From television to the silver screen, the journey of Sivakarthikeyan has been truly momentous. He had endeared himself to the small-screen audiences with his absolute and innate knack for benevolent and healthy humour. And that came to his advantage when he made the move to the big screen simply because audiences already had a perception that when it comes to Siva, there will sure be some healthy laughs.
Four years since he made his cinema debut in Marina, followed by 3 and Manam Kothi Paravai, it is no exaggeration that Siva had not had to look back. He has enjoyed back-to-back hits, and most importantly, he has endeared himself to both the metro and rural crowd. That is the sort of balance only few actors have commanded in such a short span of time.
After the resounding success of Rajni Murugan, especially in the rural circuit, Siva is all out to entertain audiences with another romantic comedy with Keerthy Suresh in Remo, now playing at theatres in the UAE.
While Siva has been to Dubai on several occasions, he is now in town for the first time to promote his film. In a free-wheeling interview, Siva, humble as one can be, discusses his career and goals:
First off; Remo stands out for your feminine role. How easy or difficult was it?
It was an interesting challenge to do the role of a young girl. I had to go through all the processes – waxing, threading and the works. I also had to reduce my weight for the role. We did a few make-up tests, and we hit the floor. On a normal day, it would take about four-and-a-half hours for the make-up itself, and another two-and-a-half hours to undo the make-up. It was a grueling session for about 45 days. But it was fun.
Did you have Kamal Haasan’s Avvai Shanmugi as your referral point?
Not really, because Kamal sir was playing an elderly woman, and in Remo, I play a young girl. I think it is the first time, we have attempted such a role in our cinema.
It was reported that after make-up you looked like the sister of Anushka Shetty…
(laughs)… probably that is because my make-up man was the same person who does make-up for Anushka… My friends and many others who saw the rushes and the film told me I looked pretty and my eyes were very lovely.
Normally, people bring in Hollywood make-up technicians for such roles. Do you think our make-up artists are on par with them?
I think in terms of skill-sets our make-up artists are truly world-class. What we lack are some of the products – and that is what we can source from Hollywood.
What can audiences expect from Remo, especially since it follows Rajni Murugan with the same lead?
It is a fun film, with humour and romance. I think people who liked Rajni Murugan will like this too.
One unique feature of Remo is that ace cinematographer PC Sriram is wielding the camera. How was the experience of working with him?
I was on cloud nine! Sriram sir is a legend and to work with him was a blessing. He approaches every movie as his first, so for us all, it was a great learning experience to work with him. And he has crafted the film beautifully.
It is the first time you are promoting your film in Dubai. Why now?
I have not really known how well my films were received here. If one film works, that could be due to any number of factors. But when films do repeatedly well, it makes you look at the market seriously. That is what has been happening with my films, so I decided to come here, and personally meet and thank all those wonderful people here who accept my films. It was a reality check for me to see so many people who love me and my films. I can only thank you all.
This festival, your film is releasing alongside that of Vijay Sethupathi. And a section of media has been comparing you both actors as the next competitor duo – like Rajnikanth-Kamal and Ajith-Vijay…
Oh, no, it is not at all the right thing to say. I do not encourage any competition between me and any of my co-stars. Once you start labelling like that, then competition heats up and even enmity results. I want to stay clear of all that. My competition is with Rajni Murugan. I want Remo to be better than that. I wish all the films that release this festival to do excellent at the box office.
There seems to be a chemistry between you and the composer Anirudh (who also does the music for Remo)…
There is a great comfort zone. We started our careers in film almost together. And our relationship is not about the profession. Anirudh says he does his best for me because he loves me (smiles). He would always say I am a mass hero and I would do mass music for me. You know, I take the credit for what he does.
From Ethir Neechal onwards, you seem to be very happy playing the common man, the underdog. Is that your comfort zone?
People seem to connect with me well as a common man or underdog, and I do not want to snub them. Of course, I would like to push my boundaries. But I would do it rather steadily.
Were you disappointed that Kakki Sattai did not get the reviews you would have loved
The film, no doubt, could have been better but thankfully no one has criticized me for doing the action scenes. In fact, my next movie is based on social issues and the director cast me only due to Kakki Sattai.
How do you rate the Tamil film industry now? Is it a great period for experimentation?
I think it is the masses, the people, who redefine our industry and the standards we set. Today, it is a great time to be in Tamil cinema where both commercial and offbeat films are doing well. Commercial films are an important part of the industry because their success feeds offbeat films. They keep the bells ringing.