He has an uncanny ability to slip into the skin of any character. He can make you roar in laughter or bring a lump in your throat. He’s one of those actors, who can make an impact even in a cameo. Who can forget his nakkal, lollu, nayyandi and famous punch lines – Ennama Kannu sowkiyama, En characterae purinjuka maatengara, Thagudu Thagudu?
Be it the role of a villain, police officer, mentor, dad or MLA, none can match his inimitable style. His performances in Amaidhipadai, Nooravadhu Naal, Kadalora Kavithaigal, Nanban, Raja Rani and Chennai Express are standing testimonies to his acting skills.
City Express catches up with the versatile actor to find out what keeps him on his toes.
You have done many roles that portray you as a dad, in the recent times. How do you feel being the sought-after onscreen dad?
I am ‘daddy cool’ for the new generation directors. I am happy that they are showing me in a different light. In fact, I feel young when I am working with newcomers. There have been instances where I have learnt from them. Some of the newcomers are quite promising and dynamic. To keep myself on par with them, I constantly update myself with high-end technology. Thanks to Sibi, he has taught me how to use Android software and WhatsApp. (Smiles)
How has been the transition like — from that of a hero to a supporting character?
In 2009, I decided to quit acting. This was the time I had gone to Ooty for three months when some of my films didn’t work out. A Tamil story which I read then changed my mind and I started doing films of different genres again. I take life as it comes, but the transition hasn’t been easy for a person like me, who has been a hero in 125 films. In these 36 years, I’ve done a variety of roles. Amitabh Bachchan is the biggest inspiration in this regard and I have started liking what I am doing. To be frank, I am not busy. I am considerably free these days and enjoying my life to the fullest.
How active are you on social media?
I am not on Facebook and Twitter, but don’t you think when you become popular, fans take care of everything? (Laughs)
Not many know that you have directed Villadhi Villain in 1995. Is direction on the cards again?
Direction isn’t an easy job and I didn’t realise that until I did this movie. I lost the chance of being a hero in five to six films when I was working on it. When there are a lot more equipped directors who can bring out the best actor in me, it’s wise to be content with what I am good at. (Smiles)
How do you see failure and success?
I admit I made mistakes in the past while choosing films. But to break any stereotype, you should experiment and that’s what I did! After all, it’s all in the learning.
What’s your dream role?
I am at ease with all kinds of roles but I would love to do a full-on historical subject like MGR’s Aayirathil Oruvan.
Sigaram Thodu with Vikram Prabhu, Isai with SJ Suriya, Poojai with Vishal, Yezhu Kadal Thaandi with Bharath and Muriyadi, Kalavadiya Pozhudhugal and Baahubali in Telugu, which is Mahabali in Tamil.
One director whom you would love to work with?
If Manivannan comes alive, I would do a film with him. He was one of the persons whom I always looked up to.