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The Chennai Paiyya

After a dream debut followed by a magnum opus, actor Karthi Sivakumar is on a thrilling ride in the glitzy roads of filmdom. The effervescent actor speaks about his passion for cinema, brother Suriya (whom he adores) and a tryst with the extraordinary.

“I didn’t always want to get into films. But, I discovered my interest very late in life”, smiles actor Karthi. After a brilliant debut with director Ameer Sultan’s Paruthiveeran which won him critical acclaim, he went on to do Selvaraghavan’s Aayirathil Oruvan replete with rustic charm and ancient splendour.

With his latest film Paiyya, Karthi does something which he’s never done so far – play the role of a “normal” person on screen. “Paiyya was actually a normal guy’s experience but for me, it was totally new. All my earlier films were character oriented and incredibly different. It took me quite some time to get used to the normalcy around. In a film, there are so many fine moments which a film maker would ignore but director Linguswamy made sure that such instances between two people were captured. And, that offered me a lot of opportunity to perform”, adds Karthi with a flourish.

Be it the sturdy villager in Paruthiveeran or the chief coolie on an extraordinary expedition in Aayirathil Oruvan, Karthi’s roles has strictly hovered on the offbeat horizon. With Paiyya, the actor arrives at the commercial arena with aplomb. “As a commercial hero, it’s was film where I was supposed to dance and fight. On screen, an actor usually tends to go back to the earlier characters but I couldn’t do that. So, it was the technicians who took time to groom and helped me settle down in the character”, explains the actor, on a humble note.

However, Karthi had directorial ambitions before acting came knocking at his door. Apart from finishing his mechanical engineering followed by a Masters in the United States of America, the actor was an assistant director to Mani Ratnam for the film Yuva. “After my studies, I was working as a part time graphic designer and that’s when I found out that engineering wasn’t what I wanted to do. I thought I should take risks and plunged into cinema. That’s when I realized that cinema was my passion”, says Karthi, nonchalantly.

In a career span of five years, Karthi has already worked with some of the reputed filmmakers in the industry. “I always wanted to work with good film makers. After all, who is telling the story is very important. So, I did not worry about the script because I knew they would take care of it. I worried more about satisfying them – to be able to meet their expectations as an actor. I think that got me all the credit because as directors, they are task masters. And, if they approved my work, that means it is really good”, he relates.

Hailing from a family of accomplished actors, does Karthi feel overshadowed by his immensely successful brother, actor Suriya? “My brother’s style of acting doesn’t affect me. In fact, I take a lot of inspiration from him. His style of working or how meticulously he plans his characters, his expressions and his constant effort not to be repetitive and the way he improved everything stage-by-stage, like his dancing for instance – he enhanced himself and grew as an actor”, says Karthi, in awe.

Karthi’s next project is Naan Mahaan Ilai directed by Susindran of Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu fame. “My next film is a father-son story in a typical Chennai middle class set-up which ultimately becomes a crime thriller. My character is very interesting and that’s what got me hooked to the film”, he admits enthusiastically.

Casual yet charismatic, Karthi confesses about his wanderlust! “I love to travel and it has always been like that. Not like a rich man’s hobby but I still remember that as college students, we travelled on trains and in second class, unreserved compartments. I also like wildlife and usually spend time in Top Slip or other such forest reserves”, he adds on an effervescent note.

Beyond the arc lights of fame, Karthi is the quintessential boy-next-door. “I am a typical Chennai boy and that, describes me the best”, signs off Karthi with his signature smile.

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