February 23 2020
‘Kadai Kutty Singam’ reminds me of life’s simple things, says Karthi
10 July 2018

Karthi plays the youngest brother to five doting sisters in Pandiraj’s Kadai Kutty Singam. The actor talks about growing up the youngest and about working in a film that’s being produced by brother Suriya

Actor Karthi chooses an interesting metaphor to describe the acting range of a Tamil film actor. He says a good actor needs to know two types of swimming. “You need to be able to swim in a river just as well as in a swimming pool.”

The river he is describing is the list of village-based films he’s done with great success, which includes his career-defining role in Paruthiveeran. “Growing up in Chennai, I was used to swimming pools. But rivers were always going to be a challenge.”

The difference, Karthi feels, compared to others who grew up in the city, was his yearly trips to his mother’s village and the summer months he spent there.

“There’s a different pace to life there. The Tamil that was spoken there, how my uncles behaved and even the way my grandfather sat on his chair were imprinted in my mind. Even when I returned home to Madras, I realised that I had brought back some of those mannerisms. A lot of what goes into my rural roles is what I picked up back then.”

He distinctly talks about a maternal uncle, who is more a friend than a parental figure. “I remember him literally pushing me into a well and later into a river, so I could learn how to swim in choppy waters. He played a big part in toughening me up. He also taught me how to ride a motorbike, even though my dad was against it. Later, he made a deal with me, that if I got a score above 1000 in my exams, he would get me a new bike. I managed to score 1004, and before I knew it, he was here in Madras, dangling the keys to my new Yamaha RX 100, which I still have.”

A homecoming

He’s describing these moments in such detail because Kadai Kutty Singam, his next release, is a film that has served him as a reminder about the simpler things in life. “No matter how well-read or educated we become, we still need to realise the importance of family, and how no amount of money can match the wealth of strong relationships. That’s what the film is about.”

The family in Kadai Kutty Singam is not just incidental. It is also being produced by his brother Suriya, who “visited the sets just once”. “We try not to talk too much about the films we’re doing. Being the younger brother, I find it tough to keep my opinions to myself; but Suriya knows a hundred ways to shut me up,” he laughs.

Yet when it comes to choosing scripts, Karthi says he, at times, needs his brother’s advice. “I think a lot of people know this about us. So now, I have directors cleverly pitching scripts, hoping Suriya would steal it from me,” he says with a laugh.

He compliments the efforts of his brother’s production house to take this film to the next level. “You might have agreed to do a film with a director because you like his work, but production plays a big part in making it bigger. If you take a look at Ghajini, Suriya managed to bring in cinematographer Rajasekhar, editor Anthony and composer Harris Jayaraj on board. And that’s the difference between Murugadoss’ Ramanaa and Ghajini.”

Father figure

Karthi is quick to note the irony that despite him talking about the importance of family, his job requires him to be months away from his own. Add that to his role as a member of the Nadigar Sangam and it’s family time that suffers most. “Even when we were growing up, my dad was working 18 hours, to complete eight films a year. We saw very little of him back then. But now, I find myself working months away from my daughter and it really gets to me. At least when I’m at home, I’ve made it a point to keep my mobile phone away and to use it like a landline. It’s the least I can do.”



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