By Kaushik LM
Tamil actor Sivakarthikeyan is on a high. His much talked about film “Remo” is all set to release on October 7. The posters with Sivakarthikeyan dressed as a woman have generated a lot of curiosity and interest.
Sivakarthikeyan is one of Kollywood’s fastest rising stars. How did he manage to make the switch from being an anchor on Star Vijay TV to a popular hero?
Speaking to The News Minute, Sivakarthikeyan says, "I would attribute my success mainly to my connect with the people. From my TV days, they have been receptive to my work and when I got into films, that response continued. I also make sure I deliver what they expect from me, which is clean entertainment.”
Sivakarthikeyan is conscious of his audience and believes in giving them what they want. He adds, “My directors pack my films with the necessary elements. For example, director Ponram knew that kids have taken a big liking towards me and he made me dance with a group of children in the title song of “Rajini Murugan”."
“Remo”, directed by Bakkiyaraj, will see him in a dual role. How comfortable was he with the idea of cross-dressing?
Sivakarthikeyan says, "After director Bakkiyaraj's narration, I didn't open up to anyone for a few days as I couldn't visualize myself as a lady. I thought people would discourage me from taking this up. I finally shared this idea with my friends, including Sathish and Arunraja Kamaraja, and narrated the script to them for about 45 mins. They responded positively and laughed at the very same moments which appealed to me as well.”
Sivakarthikeyan then discussed the idea with his family and other than his mother, who was a little shocked, the rest were encouraging. He listened to the script once again and gave it the nod.
Speaking of his experience on the sets of “Remo”, the young actor says, “Cross-dressing is the biggest challenge in cinema and I've given it my all for “Remo”. I don't see myself taking up such an experiment again."
Sivakarthikeyan recalls the many makeup techniques that were used when filming “Remo”: “I couldn't afford to look hefty in the nurse look and had to become really lean. I stopped gymming for about 7 months and lost up to 9 kilos. I had to look cute in this look and match Keerthy's age, too.”
Initially, Sivakarthikeyan says, they tried out prosthetic makeup but that made him look too old. He laughingly adds that he had to go through the pain of waxing and threading as well.
On the female character he’s playing
Tamil cinema hasn’t been particularly sensitive when it has portrayed cross-dressing characters. Will “Remo” be any different? Sivakarthikeyan asserts that the focus was to show the nurse (the female character that he’s playing) in a “pleasing manner”.
He says, “We haven't portrayed her in any derogatory way. Also, for these portions, I dubbed for just five minutes of footage each day. I took about 4 to 5 hours each day in the morning to complete this. I used to shuttle from my house in ECR to Prasad Labs daily. It was tough, as my voice needed ample rest while dubbing for the lady portions."
On Keerthy Suresh
Keerthy Suresh, who paired up with him in “Rajini Murugan”, is the heroine in “Remo” too.
Sivakarthikeyan speaks of his co-star: "We initially approached many heroines but for some reason or the other, they backed out. But cameraman PC Sreeram sir was clear from the beginning that Keerthy was the apt choice for this film.”
Sivakarthikeyan wasn’t very keen on repeating the heroine but believes that Keerthy was perfect for “Remo”. “We needed an innocent face as she has to be oblivious to the hero wooing her, dressed as a nurse. Keerthy fitted the bill very well,” he says.
On the social responsibility of cinema
What does he feel about his films coming under criticism for glorifying and validating stalking, this method of “wooing”?
He says, "This has been a constant phenomenon in Tamil cinema since long. In all my films, I pursue the girl that I like, fall for her and ultimately marry her unfailingly. There is nothing wrong with that and I am not putting forth any wrong messages or ideas. This is also a kind of love and he is relentless in his approach towards a single girl just to make her reciprocate his love. He doesn't have any other intentions and doesn't move on, come what may, as his love is pure. Of course, negatives can be found in every film and it's all about perspective."
Sivakarthikeyan adds, "Stalking is indeed bad. One should always respect women and they should feel safe in society. I've never troubled a single woman in my life and have actually grown around them - be it my mom, sister, wife or daughter. I feel proud to have acted as a woman in 'Remo'."
Director Pa.Ranjith recently spoke of the social responsibility that film-makers should have when making a film. Is this something Sivakarthikeyan agrees with?
The actor responds: "It's his personal stance. He is someone who makes socially-inclined films and it's easy for him to have such an outlook. But, all films needn't be the same way and audiences want all kinds of films. There needs to be a mix of the socially responsible flicks and the commercial fare. The way I see it, I would be happy if my commercial films deliver some good social messages here and there."
On his inspirations
Sivakarthikeyan, who is a big Rajini fan, says that the latter’s films groomed his interest in cinema. After “Rajini Murugan”, the Superstar even called him and spoke for a brief while.
“I was so nervous and literally shaking while speaking to him,” Sivakarthikeyan recalls.
But it isn’t only the big stars who inspire him, anyone who crosses hurdles every day to get to the top makes an impression on him, Sivakarthikeyan says, perhaps remembering his own journey to the top.
Editor's Note: This interview has been updated on request.