Arvind Swamy, the poster boy of the 90s who forayed into film industry with Mani Ratnam’s Thalapathi, has made a mark for himself in the field with meaningful films and roles. He will be seen in an all new avatar in Mohan Raja’s Thani Oruvan. Ahead of the films’ release, Jyothsna Bhavanishankar catches up with the actor on Thani Oruvan, his role in the film, Mani Ratnam, his cinematic journey and many more.

Working with Mani Ratnam is like going home to me

It was actually liberating to play someone evil

I have a feeling that Jayam Ravi and I will be friends for life.

You are known to be very choosy with your films. What made you accept Thani Oruvan?

The role is the first reason. The passion with which director Raja has created this role was a motivating factor. He also gave me ample space to make it my own and so did Ravi. I always wanted to play an unapologetic bad guy and it was possible to do that in this movie.

The teaser reveals a totally different you, a cold kind of person. Can you talk about your role in the film?

He is an evil person. He is cunning, manipulative, extremely intelligent and a go getter. I have tried to play it without any melodrama, almost cold.

On a similar line with the previous question, how was it to enact a character with villainy? Were there challenges? Was there any actors’ work that you took as inspiration to do this role?

I didn't take inspiration from anyone. It was actually liberating to play someone evil. I had such a great time playing this role. I could do as I pleased, within the framework of the script, of course. I have tried to add layers but at the same time, keep it subtle. My aim is for you to love the bad guy. We will know on Friday if I succeeded!

Do you think audience would accept you as a villain?

I am not the villain in that sense. But if your question is that will they accept me as a bad guy, I sincerely hope they do. The response to the trailer and the promo song has been fantastic! I hope they like me in the movie as well.

Can you talk about your co-stars Jayam Ravi, Nayanthara and Ganesh Venkatraman in Thani Oruvan?

It was a pleasure to work with all of them. I don't have many scenes with Nayan or Ganesh. Ravi and I encouraged each other through the film to bring out the best of both the characters. We discussed choices that actors individually make and it was such a nice, generous environment to work with him. I have a feeling that we will be friends for life.

Your working equation with Jayam Raja

Debates, arguments, approvals, rejections - all in the creative process of bringing the best out of this character and the film. We have a lot of mutual respect and we worked cerebrally to create this complex character in the film. Raja is a very passionate filmmaker.

You had recently mentioned in an interview that you always want to be featured in Mani Ratnam’s film. Are you there in his next?

I don't think so. I want to work with him always. It's like going home for me. That's what I meant.

On a different note, when Kadal was met with a lukewarm response, how did you feel?

I felt disappointed. Not for me but for Mani. But we need to respect what the audience feels, we learn and move on.

What are the other projects that you are involved with now?

I have finished a Hindi film called Dear Dad. It is a path-breaking subject and a story that needs to be told. I am waiting for the post production to get done. I am now back at my office and working on a few applications that I am designing for Talent Maximus. I will do that till the end of the year and start a Tamil project in January.

Your take on your cinematic journey that began in 1991 with Thalapathy and still continues.

A fantastic experience on my terms, mostly.

Looking back, which are your favorite films?

Roja, Bombay, Devaragam, Pudhayal, Thani Oruvan. But the rest are special too.

From the current crop, who appears promising to you? All of them are so talented. And more are coming. The future is promising, as it should be.