Talking about being a character artist, does being one give you all the freedom to experiment in terms of the variety of characters you can play when compared to a mainstream star?
Yes! I absolutely love this freedom and I decide what I want to do. One day I am playing a supporting role and the other day I'm the lead. There's no restriction really but with stars like Dhanush sir around you don't really feel like stars aren't experimenting. After watching Vada Chennai you'll understand what I'm trying to say.
Earlier, you mentioned that you can do any kind of roles. How do you manage to juggle between projects and character moods?
I make sure I never work on two projects simultaneously. Vada Chennai was shot for 40 days and if I had a 4 day break in between, I'd happily spend time by myself. This helps me retain the mood of a particular character. I'm in no hurry!
Have you ever feared getting stereotyped as a preachy hero?
I cannot care less about the stereotypes but to be honest I am not trying to advise. I'm trying to give suggestions/consultancy (arivurai) out of concern because I consider the audience are like my family members. With my past experiences, if suggestions that I draw are useful, why should I cease from giving it out? And after making a movie like Vada Chennai, I don't mind making tons of more preachy films. I mean, that film empowers you in that manner
How would you describe your rapport with Vetri Maaran?
Right after I watched the 5 AM show, I called him and enquired where he was. I went right into his office and touched his feet. This admiration is not just as an actor but as a writer. That story grew with him for years and you'll see its growth on the screen. All the awards in this world must go to Vetri sir. That writing deserves it all.
Do you still get that "me" time to read and write like before?
Definitely. I always have a notepad with me where I am writing notes through the day. Give me a 10 minute break in between a shot and you'll find me with my notepad or reading a book. Aaru Kaatu Thurai is the book that I'm reading now and I'm considering it to be made into a feature film. Let's see!
Are you into this "No Phone" policy?
Phones are very distracting. One call can disturb a train of beautiful thoughts that you would have developed after hours of working on it. That is why I have started avoiding it as much as possible. Soon I look forward to not using it all. It'd be more peaceful and I can get a lot of work done.
What kind of thought goes behind choosing a script like Aan Devathai?
A script calls itself to be made. For example, while I was shooting Poraali's climax, I heard the story of Saattai. That story didn't let me sleep; it commanded me to tell it out to the people at the earliest. I called Prabhu Solomon immediately and told him to begin all the pre-production work. Aan Devathai is one such story.
Do you have any unfulfilled wishes in life?
I'm very content in life, Now I spend all the time thanking god for this blessing he has bestowed on me. I involve myself in feeding the poor and I wish I get the strength to feed more people every day. I have been an assistant director and I understand the pain of hunger very well.
Closing note... I just hope that everybody has a genuinity and goodness in thought. Action is secondary. In the thought level if they are doing well, that itself is a good sign. Thank You!
Like his films, even this crisp conversation gave me so much to take back. Thank you Kani sir...