Ahead of 'Udanpirappe’s' release, actor-filmmaker Sasikumar speaks about playing rural characters, the experience of working with co-stars Jyotika and Samuthirakani, his acting process, and more.

Not all films strike an emotional chord but Udanpirappe will Sasikumar intvScreengrab/YouTube- Amazon Prime Video
Flix Interview Friday, October 08, 2021 - 12:11

Exploring the relationship between two siblings Vairavan (Sasikumar) and Mathangi (Jyotika), upcoming Tamil family-drama Udanpirappe is set to premiere on streaming platform Amazon Prime Video on October 14. Written and directed by Era Saravanan, the film also stars Samuthirakani (as Sargunam) in the lead, while actors Soori and Kalaiyarasan among others form the supporting cast.  A part of the four-film deal signed between Suriya and Jyotika’s 2D Entertainment and Amazon Prime Video, Udanpirappe marks actor Jyotika’s 50th film. The story is set in Pudukkottai and turns the spotlight on the relationship between the siblings, while also discussing other social issues. The recently released trailer indicates that the film will also focus on an ideological tussle between Vairavan and Sargunam. While the former thinks justice has to be wrested, Sargunam counts on the law to take its course.  

In a conversation with TNM ahead of the film’s release, Sasikumar spoke about Udanpirappe’s script, experience of working with co-stars, his acting process, playing rural characters, donning the director’s hat and more.  

Starting from Sethu and Subramaniapuram (Sasikumar’s critically acclaimed directorial debut) to Petta, playing authentic rural-based characters has been Sasikumar’s forte. “I hail from a village in Madurai. Though I moved out of my village to pursue college and despite living in Chennai now, I have continued to have close ties with my village. So, the people I interact with, the things I encounter and all the experiences become part of my stories,” he observes. 

So, why did the actor say yes to Udanpirappe? “Actually, apart from being actors, we are also the first set of audience. So, while hearing the script, at that particular moment, the script needs to appeal to us in some way. Director Saravanan, who is also my good friend, had narrated three scenes from the film to me, and I really liked it. He then narrated the story,” Sasikumar says. Tamil cinema is not new to films based on the relationship between siblings but the actor points out how all films don’t manage to strike an emotional chord with audience. He believes that Udanpirappe will. He adds that he trusts director Saravanan’s writing, direction and vision for the rural-drama to be authentic since the filmmaker hails from a village too. 

Apart from the fact that the actor found a strong emotional connect with the story, the opportunity to work with co-stars Samuthirakani and Jyotika is perhaps also the reason why he had no doubts about signing the film. “Working with Jyotika Ma’am has been a huge learning opportunity. She is a great artist and Udanpirappe is her 50th film. Watching her finish difficult scenes in a single take was very inspiring and we learnt a lot from her,” he shares. As for his association with Samuthirakani, the actor expresses that he couldn't be happier about sharing the screen space with him in a full-length role for the second time. Interestingly, both the actor-directors have played pivotal roles in each other’s films. Were they able to observe how they’ve changed and evolved as artists? Sasikumar quickly clarifies, “Although we haven’t collaborated on-screen for a long time, we have been associated behind-the-scenes over the years. I do guest appearances in his movies or have lent my voice for narrations in his films.” 

Sharing that the film is close to his heart, Sasikumar assures that by the end of the film, the audience would want to pick up their phones, talk to their own siblings and mend broken familial bonds. 

Images from Udanpirappe. Credit: Amazon Prime Video 

Vairavan, a local-hero believes in taking the law into his own hands in Udanpirappe. Is Sasikumar worried about the portrayal of violence on-screen creating a negative impact among audiences? “That is why it is important to also show the repercussions of violence. Udanpirappe also discusses the cost one has to pay when violence is the path they chose and so did Subramaniapuram,” he says. 

Though some filmmakers often take it upon themselves to discuss important social issues through films, they have garnered criticism from audiences and reviewers alike when films are too ‘preachy’ or if they turn into ‘message padams’. Sharing his take on the subject, Sasikumar opines, “That may be the case but we can’t stop doing what we do because of that, right? If your father or brother advises you, you’d brush it aside and ignore it. It’s natural for everyone to think that way. I used to feel that way when I was younger too. But once we get older, their advice would eventually be helpful. So, we should pass our message along to our brothers and sisters, even if they don’t like it now. In retrospect, they might agree and resonate with what we said. So, I don’t think it is wrong at all.” He also adds, “Who else will discuss these? It is only by incorporating these social messages in entertainment movies that it reaches the audiences.”

Looking at Sasikumar’s filmography, one then wonders if he specifically looks for scripts that are message-driven. Responding to the question, he laughingly says that it just so happens that those are the kind of scripts he is predominantly being approached with.  

Watch the trailer of Udanpirappe here: 

Be it their process, craft or perceptions towards art, the approach each artist uses varies from one another, especially among actors. Giving insights on his acting process, Sasikumar quips: “I initially thought that actors had to stay in character and in their zone before the shot. But that changed after working with experienced artists who get into the skin of the character within seconds. I think it is important for us to learn that and I have been learning to do that.” 

What are the add-ons that actor-filmmakers bring to the table? Are they more collaborative? That seems to be the case with Sasikumar, who shares that he has suggestions for his filmmakers but leaves it upon the filmmakers to decide whether to consider them. “Since I’ve been a director too, I think the relationship between director and actors needs to be good and respectful. I give suggestions and ask them to consider it if they like it but the final call is theirs to make. I am okay if they don’t take my suggestions too, since there’s an understanding that I share with my directors.” 

Ask Sasikumar if audiences will see him as a filmmaker in near future, he says that he has not donned the director’s hat in recent times, but that he is all set to direct a film next year.  

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