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‘If appa hadn’t come to Chennai, we would have been farmers’: Karthi

Express News Service

It looks like Karthi found a dream role in last week’s Pandiraj directorial Kadaikutty Singam, which features him as a farmer. He feels strongly about the lack of ethical practices in the agricultural industry. “Suddenly people have woken up towards agriculture. People are ready to buy organic products even if they’re expensive. But when corporates get into farming, they don’t care about the nutrition, only about profit. Are we really aware of what we’re eating and where it’s coming from?” asks Karthi, who believes that the village lifestyle and food habits are healthier.

Excerpts from a conversation with the actor follow:

You had previously stated that yours is also a farming family.

If my appa hadn’t come to Chennai, we would’ve been farmers. So I could relate to everything in Kadaikutty Singam. Some people questioned why certain characters cried in some scenes. That’s how unaware people in the city are of the lifestyle in villages, and it’s very sad.

Did you consciously try not to be too preachy about agriculture in the film?

Yes, we were very careful with that. Everyone has the knowledge, so arivurutha thevai illa, nenaivutuna pothum (smiles).

The joint family set up was also something you could relate to, I imagine.

Absolutely. A joint family doesn’t mean everyone living harmoniously. But it does act as a support system. I was talking to someone from the US who had a marriage issue. He had to go to three counsellors to find a solution. If he was in a joint family, we’d say ‘kalyanam na appadi thaan da irrukum, ennakum appadi thaan da irruku’ and there would end the issue. Such support and reassurance is priceless.

Kadaikutty Singam has an ensemble cast. What was it like to work on such a film?

Each character is unique and not just part of the crowd. Each actor had a scene to score and each one carried it off so beautifully. I used to joke that we were like the Baahubali family. For instance, in a scene with Ilavarasu sir, I felt like I was talking with my own mama. With Sathyaraj sir, I was the same irrespective of whether the camera was on or not. The grandma in the film is actually Keerthy Suresh’s paati. We all shared such a comfort zone and got attached to each other. During the last day shoot, many of us even cried.

I felt that the film didn’t have much heroism.

Avan (his character) vanthaale heroism thaan (laughs). That’s the advantage of a village subject. The scene where he says ‘senjathey sollikaatadhe maa’ also shows his heroism. People clap for such a scene too. So action alone isn’t heroism.

After seeing the film a lady said she spoke to her brother who she hadn’t spoken to for years. Priya Bhavani Shankar’s mother has five sisters and a brother. All of them, along with her grandfather who had never stepped into a theatre for 20 years, saw the film. And they all felt like it was a slice of their life.

The film is produced by your brother Suriya. What was it like to work with him for the first time?

It was quite comfortable. We loved the script, so every time we shot, we were trying to make it better. There were no arguments as everybody wanted the best. Anna would often call and check if the hotel and food were good — not just for the actors but for the entire unit. Such care made us all feel connected.

Is it a conscious decision to strike a balance between urban and rural films?

Not really. I wanted to play a farmer as we don’t see that profession on the big screen these days. It’s important to remind people about the lives of farmers as well. Moreover, only those who understand it and have lived that life can pull it off. Pandiraj sir is one of the very few who can execute such a film. He was so emotionally attached to the film, he even cried while shooting a lot of scenes.

Considering your market in the Telugu industry, do you choose films keeping that in mind as well?

I just have to like a story and character. Kadaikutty Singam is about an agricultural family and will work all over South India. It’s not an alien subject for anyone. Such a film about families hadn’t come in either industry for a long time, so it made sense to release it in both languages.

You started out as an assistant director and even recently you said you wish to direct Suriya. Is there something in the offing?

I’m not sure if I’ll do it anytime soon. I’ve realised that I’m not a good writer (laughs). But there’s no rush for me to direct. If I get a good story that I can translate into a script, I’ll do it.

Tell us about your next film, Dev.

We’re halfway through the filming. It will be similar to Paiyaa. It’s about romance, friendship, and travel. How people view relationships is evolving so how the next generation views it is what we’ve worked on. I’ve also zeroed in on two other scripts.

Source: The New Indian Express