Have Been Discussing With AR Rahman: Sivakarthikeyan on Taking Ayalaan to B’Wood
Sivakarthikeyan talks about playing a character unlike his earlier films in 'Doctor'.
In Tamil Nadu, Sivakarthikeyan is a household name and enjoys a huge fanbase. Over the course of the last decade, he’s come a long way from a television anchor to a star whose films enjoy the same kind of reception like those of Rajinikanth, Vijay and Ajith.
Ahead of the release of his Tamil film Doctor on Saturday, The Quint sat down with him for a chat on what’s it like to have a release after a pandemic, the life lessons he’s acquired over the last year and a half and gearing up to take his upcoming science-fiction film Ayalaan, which features an alien as the central character, to Bollywood and present on a bigger scale.
Last seen playing a masked crusader in the highly ambitious superhero film Hero (which didn’t click at the box-office), Sivakarthikeyan is kicked for the release of Doctor, which he hopes will bring back audiences in hordes. It’s Tamil cinema’s first major star-centric film to release since the theatres reopened after the second wave of the pandemic.
As he looks back at the last two years of his life, Siva admits that little did he worry about his films or career. “Throughout the pandemic and the two lockdowns, I never thought about my projects,” he said.
“My concern was only about my near and dear ones, people who work on my projects and what I can do to help them during this phase. I was of the mindset that nobody should get affected because of the pandemic. It is only when you care for these people and help them overcome this situation, there'd be any sense in even thinking of films.”Sivakarthikeyan
Doctor was originally supposed to be released in cinemas last year. After the first lockdown, the makers were all set for the release. The plan got postponed at the last minute.
Asked if the delayed release would affect the overall hype around the film, Siva said: “I think the decision to not release the trailer until recently helped us sustain the hype. We believe the hype was revived after seeing the response for the trailer. Also, the success of the ‘Chellamma’ (a chartbuster track from the album) song helped in maintaining the hype. I believe this will be the right start for the industry after the second lockdown.”
In Doctor, Sivakarthikeyan has played a character quite contrary to the onscreen image he has created over the years. He plays an army doctor who goes after a human and organ trafficking gang. He has minimal dialogues.
Asked if he had any qualms about playing a character that’s unlike anything he’s played so far, he said: “I’m trying to experiment in whatever ways I can within the commercial space. While I agree that I play a serious character with very few dialogues, the film will still be entertaining.”
“I think that’s what makes Nelson a very interesting filmmaker. Even though he explores the world of kidnapping in Doctor; he’s still managed to explore humour out of very serious situations. If you look at Kolamavu Kokila and Doctor, you realise that Nelson likes exploring dark subjects in a lighter vein, and that I think is his style of storytelling,” Sivakarthikeyan added.
Sivakarthikeyan and Nelson have known each other for 14 years. Even before Siva forayed into acting, he briefly assisted Nelson on Vettai Mannan, which was eventually shelved. Asked if the long-standing relationship ever came in the way of their professional relationship?
“We definitely have a lot of trust for each other. But we were very particular about not taking advantage of each other. He initially pitched the story idea which I liked but he handed over the script book a few months before the shoot. It really helped me to prepare for the project.”
“Even before we could go for a shoot, we discussed things that we weren't sure of, things that needed to be addressed before commencing work on the project. I was very clear of doing a movie in his zone, in the area that he's known for making his stories. The only thing that I pushed from my side is the Chellamma song which was never planned in the first place when we locked the script. It's in his film that I'm working, and that's how I saw it from the beginning.”Sivakarthikeyan
Siva has an interesting line up of projects which include his plans to diversify into Telugu industry. He remains tight-lipped about his upcoming Telugu-Tamil bilingual project which he confirms is in the process of materialising. Among his upcoming films, alien invasion comedy Ayalaan is riding high on expectations.
“It’s a film that’s been in the making for quite some time. We are still figuring out the release plans as we recently decided that we’d like to explore the option of releasing it in Hindi as well. It has the scope and scale to appeal to Bollywood audiences. We’ve been discussing the Hindi release plans with A.R Rahman sir. If everything works out well, we will take the film to Bollywood.”
Does this mean Sivakarthikeyan aspires to follow in the footsteps of southern actors who are making pan-Indian films? “I think it’s the story of a film that should decide whether it can be accepted by pan-Indian audiences."
Sivakarthikeyan added, "A film like Ayalaan, which has an alien in a pivotal role, would appeal to wider audiences in my opinion. We didn’t start Ayalaan as a pan-Indian project but the way it has shaped up and the presence of Rakul (Preet Singh), who is quite popular across industries, gave us the confidence to explore the option.”
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