The musician-turned-actor opens up about his latest film Anbarivu, which released on Disney+ Hotstar a few hours ago
Hiphop Tamizha Adhi
Hiphop Tamizha Adhi is a name to reckon with in Kollywood, thanks to the hit films he has been part of as a music director, and later as an actor, too. He also tried his hands at direction with his previous outing Sivakumarin Sabadham. All excited about the direct release of Anbarivu on Disney+ Hotstar, the young artist feels he has a long way to go.
In a chat with OTTplay, he narrates the experiences working for Anbarivu, his dream to compose music in several languages, repeated collaboration with Sundar C and Sathya Jyothi Films, and why he wants to be part of only responsible movies. Excerpts...
Anbarivu is your first direct-to-OTT release. Your thoughts...
I'm happy that the movie got released irrespective of the platform, though it's true that every artist or filmmaker would love watching their works on the big screen. But with a surge in the pandemic, I feel the producers made the right move to release it on an OTT platform. Luckily, everything happened for a good reason.
The trailer of the movie was launched at Bigg Boss Tamil 5 house with its host Kamal Haasan attending it. How was the unique experience?
I never expected that Kamal sir would shower praise on my music. He said he knows me right from the famous jallikattu protest which happened five years ago. It was a surreal moment when he said he likes my indie music. I have always been a comfortable person on stage. But this was one of those rare occasions where I went speechless.
This is the first time you have played dual roles. How taxing was that?
It was really challenging, but then director Aswin Raam ensured that I was given adequate time to switch between the two contrasting characters. I didn't require any reference to play the Madurai-based character as I belong to Madurai. But for the Canada-based role, I observed the mannerisms of an Indian rapper who was born and brought up in the US. I had to be more focused in Anbarivu when compared to my previous outings.
This film required you to portray more emotions when compared to your last films. How was it to play highly emotionally-driven roles?
I think this was the right time to explore my ability in pulling off emotionally-driven characters. People might not accept if we choose such characters in the first or second movies. This is my fifth project as an actor and I thought I got this role(s) at the proper time.
Anbarivu had several senior actors. How fruitful was the experience working with them ?
For me, working with them was like visiting an acting school. I took it as an opportunity to learn a lot of things. A lot of people spent money to get taught in acting by legends. I was blessed to get tips from senior actors like Napolean sir and Saikumar sir. More than the acting part, it was a great experience listening to Napolean sir talk about his perspectives on life. Saikumar sir, on the other hand, used to explain me about his process of emoting whenever we acted together.
You have a boy-next-door image among the audience. But Anbu, the Madurai-based character was portrayed as a larger-than-life character at least in a few scenes. Was that a purposeful attempt?
If you look at the movie, it is Arivu, the Canada-based character who is actually the hero of the movie. Madurai-based Anbu isn't a hero as he doesn't know to treat everyone equally. In fact, the latter has got a grey shade. We didn't plan to give a larger-than-life image to the character. All we did was depicting his flaws through a few scenes in which his aggressive nature was showcased.
Since you are a director, too, how has the approach towards acting changed?
When I'm an actor, I make sure I completely surrender to my director and follow his instructions. I don't need to break my head over giving different dimensions to the characters I play when someone else is already at the helm of affairs.
Do you plan to direct more movies in the future?
I set out to do something only when something hits me hard. Be it the music video Tamizhi or the documentary Thee Veeran, I should feel that it's time I convert my thoughts or feelings into an art form. I wanted to direct Sivakumarin Sabadham when I got to know some interesting details on Kanchipuram saree. I thought of making a documentary first, but I felt a movie would fetch more reach. For now, I'm busy with two projects and there is no plan to direct a movie.
Sivakumarin Sabadham, Anbarivu and your next untitled outing - three films back-to-back with Sathya Jyothi Films...What makes you team up with a production house repeatedly?
I was a small town boy who came to the industry without any background. i don't know many people in the film industry and I'm not so good at networking. Unlike other industries, there isn't any particular work culture in film industry. From the time I made my debut in Meesaya Murukku, my motto has been trusting the people who trust me.
I have worked repeatedly with Sundar C as well. I don't mind working with him or Sathya Jyothi Films again as long as they trust me. Moreover, I look at repeated collaborations with same team in a positive manner. It means they are happy working with with me. I'm still trying to understand the business aspects of cinema.
Are you planning to juggling acting with singing?
Music is something which comes naturally to me. It has always been a part of my life. I don't feel like working when I'm experimenting with music, unlike acting or directing. I have a studio designed in my caravan where I had composed the background score for Anbarivu.
In fact, I also have set up several equipment in my car. I spend most of the time with music, during shot breaks or schedule breaks. Till now, I have composed music for films in which I played the hero. I want other musicians to compose for projects which have me playing the lead. I had suggested Aswin and Saravanan, the director of my next project, to try other music directors. But both of them insisted that I should compose for the movies.
How keen are you on composing music in other languages? You already did a few Telugu projects...
As far as music is concerned, I want to associate with as many languages as possible. The approach to music or the perception towards music differs from language to language. Working in different languages will be an enriching experience.
You have been playing happy-go-lucky characters and choosing full-on entertainers from the beginning. Do you have plans to take up serious roles or movies which deal with hard-hitting topics?
I think I know why exist in the industry; it's because of the unconditional love and support from people. I am aware of the set of fans who are rooting for me whenever my film releases. I want to keep delivering to them. If you look at all the five films I have acted in, the characters are actually different.
Be it the college student in Meesaya Murukku, the person with pseudobulbar affect in Naan Sirithal, the sportsperson in Natpe Thunai and the next two movies, all of them have me playing contrasting roles. I know that a lot of kids and youngsters are watching my films, so I want to be part of responsible movies. I'm a happy-go-lucky person in real life and I think that's why filmmakers come to me with such characters. But I don't mind trying different things.
Your next film is with ARK Saravan. What can we look forward to?
All I can say is that it will be the biggest project of my career in terms of the scale. It has fantasy elements and I'm getting trained for the last 20 days for something which I can't reveal now.