Good films often find a way to reach discerning audience. Mari Selvaraj’s debut film Pariyerum Perumal, which released on Friday, is creating waves, and a lot of theatres are now increasing the number of shows for the film produced by Pa Ranjith’s Neelam Productions.
Playing a titular role for the first time in his career, Kathir is gaining plaudits for his performance in the film. Calling Pariyerum Perumal a huge leap in his film career, the actor talks about the film and how he’s planning his future projects.
Excerpts from the conversation:
Mari Selvaraj mentioned that the performances of the actors improved after he explained why this film needed to be released. What did he say to you?
Pariyerum Perumal is based on a true story. The director spoke about the emotions that the real-life character would have faced when he underwent the things we have shown in the film. He explained about the love between my character and Anandhi’s character. It was a beautiful confusion between love and friendship — a soulful representation of love.
Talking about love, how was it working with Karuppi in the film?
Karuppi was the dog of director Mari Selvaraj’s brother. The scenes with her were shot keeping in mind her comfort. After a point, Karuppi became like my own dog. This familiarity was important, especially because she is a hunting dog and was pretty aggressive. But she’s an intelligent animal. After few days of shoot, Karuppi started to recognise calls of ‘Action’ and ‘Cut’ and react accordingly.
The makers constantly refer to Karuppi as a metaphor...
Even for the real-life Pariyan, his biggest love was Karuppi. There is something unique in the way we treat our dogs. We play with them even without knowing if they are in the mood for it. And at times when they want to be with us, we tie them outside. So, parallels are drawn between our behaviour towards dogs and our behaviour towards fellow human beings.
What would you say constitutes a ‘Kathir film’?
For me, script is the first hero. I want to make my own path. I feel very answerable to the people who ask ‘Why I should watch a Kathir film?’ That is why I have done very few films. There is a line between 100 per cent masala films and offbeat cinema. I wish to travel on that fine line.
How important is commercial success for you?
I only seek commercial success, so I can do the films I want to do. I need a certain budget to do such films and that’s why success is important. I also want to try all kinds of films in my career, with a preference for more realistic cinema, without compromising on commercial aspects. I want my films to be a complete package.
How did you decide to do a cameo in Vikram Vedha, after primarily playing solo leads up till that point?
It was a tough decision, but the people involved in the film made it easier. Pushkar-Gayathri were one of my earliest well-wishers in the industry. Till date, I talk to them before confirming any project. Then Sethu anna (Vijay Sethupathi) said, ‘I am not sure how big this film will be for you, but I can assure you it won’t have negative impact’. I felt acting in a cameo was okay as long as the character is indispensable in the film, and so finally, made my choice. I learnt a lot working alongside Madhavan sir, Sethu anna and others.
You seem to often end up playing characters who die...
While doing Madha Yaanai Kootam, I didn’t know anything about cinema and only saw it as an opportunity. However, I have now decided to stay away from films which show my character dying -- at least for a while. But if the death of my character leaves a lasting impact, then I am ready to do such roles.
Violence, too, seems to be a recurrent theme in all your films.
Some sort of violence or crime is the focal point in most of our films. If everyone is happy, there is no space for making it interesting. You need some sort of conflict in a film.
How well were you able to relate to the type of cinema Pa Ranjith is known for?
Pariyerum Perumal is all about equality. It doesn’t talk politics or preach. There are social messages embedded in this film, but if someone only wants to watch it as pure entertainment with sentiment, action and comedy, the film will work for them too. There are no messages that are force-fed. However, I believe that the audience will understand where the film comes from.