Action king Arjun reinvents himself in every film. malathi rangarajan on the different facets of a workaholic star
Actor, writer, director and producer. If this wasn’t enough, the ardent devotee of Anjaneya is busy building a temple to house a huge idol of his favourite deity. “The last alone is permanent. The temple will remain for eternity and the very thought is gratifying. The other pursuits are part of my profession,” smiles Arjun, as he reclines comfortably on his chair at his office on Chamiers Road, Chennai.
He’s just back after a music session with Vidyasagar for Aruvadai, in which he’ll share screen space with Mammootty. “Music interests me. I sit with the composer for all my songs,” he says. Arjun is not formally trained in music but he’s adept at playing the keyboard. “I don’t know the grammar. I can play a song once I listen to it. Don’t ask me how.”
A laugh riot
Marudamalai has just released and Arjun is happy with the way the film has shaped up. “It is an out and out commercial film. The audience can laugh their lungs out. I’ve done comedy for the first time, bolstered by Vadivelu’s portrayal of an inane cop. In keeping with expectations, there’s plenty of action too.” Incidentally, much is being said about the risks Arjun took for the Marudamalai stunts — jumping down from the tenth floor of a multi-storeyed building was one of them. Couldn’t this prove costly? “Of course, it could. But on the set when the shot is explained, I suddenly tell myself, ‘Why not?’ How much variety can you provide in fights? Yet fans expect something new from me in every film. So I go ahead. Later, when I look back, I feel it could have cost me dearly,” he shrugs.
Arjun is working with Bharatiraaja for the first time. The film, Bommalaatam, has Nana Patekar too. “It’s been a fabulous experience. Bharatiraaja has moulded the roles very differently. In fact, you will see only the characters, not the actors in Bommalaatam,” says Arjun.
“My next directorial venture will begin in December,” Arjun announces. Envisaged as a bi-lingual in Telugu and Tamil, it will be a launch pad for his nephew Chiranjeevi. “He’s a promising young man,” he avers. Interestingly, this will be the first time Arjun isn’t acting in a film he’s directing. “I think it’ll be fun. I have the freedom to create characters not caught in an image web like I am. I look forward to directing other heroes,” he laughs.
Sevagan was Arjun’s first film as director. “I rate it No.1 because it gave me a second lease of life when I was down in the dumps after a string of flops. My hard work paid off.” Gentleman and Mudhalvan with Shankar, Rhythm and Jaihind are his other favourites.
Again Thavam, Arjun’s sixth production, will not feature him, except in a couple of shots. Arun Vijay is the hero. “Thavam is a remake of the Telugu film, Itlu Shami Subramaniam.” Does he think Arun will hit the bull’s-eye this time? “Arun is a sincere worker and if Thavam succeeds, as a producer I win. Come on yaar, it’s not such a big risk,” he laughs and as an afterthought adds: “As you say, I do take up a lot of things. At times, I do get lackadaisical. But soon I pull myself up. ‘No, Arjun. You have to buck up,’ I tell myself,” he laughs.
Hero of 130 films, writer and director of eight and producer of six … have the 23 years of running around ever made him consider calling it a day? “Far from it! With so many interesting things to do why should I even think of relaxing?”
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