Suriya has grounded himself firmly in the Tamil film industry, balancing flicks that have mass appeal with ones that are experimental in nature. With this approach, he has carved a space for himself in the industry over the past 15 years. Among the most memorable roles that he has played is that of Duraisingam, a ferocious cop who takes on villains - at home and abroad.
Currently, Suriya's "S3", the third in the "Singam" series, is all set to hit the screens on December 23 in Tamil as well as Telugu.
The News Minute caught up with the actor as he gears up for the release.
What's it like to work with director Hari?
Whenever I get into a "Singam" movie, I have to match director Hari sir's energy. He doesn't just sit in one place - he energizes the whole set with his directions and positive talk. He doesn't mind medical bottlenecks like fever and never slows down. More than being physically fit and muscular to play a cop, my challenge is to be ready to deliver as per his expectations. He expects freshness and energy every day and doesn't compromise even on the minute details like my haircut and uniform material. This level of detailing is for all actors, not just me. He is very clear in his opinions and has all the pros and cons clearly analyzed. After wrapping the day's shoots at 6 pm, he would discuss non-stop till 11 pm regarding the next day's shoots. We just have to go with him and preserve our energy levels.
Hari sir has that constant worry to satisfy his audience base and that's humbling, for someone of his stature and success levels. He maintains a low-key image, doesn't brag about himself, doesn't speak much in public and is profuse in his praise and respect for other directors, technicians. He is sincere to what he knows.
"Singam" came out in 2010 and "Singam 2" was in 2013. Why did you think the time was right for "S3"?
Initially, we thought that Duraisingam had to age a bit; let him have kids and stuff. Hari sir had readied a military-based story in a village backdrop and also had a bound script after spending about 6 months on it. A producer was also ready! But we were pulled back to the Singam franchise by the audience's feedback. A real life incident, which happened during the reigns of MGR and NTR in TN and Andhra respectively, has been integrated into the script. "S3" will follow the format which has been established in the first two parts. The film will have a whopping 365 scenes, when the usual film norm is about 60 to 80 scenes. There is so much to show.
Has Duraisingam changed in "S3"?
Here, the cop's bravery is not about his physicality. It's about the emotions, the actions of other characters and the support from his family. He's not a one-man army! He is not this fiery cop 24 hours but has his family life firmly in place. The franchise has had that balance always and it isn't out of proportion at any time. Hari sir set that energy meter back in 2010 and only when there is a need, Duraisingam becomes aggressive and emotional.
Tell us about working with Mr India Thakur Anoop Singh who is playing the villain.
Actually, a foreigner was supposed to do the villain character but now I am very happy that Anoop Singh did it. The entire team loved him. For a 1 min 45 secs long scene, he memorized all his Tamil lines and spoke them so well, without the need for any prompting. He was sincere, punctual and has put his heart and soul into the film. Watch out for his shirtless climax episode.
Will "S3" have a lot of Singam punchlines?
The punchlines are always connected to that scene, emotion and moment, and are not force-fitted just for the sake of it. We have avoided punchlines which didn't fit into the film's flow. Coming to the dubbing part, my throat has become dry due to all the strain (laughs). I have a sensitive voice and can't dub for more than 2-3 hours at a stretch. I had to use hot water and few other elements to relax my throat, every now and then. But my voice output is not just in my hands. Every mic will make you sound different and the mixing also plays a part. It is manipulated to a good extent.
For "Thaana Serntha Koottam", you're working with Vignesh Shivan. The director had recently tweeted that he was a school kid while watching "Kaakha Kaakha" and that he can't believe he is directing you now. What is it like to work with him?
There is a lot to unlearn and relearn when working with the younger generation. Rahman sir told me once that we have to connect to the younger generation to make it work; I can't agree more. I like Vignesh's fresh writing style, the behavior of his characters etc. I need to work on my part and can't just be shooting casually. "Thaana Serntha Koottam" would be in a different format and even seniors like Ramya Krishnan and Senthil would be in non-regular avatars against the usual norm.
Your 36th film will be helmed by Selvaraghavan, who recently likened you to Aamir Khan. Your comments?
It is so nice of him to say such generous words. Both of us have done different kinds of films and that merge is going to be exciting. He will be demanding for sure.
How do you think "24" worked as a film? Do you think Tamil cinema is ready for such experiments?
I don't want to step away from doing something new. Kamal sir kept breaking norms and trends with films like "Salangai Oli", "Pesum Padam" and "Nayagan". I can't touch such films, but when Vikram Kumar came up with this time travel script, it was exciting. I wanted to give such a film to this generation and I'm very happy with the way it has been received, be it the visuals, the characters or the storytelling. It is not possible to satisfy 100% of the audience with such films. But I want to attempt something different and can't keep doing the same kind of films. I don't want to let go of films like "24" and "Vaaranam Aayiram" just because a section of the audience won't like it.