AR Murugadoss and Mahesh Babu’s Spyder might have received mixed reviews. But one thing that all critics unanimously agreed to was the brilliance of director turned actor SJ Suryah’s performance. A gloriously wicked role, SJ Suryah revels in each frame as Sudalai and has been lauded profusely for his uninhibited portrayal. Amid his busy schedule, we managed to catch the actor for a quick chat.
Q.Your performance has been received very well by the audience as well as critics. Any particular comment that stands out?
Every single compliment I received is special. The fact that everyone unanimously like my performance is itself a huge compliment for me.
Q.Do you believe in preparing for a role? How did you prepare for Spyder?
It is definitely good to prepare for a role. A director thinks for about 6 months or a year to conceive a character. So to perform with quality, it is good to prepare with his guidance and narration. However, the preparation should be for the characterisation. One should be careful to not rehearse too much, to the point where it becomes monotonous. I feel it’s good to maintain that difference.
I did prepare for Spyder, well kind of. When Murugadoss sir enacted the character, I searched for roles with similar traits. I looked for things to keep in my mind to push my performance to next level. He had also suggested a few references as inspirations. There is difference between copying and being inspired. My performance had my version of those traits. Sudalai’s body language was pretty clear when he narrated the story to me. However, I sat down with Murugadoss with my lines and had a discussion as to how to deliver them.
Q.You have always said that you wanted to be a hero. A hero can be both an actor and a star. Which category would you prefer to be in?
It is not just me but everyone wants to be star. However, the way to reach that position is to be a good actor. I want to be an actor with a good ideology.
Q.By ideology you mean?
More than the characterisation, an actor will have his own personal ideology. For example, Rajini sir’s ‘Naan oru thadava sonna nooru thadava sonna madhri’. The dialogue won’t suit everyone. Another example would be MGR sir’s song “Unnai arinthal nee unnai arinthal ulagathai poradalam, uyarnthalum thazhnthalum thalai vanangamal nee vazhalam”. His style was to inculcate and convey philosophy. In general, one needs a good ideology to lead life well. A person with a good ideology will automatically reach a good position.
Q.So we can see you in a commercial movie soon, in a ‘mass’ role?
*laughs* It should happen organically. It is not something that we can buy. It should happen on its own. Wonders can’t be made, they should happen.
Q.There is an indirect but strong connection between your films’ heroes Mahesh Babu and Vijay, whether it is movies or the cult status they enjoy. Tell us one similarity and difference between the superstars!
The similarity would be the sincerity they work with and the love and care they posses. As to the difference, Vijay is very silent offscreen but is naughty onscreen. On the other hand, Mahesh Babu is subtle onscreen, but is very ‘chutti’ (naughty) offscreen. Infact, there is a small kid within the two of them. If men can be called mischievous, then it would suit these two.
Q.At this point of your career, what do you look for in your scripts?
The project should excite me. If it does, it will take me to the next level. Say if we eat dosa for breakfast every day, won’t we get bored? We crave for variety, right. I have worked hard to be a good actor. It is a journey that has just begun. At the start, diversity is crucial. If I do something that I haven’t done before, that will definitely push me forward.
With Spyder and other upcoming projects, my roles are very different. Sudalai is dark whereas I am a stylish villain in Mersal. My role is Selva sir’s Nenjam Marapathillai has a cult characterisation, an anti-hero actually. I play the hero in Iravaakalam. More than calling myself hero, I can say I am the ‘kadhanayagan’ (lead character of the story). I think of stars as heroes, the rest are lead actors. I didn’t choose these projects, the scripts chose me. While I had searched for such projects all these years, now they find me. I focus on how to efficiently essay the roles I get.
Q.Will you continue playing roles with negative shades?
Ideally, I would prefer to essay a hero. But I agreed to Mersal and Spyder as when you shift from negative roles to hero roles, the step is larger. It becomes a leap. I felt that God had given me the opportunity to make such a leap. Moreover, they interested me. We should be excited with what we do; there must be job satisfaction. I get that with all my current projects. Later if I don’t get such projects, then I will start searching for them.
Q.Apart from Mersal, another much awaited movie of yours is Nenjam Marapathillai with Selvaraghavan. When can we see it on the big screen?
I can’t say a tentative date, but it should come out soon. There is a high possibility that it will be out before the end of this year.