Sivakarthikeyan exclusive interview: 'I don't sign films based on remuneration' - Hindustan Times

Sivakarthikeyan exclusive interview: 'I don't sign films based on my remuneration'

Jan 09, 2024 09:07 AM IST

Sivakarthikeyan, in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, talked about his film Ayalaan and his career, so far.

Sivakarthikeyan is considered one of the most bankable stars in Tamil cinema today and has delivered a hattrick of superhits from 2021. He has just completed a decade in the industry and on January 12, his much-hyped sci-fi film Ayalaan is set to hit theatres on the occasion of Pongal. Helmed by R Ravikumar, the film stars Rakul Preet Singh, Isha Koppikar, Yogi Babu, and Karunakaran, and has music by maestro AR Rahman. Also read: Sivakarthikeyan responds to trolls at Ayalaan pre-release event

Sivakarthikeyan, in chat with Hindustan Times, talk about Ayalaan.
Sivakarthikeyan, in chat with Hindustan Times, talk about Ayalaan.

Sivakarthikeyan says that despite the delay in the release of Ayalaan, he is happy with the film and can’t wait for the audience to watch it. In an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times, the Tamil star opens up about the film, his journey and even his salary.

Tell us about your upcoming film, Ayalaan. The movie’s release was delayed by three years…

This is a fantasy film – what happens when something extraordinary happens in everyday life? What would happen if an alien came into your normal life? The idea was interesting, and when I heard the story, it was exciting. At every stage of the film, as we shot and added computer graphics (CG), the story evolved, and that was exciting. You need a lot of patience to make a film like this (Smiles).

We completed the film shoot by February 2020, but we couldn’t start CG work till the Covid-19 pandemic settled down. The CG company shut down due to Covid-19, and we couldn’t work on it for two years. There were also financial issues, which got resolved but that also delayed the film.

Despite all these issues, are you happy with how Ayalaan has turned out?

Yes, I am. That’s the reason why we put the film on hold. Even when the financial issues came up, we wanted to sort them out and make the kind of film we had in mind. If it was a regular film, we could have looked at cutting out a song or some scenes and so on to finish the film faster and reduce the budget. But Ayalaan is not that kind of a film. We either do it the way we had envisioned it, or we drop the film – that’s what our thought process was. I am convinced we have made the film we wanted – an entertaining film for the audience.

Maaveeran was about a cartoonist and heroism. Doctor was about an apathetic army doctor who saves the day. Don was about a clash between a college student and the founder. All were superhits. Your films are all a little different – is this a conscious decision?

Initially, I was doing only commercial films, and they were all appreciated by the audience. My film market started to grow, and there was a minimum guarantee for my films. I was hesitant to experiment because I didn’t want my films’ business to be affected. Then I thought, why not give it a shot? My decisions on such scripts are instinctive – one aspect is that the audience should like it; the other is that it should give me scope for performance. When I signed Maaveeran, director Madonne Ashwin hadn’t won the National Award yet, but I was sure I wanted to work with him.

I am very conscious that my producer should not suffer losses because of me. I am clear that I will experiment in such a way that it doesn’t impact the business of the film. Just because I feel like doing something different, I can’t expect the producer to take a financial risk.

You are one of the top five Tamil heroes now and there’s a lot of debate about male actors and their salaries.

As I said, I analyse every film project I sign on. Right from the beginning of my career, I haven’t taken a fixed salary for every film I sign – it’s different for every film. If the risks are higher for a producer, I lower my salary. I don’t commit to any salary before I know what film I will be doing and who the director would be. I look at the size of the project and then decide on my remuneration. For instance, Doctor was an experiment, and Ayalaan is very different. I am trying to find a balance between my creative desires and the business of the film – I want them both to be satisfied.

You’ve just completed one decade in Tamil cinema as an actor and are seen as a star who can deliver for a producer. How do you see your growth?

I am working in Kamal Haasan sir’s production now with director Rajkumar Periasamy. This is a totally different film from what the audience would have seen me in. When I saw some of the footage of this film, I realised how big a journey it has been for me in the last 10 years. Looking back from when I was an anchor, to today, where I can capture the audience with my on-screen performance, it’s a huge evolution. In the last 10 years, the learnings I’ve had, the successes, failures, and mistakes I’ve made - everything has been an education for me. I was an outsider who came into the film industry, and every film was part of the learning curve for me. I’ve learnt you need to be aware of your strengths, and weaknesses, be cautious and constantly keep improving. There is never a point in this career when you can say – this is it, I know everything or can do everything.

Who is your idol in Tamil cinema?

Rajini sir (Smiles). He is an entertainer, and I always wanted to be an entertainer. Rajinikanth sir’s journey is inspiring, and it gave me hope that I could also do it. After entering the Tamil film industry and seeing what this world is like, I have more respect and more love for Rajini sir.

Do you feel pressure before a film release? Do you get affected by failure?

Definitely! A movie is opinion-based, and it’s important for me to know how people react to the film. The first day of release is tense. If a film doesn’t do well, I’ll be by myself for a few days. Only after 10 days or so I analyse what went wrong and try to avoid it. But there are so many factors as to why a film doesn’t work - right from the time of release to whether it was the first half, second half, my role, etc. A film’s failure upsets me for some time, then I move on to the next project.

Do you ever want to direct a film?

I was an assistant director to director Nelson Dilipkumar (of Doctor, Beast, Jailer). But after entering the industry, I realised how tough a job it is (Laughs). I have a desire to direct a film one day.

What do you wish for in 2024?

That my festival release Ayalaan should be appreciated by the audience. We have made this film with a lot of love and hope, and I want the audience to enjoy it. This is what is foremost in my mind. Ayalaan is made for kids, but it’s not a kiddish film – it is a film for adults as well. When you look at Hollywood superhero films, they are meant for all. Ayalaan is like that though kids will find it more attractive. It’s a kid-friendly alien, which I think the kids will love.

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