The conversation skews to the question of the similarities and differences between the various industries he has worked in – Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Hindi to name just five. “We use the same camera, lights and so on and it’s only the language that differs. You are the deciding factor for your life. It has to do with the interest and integrity that you have towards your profession. The emotion and the soul of the movies is the same. I have done Tamil, Telugu and Kannada films. I can write in Hindi also but my fluency is not very good. People don’t speak in Hindi in Kerala. They watch Hindi films but they don’t speak it.” His preferred way, he says, when working in an unfamiliar language is to write the dialogues down phonetically in his own tongue, and then to memorize the words.
Across all these languages, which filmmakers have offered him the most fulfilling projects? After a brief reflective pause, he says “I’ve done Mani Ratnam films which have offered me the kind of roles I have really enjoyed doing. When RGV approached me for ‘Company’, he had only seen a single film of mine and he said that was enough for him to know that I was the character in his film, and I liked his vision. Then obviously Priyan and I have been friends and share a special chemistry. I like his style of film making and the fact that he is constantly working. When a director takes a break for a couple of years and comes back to direct a film, he can be a bit rusty. It’s very simple with him, he describes the scene to me and I act.”
One thing that strikes you about the actor is how unchanged he has been, physically, for most of his career – even in these modern times when Bollywood heroes go through dramatic physical transformations for their roles. Would he tinker with his body for the sake of a role? “I will also gain weight,” he laughs, jesting at his own considerable bulk. “Whatever the role demands, I will lose or gain weight to suit the character.”
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