do you live up to comparisons when you are SPB’s
I don’t know if I have lived up to it.
I have got some good numbers. The comparison
is always there. Many have told me that my voice
sounds like dad’s when he was younger.
I have my own hits, so I have done justice.
Many have told me that my voice
sounds like dad’s when he was
Which are your
Luckily most of the songs I have sung are melody
numbers. The Telugu numbers I have sung for Keeravani
Sir, Mani Sharma, Devi Shree Prasad for Mazhai, A.R.Rahman
sir, Ilayaraja sir, it’s hard to pick one or
two as I have not sung thousands of numbers. O Shanthi
from Vaaranam Aayiram is one of my favorites, songs
from Alaipayuthey, Mazhai and a few Telugu films too.
How is it working
with different music directors and their styles?
Not much of a difference, just get in front of the
mike and start singing. That’s basically what
our job is, only thing varies is the kind of motivation.
Ilayaraja sir is strict in few things. Rahman is not
like that, he just says you keep singing however you
feel. He collects all the tracks and you don’t
know how it will eventually take shape. For Ilayaraja
sir, the track is set, so you can sing and listen
to it then and there and know this is how the song
will be. He is strict about pitching and improvisation.
Rahman gives you the liberty to sing however you want.
How was it singing
in Mazhai for Devi Sri Prasad?
Devi is pretty cool. I sang one song in the recording
studio and one in his bedroom, he’s that cool.
We are very good friends, he lets me do what I want,
I give him suggestions and I try that with the song
and vice versa. All music directors are pretty casual.
Technology is there so they have a laidback attitude
to music. You can take your time to sing a song. It’s
not like there is a whole orchestra waiting for the
singer the way things were before and you had to record
in a stipulated period of time.
Almost all my songs are melodies
but I like to do the peppy ones
kind of songs do you personally like to sing?
all my songs are melodies but I like to do the
peppy ones. There are some in Telugu that have
become hits and I would like to perform them
onstage. Those are more upbeat ones and get
the audience going.
Have you had
formal training in music?
No, unfortunately not.
Did you find
that as a disadvantage?
If you know the ragas, it’s
very easy to pick up a tune. I can pick up a tune
well but still if you know music it’s faster
How was it recording
for the ‘Om Shanti Om’ song?
Nobody was there when I was mixing
the song. I went there and there was a problem with
the lyric, so I ended up doing it the following week.
Gautham and the lyric writer was not there, it was
just me and Harris. He has got this amazing studio,
a really small voice booth but with amazing lighting
that set the mood for this song. He asked me to do
what I liked and I think he liked what I gave him.
how is it that you got into acting?
I suddenly got a call from K. Balachander’s
office, Min Bimbangal. They wanted some guy for the
serial Oonjal and they wanted someone who knew music.
I said yes, went for the audition and got picked.
It was not a conscious thing to move on to acting.
I took the opportunity and people appreciated it.
Does your father
help you with singing?
I never had any formal training and
with my dad its only post-mortem. He listens to the
songs and tells me you could have done it better.
He makes suggestions in the tuning like you should
have concentrated in this place, things like that.
I take all those pointers because when I am singing,
I have to be conscious about my tuning so that it
turns out well because dad is going to eventually
hear it and tell me if its good or not. He has been
happy so far.
Which is your
favorite role of the ones you did?
I have not done 25 to 30 movies so
it’s easy to pick. The baddie I did in Unnai
Charan Adainthen, Saroja’s role and Quarter
Cutting that is coming out for Diwali. I am looking
forward to it; I think I have done a good job.
your role in Va-Quarter Cutting?
It’s a supporting character
for hero Shiva as his would-be brother-in-law. This
guy is supposed to be responsible and Shiva tries
to impress him that he is the right match for his
What got you
interested in production?
I always wanted to get into ad film
making. I had digressed into singing and acting. While
doing Oonjal, a friend of mine Samudrakani narrated
a story to me and I really liked it and wanted to
produce it. It was a very small budget movie to start
off and the artistes were just Venkat Prabhu and me.
I told dad and he liked the script and asked me to
What made you
Time. I have gotten into cinema to
do good cinema. I don’t think there was anything
wrong with Mazhai but it was beyond my capacity. Unnai
Charan Adainthen was finished in one crore but though
people said it was a good movie, I made a loss. I
thought that to recover everything I should do a big
film. I bought the rights for the film from Telugu.
I approached Ravi and Shriya and they liked the film,
we thought it would be successful but unfortunately
it was not. But its about picking scripts, I want
variety in my productions.
What made you
pick up that script of Chennai 600 028?
So far I have done movies that no-one
else had done except Mazhai, a common commercial cinema.
Unnai Charan Adainthen was a script based film about
a thick friendship, there are a few movies, but here
its how the friendship affects the woman, a love triangle
within the friendship which was never exposed in cinema
Chennai 600028’s concept was about our lives,
how we played cricket on the grounds and streets.
It was packaged very well by Venkat Prabhu. He gave
me the script and asked me to get it directed by someone
else. But I said, this is about our lives and nobody
else can know what we have been through. Either you
or I have to direct it and you better do it. He was
petrified but I said we would do it together.
with Venkat Prabhu
We are childhood friends. I know
him for about 25 odd years. Its not like we had to
work together but we have been through a lot together.
In Unnai Charan Adainthen, I introduced him as hero
and it was his first film. We were doing a lot of
concerts together and traveled together. It was a
natural evolution and our friendship became a professional
relationship. I am very proud of him; he is one of
the biggest directors in Tamil cinema now.
is he on the sets?
Venkat Prabhu’s personality is that he
is such a fun guy. He is so casual yet gets
things done. Sometimes though on the sets he
would tell me, no-one is working, come and shout.
I would scream at everyone and they would start
working. After the shoot, everything is casual.
Venkat Prabhu’s personality is
that he is such a fun guy
When I listen to a script, it has to
how do you choose the scripts for producing movies?
what I like. When I listen to a script, it has
to excite me. It has to be very different, if
it is something I have seen in Tamil cinema
or any other language, I won’t do it.
It has to be new, fresh and it has to appeal
to me as an audience.
How do you look
at profit and loss in producing movies?
That has been a problem so far. We have been able
to mange the cost of production well but unfortunately
the amount that has been generated in the B O is not
adequate. I wonder if my choice of films is wrong
and it appeals only to a certain kind of audience
and not pan-India or pan-Tamilnadu. I am more city
–centric and must cut down on that and be more
There are rumors
that you may quit production
It could be true and something that I am contemplating
right now. There are few distributors and the industry
is lucky because of Red Giant, Cloud Nine and Sun
Pictures because they are buying some movies and making
them hits. There are no individual distributors any
more and no small time ones who can release films
on their own. We have to depend on these three companies
to pick them up and they need stars. Invariably, every
star has a waiting period of 2 to 3 years and everything
is done on borrowed money. It just doesn’t seem
to work out. I probably may just do one last movie
and want to do Chennai 600 028 Part II if that works
out. I have been approaching one big hero for some
time and he has accepted and I am trying to look for
a script, these 2 will be my last productions.
There is a talk
that tickets of low budget movies be priced less than
high budget ones?
We cannot manipulate the exhibitors because they
are providing facilities.
Tell us about
playing the lead in Vaanavarayan–Vallavarayan
That is yet to happen, when it happens let’s
see. It’s a fun film and I am looking forward
to it, it’s still only in the paperwork stage
your role in Va-Quarter Cutting? Can you elaborate?
This is a fun movie, I have been a fan of Pushkar
and Gayatri, they come from a different kind of a
thought process, or take Kumararaja Thyagarajan who
is Aaranya Kaandam’s director; they all have
a very eccentric thought process. I have seen Oram
Po and had a blast. When I had an opportunity to do
this character I was really excited. The kind of movies
they do and the way they do it is really good. I was
working with Nirav Shah; it was fantastic; he is one
of the top technicians in our country. The whole team,
Y Not studio, Lekha, Shiva, G.V. Prakash, all of them.
We had a fun time; we shot 60 days and all during
nights. It was fun from the beginning to end, I hope
A good opening
ensures success. Your take?
Well, ticket rates have gone up. Good facilities
are available, new screens, there is revenue there.
The greater number of screens and prints are more;
revenue and digital prints have come in too. We don’t
have to spend 60000 to make a print; a fraction is
all that is needed. This translates into people going
to all theatres. You no longer need a film to run
100 days, by two weeks you know. This is a healthy
trend, there will be more theatres and more movies
What are the
current projects you are working on?
Aaranya Kaandam is the only one. It has been selected
by the South Asian Film Festival at New York. I am
looking forward to that and hoping it will get picked
up by some studio.
Tell us a little
more about Aaranya Kaandam
This is an action drama that has Jackie Shroff, Ravi
Krishna, and Sampath and introduces Yasmin and Ponappa.
It has romance, comedy and a multiple screenplay.
I am living my dreams right now
future plans and ambitions
thought of it. I am living my dreams right now.
If I have better times, I will do more movies.
Cinema is my passion.
Can you give
some tips for budding singers?
I am not a trained singer so you shouldn’t
ask me. If you have talent, meet music directors,
audition and if you are lucky you will make it. Keep
the ambition going and the fire burning.