I don’t fall on another man’s feet; I don’t do item numbers: Ameer

With Mounam Pesiyadhe, Raam, and Paruthiveeran, director Ameer changed the respective fortunes of their heroes (Suriya, Jiiva and Karthi respectively).

Published: 17th October 2018 05:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 17th October 2018 05:28 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

With Mounam Pesiyadhe, Raam, and Paruthiveeran, director Ameer changed the respective fortunes of their heroes (Suriya, Jiiva and Karthi respectively). At a time when people expected him to continue this golden streak, he made a surprise acting turn with Yogi. Apart from two cameos since, the actor in Ameer went on a long sabbatical, and now, he’s again resurfaced with a pivotal role in director Vetrimaaran’s Vada Chennai.

Excerpts from the interview:

The Turn
“I didn’t want to become an actor. If I did, Paruthiveeran would have been my star turn. A couple of my close friends, who heard the story, told me to take on the lead role. I was firm in just directing though, as there’s a special joy in it. The fallout from Paruthiveeran meant that I played an actor in Yogi. I got several opportunities after that, but didn’t take them up as I got involved in many things (FEFSI union elections, Eelam etc). It compromised both my acting and directing, and life just was moving at a snail’s pace.”

The Respect
“During this period, I came in contact with director Vetrimaaran’s work. In Aadukalam, before the title card, he thanked Paruthiveeran for inspiring his film. I liked that honesty. Whatever awards I couldn’t win for Paruthiveeran, he won for Aadukalam (close to six awards) and that increased my respect for him. Finally, when I watched Visaaranai, he went right to the top of the list of people I admire. When he approached me for playing Rajan, I said yes.”

The Demand
“When Vetri first asked me to play the role, I said yes, but that I had two conditions, nay requests. One, that I wouldn’t ever fall down on another man’s feet, even if it is acting. The second, that I wouldn’t do intimate scenes. This request was because of the item number I did in Yuddham Sei. Even today, if that song comes on TV, we don’t watch it. My daughter,  in Class 6 back then, told me that if I ever acted in such a scene again, she would stop going to school. It was a lesson.”

The Shock
“I learned that Vijay Sethupathi was supposed to do my role. Then I heard that Rana Daggubati and STR were also considered for it. I was the only person who was entering the shooting spot 30 days after it had been going on. It took two-three days for me to adjust, but once I did, I felt reassured of Vetrimaaran’s choice in me. He told me that when he conceived the story with Sethupathi, the role was for only about 20 minutes. But once he started to shoot with me, the edited footage came up to 55 minutes. I expect the final cut to be around 30 minutes.”

The Method
“My character, Rajan, is someone who fights for his community and his character has negative shades. You have seen similar characters in Nayagan, Godfather, and RGV’s Sathya; so it is not necessarily a new character. Acting to me is what I teach my actors when I am directing. If possible, think of everyone else as fools and you as the only intelligent being there and perform with that confidence.”

The Romance
“I was hesitant to act with Andrea but didn’t show it. She is taller, fairer, and more fluent in English, but she showed no airs. I haven’t even told her but I think she is the most comfortable artiste I have ever worked with. I wasn’t comfortable with the intimate scene, but we cheated, and thanks to filmmaking tricks, we shot it. Even on Sunday, I was asking Vetri if it was okay to remove four to six frames. He told this to Andrea, who laughed at how even she hadn’t asked for any cuts.”

The Message
“The world’s civilisations started on riverbanks and coastal banks. Vada Chennai starts at the coast and is the story of people who have two jobs: Fishing and ‘rendaam number thozhil’. We have weaved in a message of how these people, born and brought up here, have been evicted over a period of time.”

The Learning
“Shooting a boat scene wasn’t new to me. I was part of a scene in Nandha when Bala, me and Laila were the only ones who weren’t seasick/vomiting. But talking Madras dialect was new for me. I don’t know anything else other than Madurai Tamizh.”

The Future
“After Paruthiveeran, if I had wanted to, I could have made five village films at least. There have been close to a 100 films including Kadaikutty Singam, based on that theme. I didn’t want to do one and get the sort of rural image Bharathiraaja had. So I took up Aadhi Bhagavan (which was shot abroad). I am currently doing Santhana Devan, a village film; Achamillai Achamillai with my assistant, which is a story set in Tirupur; and Peranbu Konda Periyorgale, a political satire. But I am most excited about making a roadtrip film before Santhana Devan with fresh faces. I am really looking forward to seeing how I do it and how the audiences take to it.”

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