I can’t act,” laughs Udhayanidhi Stalin as he gets chatting. The actor-producer, who hails from a renowned political family (he’s the grandson of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief Dr M Karunanidhi, and the son of DMK’s heir apparent M K Stalin), got into the Tamil film industry as a producer and is, today, a successful actor as well.
“I have a boy-next-door look so I choose scripts that suit me. Comedy also works for me and the chemistry I share with Santhanam comes out well on screen,” he admits. Right from his first film Oru Kal Oru Kannadi (OKOK), Santhanam has been his constant companion on screen. Currently, Udhayanidhi is producing the action film Gethu directed by Thirukumaran and Idhayam Murali, a romantic comedy, by Ahmed in which he plays the hero. Can he carry off a film without Santhanam to lean on? Udhayanidhi confidently says, “Yes! In Nanbenda, there are comedy scenes where it’s just about me and how I deliver the lines. I have been appreciated for those scenes. In fact, Santhanam isn’t part of Gethu.”
Now that he’s a hero in Kollywood, is he now competition to other actors? “Of course not,” Udhayanidhi laughs. Ask him if he always wanted to be an actor and he explains, “I knew I wanted to be involved in films since I was a kid and that’s how I got into production. I had no intention of becoming an actor. My production company, Red Giant Movies, had acquired the distribution rights to Boss Engira Baskaran and I became close to Santhanam, Arya and director Rajesh. Rajesh convinced me to turn hero and OKOK happened.”
As soon as Udhayanidhi announced that he would take the giant leap, his friends actors Arya and Vishal gave him advice on what skills (like dancing and fighting) he needed to work on. Tell him he has improved in his dialogue delivery, acting and dancing from his first film to Nanbenda and he says, “Dubbing is still a challenge. Do you know it took me one-and-a-half months to dub for Nanbenda? Other heroes take two to three days!”
So far he Udhayanidhi has starred in two films each with Nayanthara and Hansika. Why isn’t he signing on other actresses? Udhayanidhi laughs and says, “Now I’m doing a film now with Amy Jackson. I’m sure I’ll get the opportunity to act with all actresses but she has to suit the story.”
Though the actor-producer gets movie offers from other producers, he hasn’t given the nod to any of them. “I prefer to produce and act in my own films as I feel more comfortable,” he says, adding he’s not producing any films with other actors as well, at the moment. As for his films, one of the battles he has been fighting in the state is against the denial of entertainment tax exemption despite a film being awarded a U certificate by the Censor Board.
With his strong political background and the fact that films have always been a route to politics in Tamil Nadu, the question of whether Udhayanidhi will get into politics lingers in everyone’s mind. “I have no plans of getting into politics now. I want to be a good producer and a good, saleable actor,” he says.