RJ Balaji on turning to lead roles in LKG: I'd be a friendly neighbourhood hero, won't bash up goons
After playing supporting roles for the past four years, the multi-talented RJ Balaji is all set to don the greasepaint as the lead hero in Tamil film LKG.
After regaling audiences with quick-witted wisecracks in his inimitably epigrammatic style in supporting roles for the past four years, the multi-talented RJ Balaji is all set to don the greasepaint as the lead hero in Tamil film LKG, which is touted to be a mass political entertainer.
Firstpost got in touch with Balaji, who is currently busy performing his IPL duty as a highly-entertaining cricket commentator, to learn some exclusive things about the project, the first look of which received a glowing response from netizens on Friday night.
How did this project originate? You have penned the story and screenplay as well.
This project started as soon as I landed India after completing my US stand-up shows three months ago. For the past 11 years, all my work have been a team effort with my friends. LKG is also penned by my friends and me. When I was writing for my shows, I felt really liberated. And the writing process for my film has been an utterly liberating experience. I enjoyed it. We are currently fine-tuning the final draft and will go on floors from June.
Produced by Isari Ganesh's Vels Film International, LKG marks the directorial debut of Prabhu, a long-time associate of Prabhu Deva and ace lensman Ravi Varma.
Noted writer Era Murukan, who wrote the dialogues for Kamal Haasan's Unnai Pol Oruvan and Ajith's Billa 2, is co-writing LKG's dialogues with Pradeep Ranganathan. The film has a formidable technical crew in DoP Vidhu Ayyanna of Meyadhaa Maan-fame, composer Leon James and senior editor Anthony. Filmmaker Vignesh Shivan and Vivek have been signed as lyricists for the film.
Speculations are already rife that LKG is a remake of Danish Sait's Kannada political satire Humble Politician Nograj. Is it true?
It's not true. In fact, a lot of people recommended the film (Humble Political Nograj) to me to remake it. But I strongly felt that it won't suit me and my personality. And Tamil Nadu has a more enriched political background than Karnataka and our political scene is replete with a variety of exciting, intriguing factors. So LKG is an entirely fresh effort and an original script written by me along with my friends as a team.
In the last few months, we have seen a lot of political films across various languages to know what worked and what not. While we took the essential learnings from our experiences, LKG is not inspired by any movie. It's a new script because there's so much drama happening in the real political scenario that we didn't have the need to get inspired by an already-released film.
To bring authenticity, we had hours of interaction with people from top leadership to the lowest cadres of all major political parties in Tamil Nadu. We met nearly 65 to 70 persons including ex-politicians, incumbents, high-profile leaders from ruling as well as opposition parties, and also the aspiring and failed statesmen.
Despite starring in big budget star vehicles of late, you neither had enough screen space to prove your potential nor well-etched roles. Is this one of the reasons for taking the lead hero plunge? Or do you see this as a natural progression as an actor?
My natural progression is always to improve my skill set as an actor. And it's obvious and also true that I was not getting fulfilling roles, except on a few occasions, to prove my potential. Be it my RJ profession, or my stint as a commentator or my stand-up shows; I have always received great responses and been at the top of my game on every platform. The confidence in my work is what keeps me going. Somehow, my stint in movies so far has not given me immense satisfaction. I always had a feeling that I was falling short of something and could do much better.
While I had been rejecting a lot of films, the ones I picked too didn't whet my appetite as a performer except for a few projects. So, I told myself that I should write for me. It will at least put me in a spotlight to showcase my potential. I also wanted people to know what I'm capable of. At the same time, I wanted to do something socially responsible; not just a random film. We will not show the vibrant meme politics that's alive on Facebook and Twitter but the real political scene which is happening in the background.
Is LKG a political satire drama?
Now, a lot of people complain that youngsters are supporting a bad film (Iruttu Araiyil Murattu Kuthu). For the last two years, our youngsters have time and again proved that they are socially responsible than most others in the state. My film will substantiate the claim that our youngsters will also support this kind of scripts. While LKG will be a thoroughly entertaining mass film, it will also provide an opportunity for our youth force to witness the behind-the-scenes framework of politics.
Tamil cinema has seen a lot of good comedy actors turn heroes and lose their stardom quickly. Did you have any such apprehensions or is it a calculated move?
If I do things such as singing and dancing, which people at my home too won't like it, then it's not right to do those on screen. If I build six-pack abs or wear coolers and beat a bunch of people to a pulp, my people (family) too won't accept it. I can't be a cinema hero. I can be a normal hero and I believe that every normal person is a hero in their own lives. People have always seen me as one of their own, and on screen too, I would be the same person. In one of my interviews, someone called me a friendly neighbourhood superhero. I really love that title. So, I would be a friendly neighborhood hero who would not dance or whack all the goons at one go.
While Priya Anand is playing an important role in LKG, the project also marks the acting debut of firebrand ADMK politician Nanjil Sampath, who will be seen playing the role of Balaji's father.
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