He always nursed an ambition to act in movies but didn’t know how to go about it. Moving from Kudaiyadevanpatti village to Chennai, to nurture his dream, he tried every possible job, before hitting the jackpot. Finally luck smiled on him with recent films like Thegidi and Vaayai Moodi Pesavum (VMP), bringing him instant recognition with the masses. Now, with 10 films under his belt, it looks like actor Kaali has finally found the niche he’s been looking for. In a chat with CE, he delves into his journey and reveals his future line-up of movies.
“I was always interested in drama and would act in school plays in my village,” recalls Kaali. One fine day, the acting bug bit him so hard that he set off for Chennai to enter the industry, in 1997. Only, he didn’t know how to go about it or whom to contact. “I did everything possible from selling groceries to working in a tea shop, in order to survive. My family was my big support. Finally I met my guru, director Vijay Prabakaran, who coached me and taught me everything I know about cinema today,” says Kaali.
He even debuted as an actor in Prabakaran’s movie, Thasaiyinai Thee Sudinum in 2008, which unfortunately hasn’t released yet. But he did get one thing out of it, “My real name is Venkat. In the film, my character’s name was Kaali. Though the film didn’t release, that name stuck and I decided to keep my screen name as Kaali.”
A spate of short films later, Kaali bagged the Best Actor in a Series Award in Season 3 of the Naalaya Iyyakunar show on TV. “Kamal Hassan and K Balachander came to the function, and that was a big thing for an aspiring actor like me,” grins Kaali.
After a series of small roles in various feature films, he got a big break with Thadaiyara Thakka and went on to be noticed in films like NH4, Vizha, Pizza 2, Thegidi and Kerala Nattilam Pengaludane.
The recent VMP, where he plays the assistant of a minister, has brought him much accolades. “Acting with veteran Pandirajan in VMP was a learning experience. I was very nervous but he put me totally at ease and so the comedy in our scenes worked wonderfully thanks to him,” he says.
Kaali’s current line up of films include Mundasupatti, Poovarasam Pipi and KathaiSolla Porom. Under production are films like Urumeen and Kaathadi.
About Mundasupatti he says, “I play an assistant photographer called Azhagasami in this comedy.The toughtest part was wearing the tight 80’s style pants! I was so conscious all through the shoot.”
“Life has changed considerably post his recent releases this year. Earlier, when I went to multiplexes, the security would frisk me like anyone else. But now they recognise me and usher me in without checking. People also pose for photos with me now,” says Kaali. The biggest surprise came his way on social media, “Before Thegidi, I had only 900 friends on Facebook. But after the release, the requests hit 5,000 and kept pouring in! That was a moment I’ll cherish forever!” he signs off.