Suriya is super-excited about his upcoming Thaanaa Serndha Koottam, a remake of Bollywood heist thriller Special 26. The 42-year-old actor explains that the idea was to capture the core idea of the original, but try and make a new product. “We have retained just two-three scenes from Special 26. This is a completely different film, and director Vignesh Shivn was inspired more by the essence of the original than the whole story,” he says. Changes have even been made to the characters themselves. For example, the character played by Anupam Kher is played by a woman, Ramya Krishna, in this film. The story of Thaanaa Serndha Koottam is based on an 1987 Opera House heist which is thought of as being among the greatest Indian robberies. “The film also touches upon the issue of unemployment, which was a common sight in the 80s,” explains Suriya.
Suriya, who’s done two Singam films in the last four years, admits that part of why he decided to do this film is to try and come out of an ‘image trap’. “Of late, I have been playing a lot of intense roles and haven’t got the opportunity to play an entertaining character like Satya,” he says. “When Vignesh came for the narration, we went to a roadside stall and had tea. He asked me when I had last drank tea at such a stall, and explained that my role in Thaanaa Serndha Koottam would begin in a similar setting. It reminded me that I hadn’t done something like that for a long time and I also thought of my school days when I used to travel in buses. In a way, the film has helped me reconnect with my roots and who I really am.”
The actor expresses a lot of happiness at having worked with Vignesh. “He is a multi-faceted talent, and has a different approach to direction. His working style is totally different from other directors’. It was mainly because of him that my character buzzes with a lot of freshness,” he explains.
The film also marks the first time Suriya has dubbed in Telugu. His films have traditionally done well there. “I have dubbed completely for my role in the film’s Telugu version, Gang. Usually, it takes eight days for me to complete the dubbing work in Tamil, but for the Telugu version, I managed to do it in only six days. I thank writer Shashank (Vennelakanti) for that.” On what made him go the extra mile this time, he says, “Many of the characters I have previously played were intense and such roles required that my words explode with that mood. Srinivas Murthy dubbed for me in those films, as I wasn’t yet familiar with the language,” he says. “The role in this film though made it quite easy for me to say my lines. Many were doubtful and thought it a risk. That’s why we tested my voice with the teaser and when that was received well, I decided to dub. There may be a hint of Tamil in the way I talk, but I’m happy with my effort. I’m still learning the language and I promise to get better with my future projects.”
Given that the film touches upon serious issues, our conversation veers into that territory too. With actors like Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan announcing their entry into politics, Suriya is convinced that a political revolution is brewing in Tamil Nadu. “The political dynamics in the State may undergo a sea change. I’m eagerly waiting to see how things unfold. Rajini and Kamal are two different personalities and have their unique approach. Both have set the bar high and are admired by many. Over the years, we have seen many actors turning politicians. I see nothing wrong in that as long as actors have the focus and time necessary for day-to-day political engagements,” says Suriya. He adds that he’s not too inclined towards politics himself. “I’m happy to do my bit for society with my Agaram foundation.”