Kollywood actor - director Sasikumar has had a busy year. His 4th release for 2016 "Balle Vellaiya Theva" (BVT), directed by first timer Solai Prakash, is opening in theatres on December 23.
BVT is a comedy film far removed from the actor's usual intense action films, but the rural backdrop stays. In this chat with The News Minute, Sasikumar opens up about his new film, his childhood and what we can expect from him in future.
While acting in a comedy film, is your mood also light and relaxed in general?
Nothing like that. In the same way, when I do a serious film, it doesn't mean that I'm all serious and brooding. There is always that tension to wrap a film on time but it is necessary to be in a relaxed mood before going to the sets each day to get the work done. Based on the scene and the shot's mood, I'll switch my mindset. My previous film "Kidaari" had a mix of both serious and lighthearted scenes and I was in the required zone, accordingly.
In BVT, you've acted with senior actors, Kovai Sarala and Rohini. It must have been an enriching experience?
Sarala Ma'am was apt for the role and we approached her. She is always energetic and full of laughter on the sets. She used to interact a lot, give scene inputs and rehearse every scene before going for the take to make sure that the timing factor isn't missed in her comedy. Rohini Ma'am plays my mom in the film and she has played the role of a serious, majestic postmaster. She receives all the inputs from the director and delivers perfectly. She is a very experienced performer. Both of them were so comfortable to work with as they don't have any ego issues and are completely cooperative.
How does debut director Solai Prakash compare with the long lineup of directors that you've introduced so far?
Each of these directors are mine and I want all of them to prosper. Solai Prakash is an energetic man, a fast worker and we wrapped the shoots in 50 days, exactly as planned. The entire team was driven and totally focused on work.
Your films are synonymous with new heroines. Is there any hesitation to work with established heroines who may actually be much easier to work with?
Even new heroines do well and they are all talented. The advantages with new heroines is that they are flexible with their dates and they'll be seen by the audience as the character that they are portraying because they don't have any image baggage. Established heroines may make us wait with their commitments and date issues - that's the main thing. They can perform well, no doubt.
2016 is the most prolific year of your career with 4 releases. Happy with the report card?
I am happy to have run this far this year, with non-stop work. Due to the delay in "Thaara Thappattai", other directors were waiting for me and I felt responsible. I didn't expect to have this many releases this year. That said, BVT was deliberately planned as a Christmas release as it is a comedy entertainer for the families, this holiday season.
But there is a risk of you being over-exposed with this many releases in a year...
Nowadays, a film runs for just 2 weeks and people forget easily (laughs). And, the setup is different in each film. Earlier, the number of releases was much more for our heroes and they still used to entertain people differently in each film.
Could you rewind a bit and talk about how you got your initial interest in cinema?
It began when I was in my 7th standard studying in St.Peters school, Kodaikanal. I was fascinated by the film director's work but used to wonder why his name comes last in the credits. I did a lot of plays, dramas in school and everyone knew my interest in cinema. James Vasanthan sir was my music teacher back then. Balachander sir, Mahendran sir, Bharathirajaa sir and Balu Mahendra sir were among the directors who floored me with their films. The producer of "Sethu" was my relative and I got the chance to assist Bala sir. I then worked on "Mounam Pesiyathey" with Ameer sir. Then "Subramaniapuram" happened.
Little is known about your personal life...
My family has always been my biggest support system from the beginning. They never discouraged me from getting into cinema and always had my best interests in their mind. They never talk about cinema when I'm at home and it's a welcome relief for me. I'm just a normal person at home and I don't worry about family while working. My cousin Ashok, who is a co-producer in my production house, producer Vaduganathan sir, cameraman Kathir, Samuthirakani, all my production managers and friends have also been big, supportive influences in my success.
When will you get back to direction, as widely expected by Tamil audiences?
Towards the end of 2017, I may get back to direction after completing 2 more films as a hero.