Arulnithi doesn’t feel any pressure to do too many films at once. “I was comfortable doing a film a year. Now, I’ve decided to do two every year,” he smiles. The actor, who’s gearing up for the release of Iravukku Aayiram Kangal, tells us, “It’s a crime thriller, and will be about incidents that happen in a single day. There are ten main characters the film revolves around, and every role has been written to contribute something meaningful to the story.”
He cites Ajmal’s role as an example. “You need to watch the film to know if he plays a villain or not. Though it’s a multi-starrer, the director (Mu Maran) has beautifully balanced all our characters.”
Arulnithi believes that his strength is in visualising scenes during narration. “I play a taxi driver in this film. Every time you think something predictable would happen, the director surprises you. When I heard the narration a second time, I knew I wanted to do Iravukku...,” he says.
I ask him the name of his character, and he pauses briefly before saying, “Bharath!” He clarifies: “I was about to say Pugazhendhi, but then realised that’s my role in Karu Palaniappan’s film,” he laughs.
He calls himself a director’s actor. “Films are a director’s medium. For Iravukku..., I was asked to be subtle and not loud like I was in Brindavanam. They are different films and naturally demand different treatment,” he says.
He shot for 42 days in and around Chennai, and found the night shoots to be stressful. “But I can’t complain because I love what I do. I keep thinking about my role all the time —how to present it in a believable way to the audience. I also had to shoot in the rain. It was an interesting experience; I had previously done it for Demonte Colony and Aarathu Sinam,” he recalls.
He assures that everything about the film will be realistic, be it the fight sequences or the way songs have been conceived. He turns poetic when summarising the film in a line: “Pagalil maraikkappadum kuttram iravin kangalil irundhu thappuvadhillai.”
Arulnithi feels he has evolved as an artiste through the years. “Iravukku... is my 10th film in eight years. As you can see, I pick scripts quite judiciously. I know what films work for me, and don’t. I don’t listen to the script as a hero. For instance, at least 20-30 people heard the script of Demonte Colony along with me. I usually take my close friends and well-wishers to the narration. That has helped me understand what the audience looks for in a film.”
I ask what kind of films he wants to be doing ten years from now. “Odara padangal,” he laughs. Talking about his next, a political satire, Pugazhendhi Enum Naan, he says, “The film has a lot of self-effacing humour,” but is quick to clarify that “it has nothing to do with any political party.” He adds, “I am already worried what journalists will ask me during promotions!”