Arulnithi’s choice of scripts do not always fit into what is conventionally expected of heroes in Tamil cinema. The actor says he gets attracted to unusual themes and ideas. He admits that he feels compelled to experiment with his projects.
His previous films, including Mouna Guru, Demonte Colony and Aarathu Sinam, bear testimony to this. “I guess I have a peculiar taste when it comes to films,” he laughs.
Awaiting the release of Radha Mohan’s Brindavanam, Arulnithi is currently shooting for Iravukku Aayiram Kangal, a crime-thriller.
“In Brindavanam, I play the role of a barber who cannot speak or hear. The character is an ardent fan of actor Vivekh. The film revolves around the relationship between the star (Vivekh) and the fan. How my life changes when I meet him forms the rest of the story. It’s an emotional drama that will definitely make you laugh and cry. The director has moulded a new personality out of me for this role.”
What made him accept Brindavanam? “I thought it would be interesting to portray emotions on screen without using words. This is a big departure from the characters I have previously played and the experience was overwhelming. I had to focus completely on my body language. It was a huge challenge,” he says.
The actor had to do plenty of research, including undergoing training in sign language. “I had a teacher called Vijaya Bhaskar who helped me learn everything quickly. She’s a news reader on a popular television channel. Apart from this training, I made sure I did exactly what Radha Mohan asked of me. He knows exactly what I am good at,” he says.
Writing a character who communicates with sign language isn’t new for Radha Mohan. “He did that in Mozhi. Playing this character was a kind of self-discovery for me.”
Ask him about Vivekh and his face lights up. “He is a legend in his own right. He loves spontaneity and I was totally in awe of him. On the sets, we bonded like family. It was very educative to watch him improvise his shots,” he says.
Arulnithi strongly believes that “even a usual story can be told in an interesting manner”, and adds that he would love to portray “characters that sound real and believable.”
Will we get to see him do another Vamsam? “I don’t want to repeat my roles. I’m very careful about that. Just because a film was successful, I don’t want to accept similar roles that come my way. But yes, I do love Pandiraj sir’s films. It was he who gave me the confidence that even small projects can work.”
He says he will team up with Radha Mohan again, after finishing work on Iravukku Aayiram Kangal. “If the director is somebody that I’ve previously worked with, it’s an advantage. They know what I can do and I know what they want.”