“Soodhu Kavvum” fame Kesavan aka Ashok Selvan is on a high with back-to-back hits. After experimenting with films such as “Thegidi” and “Pizza 2: Villa”, the young actor is now trying his hands at comedy and action films. In this freewheeling chat with Only Kollywood, he talks about success, his journey in the industry so far and the road ahead.
Excerpts from the interview –
I’m definitely happy that my films have been received well and are critically acclaimed as well. I want to continue doing content-driven films and experiment in all genres.
What do you think adds more pressure – success or failure?
I think both. Success comes with good pressure and responsibility. Failure will risk your career. If two films don’t work out, you’ll have to pack your bags and go home because there’s no backup plan. I mean there’s always the possibility to bounce back, but you’ll have to start from the scratch. I’ve seen my friends struggle to get an offer after few flops. We’re working in a hero-based market, so it’s extremely difficult to survive with failures.
When an actor scores a hit, film offers start to pour in. How difficult it is to say no to directors on their face?
When you say no to an offer, a lot of people take it personally. If I don’t like a script, I just don’t do it even if I know or don’t know the director. But this is where egos clash and people think how I can say no to them when I’m just a year old in the industry. Hence, saying no is extremely challenging but I always like to be frank and never try to sugarcoat what I want to say. If I’m not happy with the script, I’d just say it. Some people get offended but many appreciate that because I didn’t make them wait for an answer. A lot of actors make directors wait on a project for a long time. I don’t like to do that because I have a lot of friends who are working as assistant directors. They like it when an actor says yes or no to their offer as quickly as possible. I think half of the people don’t take ‘no’ in the right spirit, while others appreciate it.
After Thegidi, how many offers did you turn down?
I think I must’ve turned down a lot of offers. Some films I couldn’t say yes because I didn’t have dates to work on them. I’m currently dubbing for a film called ‘Savaale Samaali’ and I’ve also recently signed a film for C.V Kumar and another project called ‘Varai Padam’. Since I signed three films back-to-back, I didn’t have dates to sign any new project.
Do you regret signing multiple projects in one go? Sometimes a good script might come your way after you’ve signed a few films?
At one point, I’ve asked myself that shouldn’t have I waited before signing these projects. But you can’t predict the future. Maybe a good script may not have come and I’d have regretted missing offers that came my way. But I’ve only signed projects I’ve really liked. Sometimes I regret not doing a film for a close friend who’s even ready with a producer because I don’t have dates. I just think its part and parcel of being in this industry.
Do you feel you’ve changed as an actor after three films?
I’m more comfortable now and can grasp faster than before what my directors try to convey. I don’t see any major changes. I still approach a script like I’ve been doing from the beginning. I also feel little more confident about my decisions.
What’s been the best comment you’ve received for your performances?
After watching the first show of Pizza 2: Villa, one guy came running and knocked on my car’s window. I rolled down my window and he said, “super, super, super, super thala’ and ran off. I won’t ever forget that because it was my first film as a hero. I felt really good because there was no need for him to do that because I’m not Vijay or Ajith. At Vijay Awards earlier this year, filmmaker Bharatbala appreciated my work in Thegidi. I think that was one memorable comment because I had auditioned for a prince role in one of his films few years back called ’The 19th Step’ with Kamal Haasan. The project was however shelved.
After three back-to-back hits, do you feel you’ve reached a point where you can demand roles?
I don’t think all my films are hits. Villa had its share of negative and cynical views. My type of films is independent and not mainstream as they are mostly made on low and medium budget. I should create market space before I can demand roles or for that matter anything. I think it will happen in the next few years.
Do you also feel that you’re one among the actors to have been typecast as C.V Kumar products?
People always keep asking me why I only work in C.V Kumar’s films. But they should understand when I approached others for work nobody gave me an opportunity. He gave me an opportunity to act, and then made me a hero. All my three films so far have been under his banner but I’ve branched out with my next film. I plan to do more films for other producers as well. I’m doing a film for Arun Pandian and then another film with Murugadoss’s assistant Ashraf. I’ll be doing another film with C.V Kumar in January (2015). I don’t think there’s anything wrong in people asking me this question.
How are you treating the success you’re enjoying now?
The best part about the success as an actor is when you go out and people identify you. Thegidi was unanimously appreciated, while Villa had difference of opinions. When I’m in public, people smile at me and wave their hands. It feels so nice. I was recently shooting in Switzerland for ‘Savaale Samaali’, and people there came and spoke to me. They were so happy to see me. I think I get a high when I make people happy
“Savaale Samaali” is a full-length comedy entertainer and you’re playing the lead in it? How does it feel to work in this genre after “Soodhu Kavvum”?
I was getting typecast in serious roles. Even if you look at Soodhu Kavvum, I played the serious character and I hardly laugh in it. That’s when I decided to try my hands at comedy. I’m doing this film because I really liked the script. I guess this film will help me reach the masses because both Thegidi and Villa, I hate to say this, felt like they catered to the multiplex audiences. ‘Savaale Samaali’ has come out very well and I’m very confident about it. Comedy isn’t easy because it took me a few days to get a hang of it. It’s the kind of film that will entertain everybody. The other film ‘Varai Padam’ I’m currently working is an actioner. I’m trying my hands at full-length action role as well.
What have you learnt from your own films in this short duration in the industry?
I’ve learnt that you shouldn’t listen to anybody in the industry if you want to survive. It’s safe to follow your instincts. I’m still learning everyday in the industry. I have a long way to go and I’m just taking baby steps.
You’ve worked in a few short films with your friends. Are you open to working with them in feature films as well?
I’m actually waiting for that to happen. If I can go one step higher in my career, I think I can look forward to work with them. Then, I’ll be in a position to start doing things that will make me work with them. If there’s space for me to do anything to work with them, I’d be glad. I think I have to earn that position for all that to happen. Most of my friends are waiting with scripts. Maybe in two or three years I might get to work with them. I think I’m more comfortable working with them because I’ve known them for years.