to wait.
It took almost a year-and-a-half for the second season to be released.
How did you prepare for the role?
For me, speaking the language was the biggest challenge.
I can speak Tamil fluently. But I had to learn to speak the Jaffna dialect.
First, I watched a lot of material, especially videos on YouTube to familiarise myself with the language.
I know there is a difference between Coimbatore Tamil and Madurai Tamil -- basically it's the dialect.
But Yazhpaanam Tamil (Jaffna Tamil) is an altogether different language.
I was very careful because I wanted to do justice to the character.
If somebody watched it, they shouldn't make fun or say that I didn't take the role seriously.
Also, it was being shot in sync sound, so if I missed something,they'd have to retake the whole scene.
I couldn't afford to make mistakes.
On the set, we had a language teacher who helped me perfect my dialogues and tone.
I can't say if I did 100 per cent, but I'd like to believe I got at least 30-40 percent of the dialect right.
The next thing for me was to get the character right.
I did some reading and research, did some background about how Selva should look.
I shared my feedback with the directors and the costume team.
I said I'd like Selva's character to have this rugged look.
I suggested he wear only checks, a certain style of pants, chappal and that he should always carry a thundu (towel).
Surprisingly, they welcomed my suggestions.
While preparing for the role, I grew my hair, put on weight and wore a tight shirt to make it look more authentic.
Do you understand Hindi?
Growing up, I used to watch a lot of Doordarshan because that was the only channel. That's my exposure to Hindi.
I know Tamil and I understand English although I don't speak (English) so well.
If I don't understand, I take help.
It's the same with Hindi. I’d be lying if I say I can speak and understand Hindi well.
How was it working with the team?
The directors and writers are very creative and open.
They know what they want, but they are also open to ideas and give you that freedom. That really helped us.
We had creative discussions, but there was never really any argument or disagreement on the sets.
How was it working with Samantha and Manoj Bajpayee?
It was my first time working with both of them.
Although Samantha and I shared more screen space, we spoke very little on the sets.
We would rehearse our segments, but we were mostly in our own zones of our characters.
After the scene, we would be jolly (have fun), but on the set, we were total professionals. And I respect that.
What was the most challenging scene for you?
I had only scene with Manoj Bajpayee and it was also the most tiring one.
In the climax, if you see, we engage in a fist fight.
It had to be shot in a single take so either of us couldn't make any mistakes.
It's a choreographed sequence where if we don't follow the rules, one of us could get hurt.
But we also had to be careful about the cameras to get it right.
It took several retakes to get the shot right, so definitely it was challenging.
How has the response been?
It's been good. I watched it with my family at home.
Those who have seen it, mostly my friends, they have liked my performance.
But it's nothing life-changing. People are not waiting with offers for me (laughs).
Besides, I am also someone who likes to take it slow.
Did you always want to be an actor?
I loved watching films like everyone else. But it won't be wrong to say that I am an accidental actor.
After Class 12, I moved to Chennai in 1998 to pursue a career in marketing. I realised I wasn't good at it.
Around that time, some of my friends who studied visual communication at Loyola College in Chennai asked me to act in one of their short plays.
I just did that role, but my friends felt I had some talent.
Sometime in 2000, they took me for an audition for the serial Kavyanjali. I think it was a remake of Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi.
I was not prepared.
I was just standing outside the room when a person said, 'Why are you standing out? Just come inside and audition.'
My friends pushed me inside and I just picked up from where the last actor left.
When they asked me for my portfolio, obviously I had none. So I ended up giving them my passport photo (laughs).
But I got the role. It was a supporting comic character.
The serial went to seven or ten episodes. That's how it all started.
Then I became a part of Perch, short for Performers in Chennai where I learned some method acting.
I did some films too.
Apart from The Family Man 2, I am also part of Caged which released on Disney Hotstar on June 6.
In 20 years, you've done very few films. Did you struggle a lot or were you conscious of the roles?
Actually, I didn't audition for a lot of roles (in film), so it would be unfair to say I have struggled.
I agree I haven't worked much in the industry. I am more of a professional theatre actor.
When it comes to films, even today, I take up what comes my way. I have also taken up projects in which I have just one scene.
What are you currently working on?
In the last one year, I have been working mostly with friends.
I visit the sets and do workshops with actors where I prepare them for the role before the scene.
This is a very new concept here that I am trying here.
Actors who are new, we help them with character development, script analysis. We call it ice-breaking workshop.
Last year, I worked with Director Ashwath and helped actors Ashok Selvan and Ritika Singh in Oh My Kadavule. I am working on a couple of other films that I cannot reveal right now.
Once the lockdown eases, and I take my second shot (of vaccination), I am looking forward to present one of my plays to a small audience.
Is there a dream role that you'd like to play?
I didn't think of it until you asked me now.
But a few months ago, I remember reading this news that Quentin Tarantino will be directing his tenth and final film.
I am a huge fan of his work.
I like the way he treats his characters, especially the way he presents violence. I like his writing.
I know I don't stand a chance, but I wondered what it would be like if I could get a role in his last film.