Actor Srikanth gave a mind-blowing performance in his last release, Sudha K Prasad‘s Drohi.
Soon after that, he was signed by Shankar for Nanban, the Tamil remake of Aamir Khan‘s blockbuster movie 3 Idiots. He will enact the role played by Madhavan in the original.
En route to dub for the Telugu version of Nanban, Srikanth spoke about acting under the brilliant direction of Shankar.
How did you get the part in Nanban?
Drohi, my last film, was produced by Gemini Circuits. When I came to know that they had acquired the rights of 3 Idiots, I asked whether I could be a part of it. They said they would put in a word to Shankar, but that the final decision would be Shankar‘s.
In November 2010, three days before Diwali, I got a call from Shankar Sir’s office. I waited for about 10 minutes for him to come out. I couldn’t believe it when he started apologising for making me wait! What struck me was how humble he was even after achieving so much.
He then spoke to me about the role. I said, whatever be the role, it would be a dream come true for me.
Did he tell you that you were going to do Madhavan’s role?
Yes, he did. He gave me the complete description of the character. He also told me that Vijay and Jeeva would do the other two characters.
He told me that he was very particular about my role as this was the character who took the story forward. He said he wanted someone who had a good voice and diction.
He also told me that he saw Drohi and was satisfied with my performance and asked me to work to be the character. I then told him that I would cancel my other films and surrender myself to be this character.
Is this the biggest film in your career so far?
Yes, there is no doubt about it. Acting in a Shankar film is a dream come true for any actor. Nanban is not only directed by Shankar Sir, it is also the remake of a Hindi blockbuster.
Have you seen 3 Idiots?
Yes, I have, quite a few times. Maddy is a fantastic actor and he has done a brilliant job. I feel there is bound to be comparison as both of us are south Indians. So, once I signed the film, I decided to forget what Maddy had done in 3 Idiots. I didn’t want anyone to say I was influenced by Maddy in any scene. It was a conscious effort.
What kind of preparation did you do?
Shankar Sir had detailed instructions about my get-up too. The character has a present and a past in the film, so, I had to look like a college student. I lost quite a few kilos to get the lean, mean look.
I also shaved off my moustache. I was without a moustache after I don’t know how many years.
Also, I used two different voices for the present and the past; masculine, heavy voice for the present and a slightly nasal, boyish voice for the past.
How was the first day of shooting?
What was memorable was that my daughter was born on the second day of the shoot. We started shooting in Ooty. Jeeva and I were there then. In the afternoon, I got a call that my wife had been admitted to hospital.
In the film industry, we believe that the first two days should never be cancelled. So I knew I would never be able to make it to Chennai. I was quite tense and Shankar Sir asked me what had happened.
I told him the truth. His response was, ‘What are you doing here then? It is a very important day and you have to be with your wife.’
I said it is the second day of the shoot. He said, ‘Don’t worry about anything. You go and be with your wife.’ He canned some shots as I was on my way to the airport.
I rushed back to Chennai and thanks to Shankar Sir, I was with my wife during the labour. I was the one who accepted the baby.
What was it like acting as a college student?
I enjoyed acting as a college student more than as an adult. It has become boring to be an adult!
College days are full of life. It is the best days of your life which you will not realise when you are in college. Only when I acted as a college student after many years did I realise that we had so much energy both mentally and physically.
How different was your experience of working in a film with a multi-star cast?
It was great to be working with an actor like Vijay who has such a huge fan following. You understand what makes him so likeable to so many people. He is a very organised person, very punctual, and does his homework very well. He is very silent but once in front of the camera, he is a live wire.
Jeeva is one actor who doesn’t have to put too much effort into acting. It comes naturally to him. He was perfect.
Which scene was most memorable for you?
The scene in which I confront my parents was the most memorable. It is a very important scene that has an emotional dimension.
That was one scene one could not underplay or make melodramatic. It was a long scene but we canned it in one take.
After the take, Shankar Sir said he was very happy and I did a good job. He also spoke about that scene at the audio release function.
And what was your experience of being directed by Shankar?
He is a very well organised person. He is passionate only about cinema and is not interested in gossip. He is very humble and respectful to all. He is also a very good actor. Most importantly, he is very grounded.
I’ve always wanted to work with him. I did, and I learnt quite a lot from him. I also enjoyed working with him!