Nakul, the chubby boy who made his film entry through Shankar’s Boys went on hibernation for a few years and has resurfaced on the Kollywood horizon looking trimmer than ever. This new kid on the block has made his emphatic entry through Kaadhalil Vizhundein, whose Nakka Mukka has become a youth anthem of sorts and the boy has become a heartthrob of young women overnight.

"I like all of Ajith’s films."

What is Kaadhalil Vizhunden to you?

Kaadhalil Vizhunden was previously Prasad sir’s baby but now it is my baby. We worked very hard and wanted the film to be a success. We took our own sweet time. When we liked something, we retained the shot and when we did not, we changed and re-shot.

How did ‘Boys’ happen?

Those days, I did not know anything about films or acting. My sister Devayani used to go for shooting and I was happily going to school and enjoying life. One day a manager from Shankar’s film unit approached my mom and informed me that director Shankar was looking for a group of boys and asked us to try. My mom sent our family picture focusing my elder brother. But Shankar sir had supposedly wanted me and had said “I want the fat boy”.

Road to ‘Boys’

That evening I went to Shankar sir’s office and had a casual chat with him. He asked me if I can sing and I sang and goofed up. Then he asked if I knew to play keyboard or drums, I lied to him saying that I knew a little bit of drums and keyboard when actually I knew nothing. Then I was asked to go for a screen test the next day. That is when I became anxious. A director like Shankar spending some time with me! The next day I went for a screen test and was asked to speak a few dialogues, sing songs etc. And I did everything. But I lied once again to my mom saying that 1500 applicants are there for the role and I don’t stand a chance. Mom encouraged me saying that it was participation that mattered and not winning. However I got a call that afternoon asking me to report to the office and give measurements and I was like- “What? Measurements?” And then I realized that I AM in the movie after all.

"I lied to Shankar sir"

‘Boys’ and the gang

Boys was a totally a new experience. I did not know anything about films, camera angles etc. I learnt so much during the shoot which was like a school. We were all silent during the shots and enjoyed during break times. Above all, I had excellent friends like Siddharth, Bharath, Sai and Mani who supported and encouraged me. The entire unit was like a family and I enjoyed working with such a great director and with such lovely friends.

"Siddharth is like my elder brother"

Did you anticipate that Bharath and Siddharth will scale greater heights?

Yes. I felt it then by way they conducted themselves on the sets. Bharath was a good dancer and also emoted well. I kept looking at them and learnt a good deal. In a way, they were my mentors. Siddharth is like my elder brother. He had already worked as an assistant director under Mani Rathnam sir and he knew a lot about film making. I was sure that they would become big stars in the future. They have some quality in them akin to a star and I am very proud of them. Siddharth is a big star in Andhra now and Bharath is rocking in Tamil Nadu. Sai, of course has changed his name to Thaman is a very good drummer and is composing music in Moscowin Kaveri. Everybody is talented. Manikandan is so passionate about films that if asked to jump from the 10th floor for a shot, he would do that.

On the success of Kaadhalil Vizhunden

I am a private person and I generally stay indoors. So, when the film was released I did not know anything about its response. After three days I got to know from the manager and my friends about the tremendous opening of the film. It was a pleasant shock and initially I did not believe and kept asking if what I was hearing was true. One of the websites had reported the opinion of viewers and everyone kept saying ‘super’, ‘great’, ‘kalakitte’ etc. I was in some kind of heaven. The audience response was tremendous. It is like I went in search of rocks but got diamonds instead. I am truly happy.

"I went in search of rocks but got diamonds"

What was your sister’s reaction to Kaadhalil Vizhunden?

Our entire family saw Kaadhalil Vizhunden at Kamala theatre. In fact I suggested to my akka that I will have a private show. But she insisted that she wanted to feel the response of the crowd and we were all overwhelmed by the audience’s reaction. For Nakka mukka song everyone including the girls were dancing and whistling. Not only for this number, but all the songs received similar reaction. The crowd was at a frenzy enjoying themselves. Akka was very happy. In fact I was a bit nervous watching the movie with her as she is a big star who has proved herself and was worried about her response.

Who taught you the movements in ‘Thozhiyai Kaadaliyai’ song?

Yasin master choreographed the song. But the montage bits were the director’s idea. I just did what was told to me.

"Nakka Mukka was Vijay Antony’s magic and you can create magic only once"

Will your next film have a Nakka Mukka-type number?

I believe in giving what the audience wants. One song may not help a film’s success. If the story is not good, audience will reject it right away. Ok... the song is nice. Now what after the song? As an audience, I expect my three hours of film watching worthy of every penny that I spend. Nakka Mukka was Vijay Antony’s magic and you can create magic only once. I cannot call a music director and tell him to score music like Nakka Mukka. He will have his special talent and he will bring that out. It is nice that Nakka Mukka is a trendsetter and I feel good to hear that it is the anthem of the youth.

On carrying Sunaina along the track

Actually that morning we finished the TTR shoot and traveled the entire day to reach Coimbatore station and we finished the fight sequence there. It was a very hectic day. I did not get a break and it was the first time in my life that I was working so hard, three days shooting at a stretch. Lifting Sunaina and running was of course difficult. But Prasad sir had prepared me saying that it was a strong character and I require a lot of stamina. My beach running, gymming and diet really helped me. Sunaina was not heavy but the wheel chair was. More than me, I feel Sunaina bore the brunt because when I was carrying her and running, her stomach will fall on my shoulders and every time the shock was more for the girl and I feel she really did the scene well without showing the pain on her face.

"Lifting Sunaina and running was difficult"

Performing with Livingston

First day of my shoot with Livingston sir was at the residence of TTR in Ooty. I was nervous as I had lengthy dialogues with him. Livingston is a director, music director and actor and has acted with my sister too. I was nervous. So I straight away went to him and asked him to help me out. He is a very gentle person and an experienced actor. He gave me a lot of tips and encouraged me. It was a great experience working with him.

"Audience satisfaction is important"

Plans to retain success

When I was doing Kaadhalil Vizhundein, I was constantly in fear that anytime I may be thrown out. Even now, I dread that if I don’t deliver goods, I will not be here. I want to make my producer, director and audience happy. That is my main thought. When I am doing a film, I want to concentrate on that. That’s all.

Will you act in your sister’s production?

Business and personal relationships are different. However if my akka approaches me, I will definitely say yes. Script is what is important to me not the producer.

What kind of roles would you like to play?

Right now, I am a director’s actor and whatever he says, I will do. Of course scripts play a major role and I listen to a lot of scripts.

Future Projects

My next film is Masilamani under the production of A G S Entertainment and the director is Manohar who was K S Ravikumar’s assistant. Manohar is a new director and I am also a new face. Sunaina will again be my heroine.

Your character in Masilamani?

In Kaadhalil Vizhundein, I was something like an animal that suffers so much in life, faces a lot of trials and tribulations. He is a fighter. In Masilamani, you will see Nakul in a different character. (chuckles) It may be clichéd to say ‘different’ but for me it is a different character. Very soft, bubbly and cheerful. I am hopeful that everyone will love my character.

Criticisms

I am open to criticism. In fact I have sharp ears for remarks which are aimed at me. If someone throws a brick at me, I don’t want to get agitated and throw it back at them. Instead I want to collect all those bricks and make a palace out of it. Criticisms are important for growth. That’s how I view them. I want to use them to hone and perfect my skills.

"Criticisms are important for growth"

"I like all of Ajith’s films"

Your favorite actors

Ajith and Vikram. I like their personality. Their on screen and off screen personalities are totally different. They are very pious, down-to-earth and very friendly in real life.
I would like to be like them. Not on a star level, that’s too far away for me. But as a person, I would like to model myself on them. I like Vikram sir’s Dhool very much. I like all of Ajith’s films.

Favorite actresses

Simran and of course my akka. In the newcomers list, I like them all.

On films

Previously I used to see films and criticize mindlessly. But now, after having seen the rigors of film making, I am able to appreciate everything about cinema. I respect the hard work, the team work, the dedication that goes into the making of a film. A three hour film is a result of commitment and toil of so many people.

Tamil cinema in a world arena

People here are trying new ideas and are broadening their horizons. The trend is very positive and film makers are attempting to tread on unchartered areas now. Success of Subramaniapuram, Jeyamkondan and Kaadhalil Vizhundein is encouraging. There is a collaboration of Ochre studios with Warner brothers. Adlabs has also come on the scene. The trend is definitely promising and hopeful.

On your good comedy timing

I like to watch comedy films and I am willing to do such roles. As of now, I will do whatever the director says. Kaadhalil Vizhunden is a serious film which did not give much accent on comedy. I was not able to explore much on the comedy aspect. But I would definitely like to do such roles. I want the audience to feel happy when they leave the theatre. The money that they spend on watching films should not go waste. Audience satisfaction is important.

Interviewers: Inian, Annadurai, Pradeep

Camera: Ganesh Babu

Text: Jyothsna

Director Kalaprabhu Director Selva Srikanth Director Balaji Sakthivel Tamanna Priya Mani
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