For many of his long-term admirers, it’s time to rejoice when Suriya channels his experimenting mode. His last two films, at least—Thaana Serndha Koottam and NGK—show a renewed interest in being part of cinema that doesn’t play strictly to the gallery.
In the city to promote his upcoming film, KV Anand’s Kaappaan, the actor exudes much warmth and enthusiasm as he opens up about the action-drama in which he plays a Special Protection Group (SPG) commando.
The KV Anand habit
“Kaappaan is a project with a big canvas. This comes to me after a long time and I would like to thank Lyca Productions and NV Prasad for putting this film together. It feels good to team up with KV Anand, who is a like a brother to me. He was the cinematographer of my debut film, Nerukku Ner (1997), and I’m thrilled to work with him for the third time in Kaappaan. He likes collecting facts and interesting news articles from India and around the world, with his films usually being inspired by such information. That’s why you will find that beneath the entertainment, his stories also have socio-political commentary.”
Hero or the bad guy?
“Kaappaan’s canvas expands from New Delhi to Kanyakumari, and it’s about what happens in politics, national security and the agriculture sector. I play a commando from the Special Protection Group (SPG), who is deputed to provide security to the Prime Minister and is always ready to take a bullet for him.
Much like commandos who go in disguise to complete a task, I will be seen in different avatars in this film. For a long time, I was not sure whether I am the hero or the bad guy of Kaappaan. I can assure you it’s not a typical hero character. The story is about a top-rung rogue spy, who plots to kill the PM and why he does that. The film is a reflection of what happened for real in our society. Be it the Thoothukudi massacre or the terrorist attack in Kashmir, the story deals with many relevant incidents. The film will be an eye-opener for all of us.”
The shield that guards men
“I spent three days at the National Security Guard (NSG) training centre at Manesar. I interacted with commandos, higher officials and other dignitaries who had closely worked with Prime Ministers of India like Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, and Manmohan Singh, right up to Narendra Modi ji. These people spend about 15 hours at work, and are emotionally attached to their job. The film depicts all these emotions. It was a wonderful experience meeting officials who make crucial decisions that drive the nation. Observing these people has completely changed my perspective of India. In this film, KV Anand has been able to tell a lot of stories from Delhi to South India that affects both officials and the common people. The film has enough thrills and twists to keep the viewers riveted.”
Casting a spell
“Working with Mohanlal sir is a dream come true. He is the greatest actor we have in our country and I have learnt the nuances of acting from his films. I have also taken references from his films like Kireedam and Spadikam among others. Usually, most actors have a fear of the camera, and at times, they struggle to perform in front of it. But even if we put a magnifying lens close to his face, his eyes will never catch the lens. He can make it disappear. We also have Boman Irani, a writer’s delight, and Samuthirakani, who’s known for his unmatched versatility. Sayyeshaa has multiple layers to her character and I also thank Arya for joining the cast at the eleventh hour after Allu Sirish backed out due to other commitments. I really like Arya’s character in this film.”
Films for children
“For a long time, there has been a vacuum for women-oriented and children’s films in our cinema. I saw my kids watching only animated films like The Lion King or the Spider-Man and wondered why they could not watch a Telugu/Tamil film that is child-friendly.
One day, my 12-year-old daughter asked me, “Appa, can I watch your film? Is it age-appropriate?” And I couldn’t give her a straight answer. I know I can’t take them to my films. That is when I made the decision to help create films that will make kids and families happy.”
The NGK debacle
“Selvaraghavan sir took two-and-half years to complete the script of NGK. He arrived with three-four drafts and had three versions of the climax. However, our team believed that what we released is the best. The producers, director and I are on the same page and we collaborated for NGK with utmost honesty. The result of the film doesn’t affect me, but it would feel better if such films did well.”