Suriya talks about Thaana Serndha Kootam: 'Being Mr perfect in films gets boring after a point'

Hemanth Kumar

January 09, 2018 12:17:36 IST

Back in 2003, when Suriya donned the role of a police officer in Gautham Menon’s Kaakha Kaakha, little did we know that this avatar was going to dominate his career for almost 15 years. Even though, he has had numerous hits and acclaimed films including Ghajini, Ayan, 24, Vaaranam Aayiram and Rakta Charitra to name a few, it was the Singham trilogy that cast a long shadow on his filmography for the past few years.

It’s at this juncture of his career that his latest film Thaana Serndha Kootam, which will also release in Telugu as Gang, feels so fresh, so to speak. In the film’s teaser, there’s even a dialogue where when someone asks Suriya if he’s planning to join the police force, he replies, “We have seen enough of policemen. Now, I’m on a different track.” This line, in particular, is a not so subtle reference to his own career.

Surya in Thaana Serndha Koottam.

Ask him if it was necessary to underline the fact that he’s on a different track, Suriya laughs and says, “I think it’s also a cue for the audience to not expect the regular stuff from me. That’s what Vignesh Shivan was aspiring for. From day one, I sensed that he was going to take me into a different space which I haven’t been part of, for sometime at least. And the whole experience too was on similar lines. Never was anything dealt with in a serious manner. Even if the situation was calling for it, we would contemplate if there’s another route that we could try. So, I am hoping that people also will notice all this and see the change that Vignesh has brought in.”

Directed by Vignesh Shivan, the film is inspired from the 1987 Opera House Heist which was also the subject of Neeraj Pandey’s Special 26. In our recent interview with Vignesh Shivan, he acknowledged that they had bought the remake rights of Special 26; however, he adapted the story in his own style to suit the local sensibilities. Going by the teaser, it’s evident that Suriya had a blast shooting for the film and he confesses that it’s the first time since Ayan (2009) that he has done a film which has an eclectic mix of action, romance, comedy and drama. “It has a mix of everything, and it’s not just anger and action like some of my previous films. It’s a relief when you don’t have to be Mr. Perfect all the time. That gets boring after a point,” Suriya quips.

At a recent media interaction in Chennai, the actor recalled how several roles that he played in recent times have had a tinge of anger in their characterisation and that also reflected in the way he says his dialogues. Elaborating further, he says, “It’s become easier for me because I had put myself in that box on a constant basis. If I’ve to do a scene where I’m required to be angry, then I would finish it in one take; however, if it’s a funny scene then I’ll have to put in more effort because I have to modulate my voice and make it more funny (smiles).”

Suriya is all praise for Vignesh Shivan and admits that it’s the latter’s positive approach that helped him identify with the role in Thaana Serndha Kootam. 

“He was clear that he wanted to make a retro-classic. To be frank, he’s is the only director who told me, ‘Sir, I know you are a big actor, who has several big budget films to your credit, and have a big market to cater to, but we are trying to do something different here. When was the last time you went to a tea shop in the middle of the night to sip hot tea? Let’s not discuss our film in a coffee shop. If you don’t mind, can you come out, in the middle of the night, with me, sir? There’s a tea shop near Valluvar Kottam (in Chennai), where you get nice hot cup of chai. I’ll come from Nugambakkam and you come from Adyar, and let’s be there on time, otherwise the chai will get over. Let’s see people who live normal lives, people who still have to struggle to make their ends meet.’ That’s how my characterisation in the film started growing. Even today, there are a lot of people walking from office to office with their files for interviews, and they still don’t get a job inspite of having a degree. Most of the time, in our lives, talent doesn’t meet opportunity. There might be a lot more talented people out there, but now, it’s all about who’s getting the spotlight. A lot of incidents and issues like these are addressed in the film," he adds.

Having worked with the likes of Bala, Mani Ratnam, and Gautham Menon, to name a few, in the beginning stages of his career, Suriya is well-aware of the difference in sensibilities that each filmmaker has. Vignesh Shivan, who by his own admission was still in school when Kaakha Kaakha released, is almost 10 years younger than Suriya. “We have to adapt ourselves to the times we live in. We all have different sensibilities and as an actor, I have to be able to connect with them all. At the same time, I must assure you that the sensibilities of the audience won’t be taken for a ride. Even if something is addressed in a satirical way, it’s done aesthetically. It’s coming from the right place. It’s not an illogical and brainless laughter thing," he says.

Ask him if young filmmakers today come with a very different mind-set, and he says, “Yes, of course. They are very spontaneous. The way they write dialogues feels effortless and nothing is too serious or preachy. They handle things in a lighthearted way. Even if something untoward happens, they don’t take it too seriously. Now, I don’t think there’s any space for emotion, crying, brooding over it. I don’t see this generation doing it, leave alone young filmmakers. Even if there’s a death in the family or close circle, youngsters today just get over it in half a day’s time. I’m seeing all that happening around me and it’s somehow pushing me into a zone where I shouldn’t take life too seriously. Maybe, a lot of people who don’t take life too seriously will be able to enjoy Thaana Serndha Kootam even more because it’s such a fun film".

Whether it comes to working with a veteran director like Mani Ratnam or a youngster like Vignesh Shivan, Suriya states that his approach to cinema and acting itself hasn’t changed much.

“More than me changing my style of acting, I have to be my director’s actor, whatever he or she expects out of me. I should be able to do justice to what has been written for me. It won’t be nice if I have a different opinion from that of my director. I would always want my directors to be somewhere smarter and more intelligent than me.”

Meanwhile, back in Tamil Nadu, there’s a lot brewing in the film industry with several actors including Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Vishal, Raghava Lawrence and few others making it evident that they are going to join politics. However, Suriya has remained firmly apolitical. Ask him if he, at times, feels the pressure to move in that direction like his peers, Suriya says, “I’m like anybody else. I’m hoping for the best to happen and hope that the deserving candidates win. Let’s hope for the best (smiles).”

Updated Date: Jan 09, 2018 12:22 PM