One of many best filmmakers in Tamil cinema, Mani Ratnam is aware of how to attract out the perfect of transformations from his actors — efficiency and appearance-wise.
Ashwin Kakumanu, close to unrecognisable from the clean-shaven police officer we knew in Venkat Prabhu’s Mankatha (2011), and who just lately confirmed his participation in Ratnam’s upcoming interval movie — Ponniyin Selvan, is aware of what the implication is.
“I look like a ruffian” is what he instructed filmmaker Nandini Reddy when she introduced him on board for a Telugu-language Netflix movie, starring Amala Paul and Jagapathi Babu — shot on a premise much like the Lust Tales anthology.
“It is a cameo role, but Nandini ma’am told me that my character was pivotal, and that she only needed my eyes,” he laughs.
Whereas it’s extremely good to have reputed filmmakers make their casting name primarily based on one’s bodily options, Ashwin is aware of that it can be a “double-edged sword”.
“I have been approached by people who wanted me to represent a stereotype. You know what I’m talking about… the fair-skinned, good-looking guy who gives the hero a complex?” he says.
Is he referring to the ‘American Maapillai’ stereotype? “Yeah, that! It has always been a fear right from the beginning [for me]. It is that thankless character where there is nothing you bring. That is why I’m wary, when people say they want me for a particular role. I start to ask more questions on what I get to do with it,” he provides.
One can assume that Ashwin wouldn’t have thought that he could be pigeon-holed at any level in his profession, contemplating his launch in Tamil cinema — a meaty function as a part of an ensemble solid in Mankatha (his début was in a small function in a Gautham Menon movie).
Moreover a distaste for “ultra commercial” movies — “I like things which engage me mentally as an audience, and that’s when I have fun as an actor,” he says — the partitions round Tamil cinema (not so dissimilar to different language movie industries) will be insurmountable for somebody deemed an outsider.
“It is largely family-owned,” says Ashwin, referring to the Tamil movie trade. “…and when you’re coming at it as an outsider, and you don’t have the connections or people giving you advice… when you are figuring it out on your own, it takes time. The odds [of survival] for such a person are extremely low. I think the fact that I have been around for this long means something,” he provides.
Leaving a path
By means of the testing instances, what got here in useful for Ashwin have been alternatives from the digital sphere.
He examined waters with Nila Nila Odi Vaa (a horror-romcom for Viu) in 2018, and has since been part of exhibits like Fingertip (for Zee5); he reveals that he’s in the course of filming one other one for SonyLIV.
Silver display comeback
- The following eight months, Ashwin says, is about becoming in initiatives that goes alongside along with his Ponniyin Selvan look. The listing additionally features a two-film take care of producer-director CV Kumar, one in all which is confirmed to go on flooring earlier than Ashwin begins filming Ponniyin Selvan. “It is a rom-com. I play this protagonist whose idea of romance is very filming, the sort of what we have seen in a Gautham Menon or Mani Ratnam film. He gets called out for these stereotypes like when he falls in love because he finds the girl pretty. It is not a conventional hero glorification script. We start shooting in mid-November,” he says.
- Whereas the rom-com can be directed by a debutant, the second movie (for which the script remains to be underneath dialogue) can be directed by Kumar. “I’ve been a huge fan of his. A lot of the talent that he (Kumar) has introduced has gone on to very good things. So, you can’t deny that the man has an eye for talent, and an eye for making these interesting scripts profitable as well,” Ashwin provides.
“It’s referred to as Ivar. It’s a political investigation thriller, and I play a rich Tamil man from Delhi who’s sort of in despair, and is an alcoholic. He returns to seek out his roots in Puducherry. He takes over an previous printing press and revamps it to solid a highlight on crimes that aren’t being highlighted in newspapers,” he says.
Moreover, he can even play a cameo function in Venkat Prabhu’s digital sequence début with Hotstar that has Vaibhav Reddy and Kajal Aggarwal within the lead.
Though digital platforms current an alternative choice to mainstream content material, there’s a prevalent false impression about actors who take up provides on this area, particularly amongst Tamil movie producers who deem them to have dropped down a stage.
“Those people are hypocrites. There will be some who say, ‘Oh, he is now a web series actor’, yet the same guy will finance a web series himself. So, what are they… ‘web series producers’?” he says, including, with a nod to the inevitable development of digital platforms, “But the perception is changing. You now have Kajal [Aggarwal] and Amala [Paul] doing it. And the theatrical business… in the next 5-10 years, it is going to shrink even more. It will really only be the big star films that would work theatrically.”
The actor additionally grew to become a father in July of this 12 months, and is dedicated to making sure he has a hoop facet view to look at his daughter develop up.
“My father died when I was 10. If I try to psycho-analyse one of the reasons why I got into movies, it was because of that loss. The desire to escape from reality was strong. So, I want to be there for my child as much as possible… to just be there and enjoy that part of watching her grow up.”