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Interview Team : Jyothsna

Doing diverse roles comes easy to Kaali Venkat who was recently seen as Ashok Selvan’s friend Nambi in Thegidi and minister Pandiarajan’s assistant in Vaayai Moodi Pesavum. In the upcoming Mundasupatti, he will be seen in the entire length of the film as Vishnu’s friend.

In an interesting chat with Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar, Kaali Venkat discusses about his road to Kodambakkam, experiences and his projects.


When did the acting bug bite you?


I am from a village near Kovilpatti. I used to act in dramas from 8th standard. It was the time of Arivoli Iyakkam when plays on social themes were becoming popular. It was during one such play in my village that I realized the energy levels in such live performances.


I was playing a woman character, a mother to a young girl who is in search of a bridegroom. I have seen many street brawls involving women and I had used all those dialogues sans the abusive phrases, in my play which was a big hit with the audience. They were able to relate and slowly, a play that began with 25 odd numbers as audience swelled and it filled the entire space and was getting overcrowded.


The interesting thing was my family was completely against my acting and hence I had to do it without their knowledge. I told my team that if I can make it to the stage without my family’s knowledge, I can manage. Fortunately, I made it and when I went home after the play, my entire family and relatives were at the gate welcoming me. They had also liked the play, my performance and accepted me as a stage artist. It was a pleasant surprise for me.  And in the subsequent years, I acted with their permission. 


The name Kaali Venkat


In 2006, I came to Chennai to try my luck in film industry. Through various contacts and networking I got my first film Dasayinai Theechudinam in 2008 directed by Vijay Prabhakaran. Although my real name is Venkat, my character in the film was called Kaali and everyone in the sets started calling me by that name. That’s how I became Kaali Venkat. 


Vijay Prabhakaran


Till I met director Vijay Prabhakaran, I had a different idea about acting. But it was Vijay Prabhakaran who changed that and mentored me into the aspects of acting. He taught me to execute a role as an actor. A director can write a story, dialogues or screen play, but beyond that, an actor has certain responsibilities on which he educated me.


He told me that one needs to write a back story for every character. For instance, if I play a character aged 25 years, there must be 24 years of life behind this. When I feel this life and enact, there would emerge a true meaning to that role. This is how my uniqueness will come to the fore that will give the character a distinct feel. This really helped me when I went out to perform other roles.


Sadly the film had gotten into a rough patch and was not getting completed. I had grown long mane and a longer beard for my role in the film. But after a while, the director asked me to shed my look for the film and look out for other projects. 

One needs to write a back story for every character


Short films and dubbing


I got Thadayara Thaakka through my friend and while I was working in it, I got an offer to dub for a short film. To my credit, my voice attracted people’s attention and was called to do Mundasupatti short film which had a good reach and I began to be noticed. In the next season, I acted in six short films and I got the best actor of the series in season 3 which was given by Kamal Haasan.     

I got the best actor award from Kamal


Other films


Through short films, I got offers in Kalakalappu, Udhayam NH4 and Villa.




Director Ramesh is known to me and he told me that the role in Thegidi is not for my kind of looks but at the same time, I can take it as a challenge and deliver. And if I do that, the nativity feel on my looks will be lifted and people will start believing that I can do any kind of role. He used to be ultra careful even with the minutest of expressions and I used to wonder why he is extracting so much from me. All the same I just followed his instructions. But when I saw the film I understood his intentions and realized that my character stood out well.

I did what director Ramesh told me, in Thegidi


Feature film Mundasupatti


In the short film Mundasupatti, I did a role called Gopi. In the feature film I have done the role of Azhagumani, assistant to Gopi which is played by Vishnu (in the feature film). Both our characters can be called non-sync characterization. It can’t be called as close chemistry although we travel together throughout the film. The role was very interesting to play and was a new experience. 


Your role in Mundasupatti


My role will travel the entire length of the film. I will be there in love portions also but outside! In villages, there is something called ‘aal paakkara velai’ which basically means an informer. My character would be something like that. I had a challenge to bring in the difference between the character Gopi in the short film and Azhagumani in the feature film.  I had to be extra careful to not bring in any similarity between Gopi and Azhagumani. 

I did Aal Paakkara Velai in Mundasupatti


Shooting experience in Mundasupatti


The shooting schedule was very tight in Mundasupatti. One cannot sit on the ground wearing the costumes of the 80s. And there were many scenes wherein I had to sit down on the floor and eat. It was almost like a fight scene for me.


A studio portion of 10X6 was set up wherein we had to shoot in the interior with three of us – me, Vishnu and Munishkanth. There were powerful lights and there was absolutely no air inside. Two minutes inside and you start pouring in sweat.


Munishkanth character is very interesting and you can’t help laughing in his scenes. Vishnu and I could not control our laughter at all. It was a big challenge to not laugh and work.


Nanditha has done an excellent job in the film. She has completely imbibed her character and has delivered really well.


Vishnu is very sincere and his timing senses are very sharp.


Vaayai Moodi Pesavum


Vaayai Moodi Pesavum was a sudden entry. I shot for six to seven days at Moonar and had a good experience. While shooting, to bring me on equal height with Pandiarajan, they had put apple box for me. Pandiarajan was quite happy and said that in his career, this was the 1st time that an apple box was put for someone who is acting with him. He did not have any airs despite being an experienced artist and put me to ease.  I feel that I have also been credited for his performance in the film. He accepted me as a co-artist immediately. 

Vaayai Moodi Pesavum was a sudden entry

Vijay Sethupathi connection


I know Vijay Sethupathi through a few mutual friends. His attempts in the film industry were quite sharp, focused and to the point.  He had a clear cut vision about his stint in the industry and moved along those lines only. What is very interesting is that Vijay Sethupathi has not changed one bit. Success has not done anything to him and he remains the same person that I saw many years back. I want to be like him. 

Vijay Sethupathi has not changed one bit


Current projects


Kaathadi where I will be seen in opening, interval block and climax sequence. I am also doing Urumeen and Vijay Anthony’s India Pakistan. In Eetti, I am doing a cameo. 


What kind of characters you want to take up?


Once again, Vijay Prabhakaran only comes to my aid. He would always say that we have to give it all to the demands of the character. I should not become a comedian but instead if there is comedy in the character, I have to bring that out. This is what he would advise.


I am not sure if I can do negative roles. But I feel I can combine both comedy and character roles. My inspirations in this segment are Nasser and Cochin Hanifa.


In the current times, the life of a comedian is very short. My aim is to stay on in the industry and keep acting. I want to be in a circle that will not reject me for a long time and I would like to try variety of roles.  

My inspirations are Nasser and Cochin Hanifa



Any challenging role


Kaali in Dasayinai Theechudinam was quite challenging as I had to internally act in it. I had to perform within a specific area marked by the director. That was a well measured role.


I would like to be a director’s artist because with every director, we bring in a new dimension to our performance. If I satisfy a director, I would be satisfying the audience.

If I satisfy a director, I would be satisfying the audience


As a performer, what are your strengths?


People feel that I am natural. They also say that it does not appear as though I am acting. I feel that it is my strength. 


Support from family and friends


For people in the creative field, it is very important that their family is supportive of their ventures. And luckily I have that support from my family. And I have a huge battalion of friends who are supportive of me. I have to thank them too. 


Wishing Kaali Venkat all the best and success in his endeavors!






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