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Actor with many hats to wear

S. R. ASHOK KUMAR

Sarath Kumar juggles many roles not only on screen, off too. Time holds the key, he says.


I want to write and direct a film on Netaji. And I should do the title role.



RARING TO GO: It has been a happy journey for Sarath Kumar, whose `Chanakya' will hit the theatres today.

Starting with ``Kann Chimitttum Naeram" (1987), actor Sarath Kumar has come a long way. Donning different roles in a chequered career, several of his films such as "Suryan," "Naattamai," "Cheran Pandiyan," "Natpukkaga," "Surya Vamsam," "Samudhiram," "Maayi" and "Aiyya" have showcased him as an actor with talent, the macho element always a predominant factor.

Hard work and determination have brought him success and the actor has just started work on ``Thalaimagan," his 100th film under the Radaan banner, that of wife-actress Radhikaa.

We catch up with Sarath Kumar, all ready for another innings. Excerpts from the interview:

Do you think doing the 100th film is itself an achievement?

Well, let me admit that when I entered I never dreamt that I would be crossing this landmark. In that sense it sure is an achievement. I was pursuing so many things but once I took the plunge I completely dedicated myself to this field. It has been a happy journey — doing villain, character role and hero in the company of so many directors. But there is so much to do. I should select interesting subjects, in tune with the market trend, educate the youth, who are the leaders of to-morrow and so on.

You wear so many hats — actor, secretary, South Indian Artists Association, MP, etc. How do you manage?

It is basically time management. I plan my activities and of course, I have people to assist. I am taking a leaf out of Amitabh Bachchan's book. He has balanced acting and public activities beautifully. He has managed to stay on top choosing subjects to suit his age and stature. That's where he scores.

Your wife Radhikaa plays a significant role in all this?

Yes. She involves herself in my work although she herself is busy, leading a popular TV company. Again she plans her time wonderfully.

Which are the three or five best films have you done so far?

That will be rather difficult to say. I put in my best efforts for each film but not all of them do well. A couple of films should have done better than what they did at the box office. They are Mani Ratnam's production "Dasarathan," with Kitti as the director, "Aravindan," the debut film of Nagaraj where Rathnavelu was introduced as a cameraman, and "Paarai" by K. S. Ravi Kumar. All the newspapers unanimously said my performance was wonderful. But some times the audience rejects films on which you bank.

Do you believe in changing get ups?

Yes. Character comes really alive that way. At least there is no monotony. Coupled with body language, appearance can definitely sway the audience in your favour.

You started as a distributor, turned to acting and now you are a singer. When will you wield the megaphone?

I want to write and direct a film on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. And also do the title role.

What, according to you, are the basic qualifications of an actor?

When I entered the film industry I thought that looks mattered most. Then I realised it was not all that important. After reaching a hundred films I feel remaining healthy is vital. I want to set a good example for those watching my films. Looking fit sends out a positive message to the people. These days, an actor must be a good dancer, have a sense of humour, fight well and of course have style. And last but not the least, I believe in destiny.

About your forthcoming ventures?

"Chanakya," directed by A. Venkatesh, is due for release on September 23. The two of us make a fine pair and have given hits before. Next is "Khakki" directed by Vincent Selva. It was for this film that I sported the tonsured getup. " And then "Thalaimagan," which is my 100th film.

Have you taken care in the selection of the landmark film?

Certainly. The fact that young blood is involved in the production was enough to inspire me. The director, music composer and cameraman are new. But we have some popular names as actors. Nayanthara, who acted with me in "Aiyya," is coming back. Seema Biswas, the `Bandit Queen' is playing a police officer. Prakash Raj and Vadivelu are also there. That my good friend Cheran is doing the screenplay gives the film the extra edge. Watch out, the Radaan team is sure to win.

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