Stand-up comedian Karthik Kumar’s post on Facebook titled ‘Confessions of a failed actor’ has been getting a lot of attention on social media. After doing films like Yaaradi Nee Mohini (2008), Veppam (2011), Pasanga 2 (2015) and so on, the actor has announced that it’s ‘time to hang those boots for good’.
Admitting that he ‘sold himself short’, he mentioned that many actors with a theatre background are underpaid and not being treated as equals. When we got in touch with the Evam co-founder, and asked if he would reconsider his decision, he said though he got five good roles in 48 hours after putting out the post, he’s not taking up any of them. “I need to change a lot in myself. May time take its course,” he added. City Express speaks to fellow theatre artistes about Karthik’s decision and here’s what they have to say.
I refuse to comment on Karthik Kumar’s post. I don’t know what he has been put through personally. But, to me, it’s the exact opposite. Whatever I am today is because of theatre. It got me my first film Dharma Durai, and I am still getting many offers. People in the industry respect me because I am a theatre artist. Three generations of my family have been successful — my grandfather, my father and I.
When I made it to cinema from the theatre background, it was a bit difficult. But I remained patient and determined that I need to work hard and I did. I never gave up in between. Whatever I am today, I owe it to theatre. That’s where I started my career and have gained all the acting skills and experience. In terms of people and method of working, the whole approach is professional, while earlier it was marked by passion and hard work. Take legendary actors like MR Radha for instance, he rose to stardom with stage plays. In fact, being a theatre artiste, has always been a big plus, in my case.
The struggle is there irrespective of whether you have a background in theatre or not. The stage has been my priority and I came to films by accident. But I am happy with the offers I’ve been getting in Tamil cinema. I never got singled out because I am a theatre guy! A lot of people have gone through struggles like he has mentioned.What doesn’t resonate with me is the generalisation. A person can only speak for himself, but not for the whole community. In fact, Pasupathi and Nasser are from the theatre background. They’re doing extremely well in films. Whatever the case is, returns would be based on how much you want to invest — in terms of time, networking, socialising, etc. Also, I am not into cinema to make money. If I get a chance to share screen space with Vikram or Vijay, I’d take it up.
Of course, we’re underpaid and haven’t been getting the kinds of roles we’re capable of doing.
Lakshmi Priyaa Chandramouli
For somebody who doesn’t have a lineage from the industry, the entry is going to be tough, no matter what. The relationship between theatre and cinema has been a mutual co-existence. Veteran personalities — be it directors or actors in cinema, from the likes of KB sir and others have come from a theatre background.
The recent past too has seen many theatre actors making their presence felt in cinema. For any actor, theatre only adds value. It can never be a minus. Theatre artistes are raw and passionate at heart and we do anything for the craft. When the focus is on that, we tend to miss out on the economics or the business part of cinema. I know many brilliant people who ace in theatre but haven’t made it big in cinema. It’s quite unfortunate. But there could be various reasons...perhaps lack of promoting/marketing themselves, etc.
Karthik Kumar has written about what happened to him and I found the post genuine. Of late, many theatre artistes are doing more number of films, which is a welcoming change. Acting background does help us perform better, and that’s why filmmakers give us a priority. Take Manikandan’s Kuttrame Thandanai and Aandavan Kattalai for example.
He has roped in many theatre artistes including me, Pooja Devariya, Hareesh Peradi, Vinodhini and Vidharth in his films. Also, for casting reasons, filmmakers come to us. It’s easy to get our dates as we’re considerably available, eager to work and prove ourselves. In terms of cinema, I have hardly faced any difficulties. Theatre artistes are used to mouthing lengthy dialogues and getting into a character’s mind quickly. It’s advantageous both for the actor and the director. Things have really improved over the years and we are quite industry-ready.