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Riding high on '12B' fame

It is emotions that fascinate Shaam about cinema. ``The exciting part of cinema is that it can make a normal person cry even when you know it is not real. Be it ecstasy or depression, emotions touch people".

On January 7 last year, he met director Jeeva for the first time. The very next day, he was called for a meeting with producer Vikram Singh. The day after that, he signed up for his first movie.

Never before had he been so anxious in his life. ``I didn't know who to talk to. I was new here. Didn't know anybody then. I spent three days sitting at the beach. I was just praying. Then after I signed the movie, I told my people and they didn't believe me. They couldn't believe that I was signed as a hero... With stars like Jyotika and Simran. And that too, a double role,'' says 12B Shaam, replaying moments for Sudhish Kamath at the Filmworks office on Saturday afternoon.

IN A span of three days, he became a hero. Within a movie, he is among the most sought-after actors. Directors such as K. Balachander, Vasanth and Priyadarshan signed him on. He became the media's blue-eyed boy. And the toast of Kollywood.

A reception only Hrithik Roshan or Madhavan has had before in recent times. One film that didn't do all that well created a star. But Shaam is not too carried away by all that. ``I don't think I have attained stardom in one movie. Nor will I attain stardom in ten movies. I am not too keen on being called a star. Of course, I am an ambitious person. I want to hang on, survive, and enjoy doing movies that appeal to me,'' reveals Shaam.

There is no pressure whatsoever, he says. And no fear of having created expectations. ``Yes, I am grateful and thankful to the people of Tamil Nadu for accepting me in such a big way. The reception has been inspiring,'' he says. ``If a `no one' called Shaam was appreciated, a known Shaam can be appreciated more. That is what I am striving for,'' he adds.

Being an actor is just another job. Shaam approaches it with all the seriousness it deserves. He has made it a point to dub for all his films himself as he has now done for Vasanth's `Yai! Nee Romba Azhaga Irukae' and Priyadarshan's `Lesa Lesa'.

``I'm looking at all possible scripts. I always go by how good the whole movie is and not just how the lead character has shaped up. Because at the end, if the movie is not good, it does not matter, however good the character was. I am doing various kinds of roles now. I am trying an action-based role in `Bala' with a slightly tough look. I am playing a student in Jeeva's `Pepsi','' says Shaam.

``The challenge is in jumping roles--from `mature' roles to playing a student and be able to jump to mature roles again, would be challenge. I don't think I will lose my youth even at 30-35. It is just how confident you are in pulling it off,'' he adds.

``In 12B, I did put in a lot of hard work. But I was dependent on Jeeva sir. In `Yai! Nee Romba Azhaga Irukae', I didn't have a Jeeva. They didn't treat me like a newcomer. Even in `Lesa Lesa', it was a different issue. I was expected to know my job. I have tried out a little bit of comedy in `Lesa Lesa'. It's got everything actually,'' he deviates to continue: ``Good comedy, good casting, good story, all the twists, good songs''.

Talking about his future projects, he is excited about `Bala' with debutant director Deepak. ``Earlier, I didn't take up projects with newcomers because I wasn't confident of myself. But with a few films with experienced directors, I am getting that confidence now,'' he says.

`Pepsi', his next film with Jeeva is a campus-based tale ``about the emotions of a college guy''. ``It is realistic. It goes beyond issues like love or future. I am sure it would be a trendsetter,'' believes Shaam.

It is emotions that fascinate Shaam about cinema. ``The exciting part of cinema is that it can make a normal person cry even when you know it is not real. Be it ecstasy or depression, emotions touch people. I would want to do something like what Aamir did in `Rangeela' or what Manoj Bajpai did in `Satya'. Those roles are challenging because they were portraying people they never were,'' he explains.

``We all go through love, we all have had fights, we all have been exposed to business--we have all gone through most of these in life. It's easier to portray. But...Aamir has never been a `tapori' in real life nor does Bajpai have anything to do with the underworld in real life, but the fact that they actually make you believe that they might be is what makes me want to do those roles,'' says Shaam.

One of Kollywood's most eligible bachelors, Shaam says marriage would be ``Mom's decision''. ``Being married or not has nothing to do with your work. Your work is what you've done on screen. That's what I believe. And that's what I want to do,'' Shaam signs off, at the end of a 15 day break after months before he finishes one more song from `Lesa Lesa' and gets into the mind-set of `Bala'.

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