A grand return to the silver screen

A grand return to the silver screen

Not many manage to stage a comeback in the competitive Tamil film industry. More importantly, even if they do, they still wouldn’t dream of regaining their position that they once enjoyed when at the peak of their careers. Arvind Swami, however, is different. He made a fantastic impact with the Mani Ratnam-starrer Roja, acted in a few films more, before choosing to quit the film industry. He then chose to return almost 14 years later, with Kadal, another Mani Ratnam film. Interestingly, people have accepted him on his return in the same manner that they had when he first entered the industry 14 years ago. The love, adulation, and the respect has not changed one bit.

Point out to Arvind Swami that despite having made a comeback after almost 14 years, his place in the film industry has still been kept for him and he says, ‘‘I think my break is bigger than the period that I worked as an actor. I did not return with the arrogance that such a warm welcome would be accorded to me the second time. I got an opportunity and I returned to acting, that’s all. It was only accidentally that Mani sir called me to act again in Kadal. I did not even have an intention to act at that point. I also did not have the thought to stop with just one film after having acted in Kadal. I wanted to do different characters in different films. More importantly, audience’s appreciation, be it for Thani Oruvan or Bogan, was touching and heartwarming.”

It is not just the fans who love Arvind Swami. Even those in the film industry are fond of the actor. Many say that he is a producer’s delight for he is known to be one of the most accommodating actors in the industry. Take, for instance, his last film, Bhaskar Oru Rascal, which is still running in theatres. The producer of the film disclosed that he had gone out of his way to help the film release. Sources say that the actor has taken a pay cut to help out his producers during their difficult times in the past.

Talking about cuts, he says, “In the case of some people, I feel that I must do it for free. In some cases, I feel that people are taking advantage of me. In such instances, I don’t do it. It is like any other business transaction. It depends on the individual, the relationship you have with the person, your understanding of the problem and the knowledge of whether it (the problem) really exists. I do not have any standard rules in this regard. The expectation is that we stick by what we say.”

Arvind Swami is known to be very vocal. He is often seen on Twitter and invariably, his tweets seem to be full of anger. Ask him about this and he says with a smile, “Even those angry tweets are tweeted calmly. I do it peacefully. I don’t do it because I am an actor, and I want to promote my films. I do it because I wish to express my opinion on issues. I need to express my thoughts to someone, right?” When his attention is drawn to the fact that people who expressed such opinions have now come to politics, he says, “I don’t understand politics. I don’t even know how to release my own film, let alone coming to politics. There are a lot of things for me to ponder on like why is there a delay in the release of films? I am not saying that I am the one who is going to solve it. But, at least, I want to think about it. Any political decision affects the common man. I react in the capacity of a common man.”

The Tamil film industry recently chose to go on a strike for over a month-and-a-half. Aravind Swami’s tweets during the period made it evident that he was unhappy with the strike. After it ended, the producer’s council claimed that it was to bring a proper structure to the film industry. Is he happy with the objectives that have been achieved by the strike? “Generally, my opinion is that we can solve a lot of issues by having a discussion. I wanted the issue to be resolved soon. Although everybody struck work and participated in the strike, the fact remains that the industry has a lot of daily labourers. If the strike was extended to a long period, their lives have been affected. Moreover, that was the period the holidays were beginning. I did not feel that this was a good time.”

Aravind Swami played the role of a villain in Thani Oruvan and has become a hero again. The actor says that he has never looked at roles as that of a villain or a hero. “In Bogan, I thought I was Bogan and therefore acted in it. In Thani Oruvan, I thought the story revolved around Siddharth Abhimanyu and therefore I acted in it. I convince myself of the importance of a character and then act. When there are interesting aspects that enhance the scope of reaching the audiences, I do not look at the conventional structure of it being a hero or a villain. If there are interesting roles on offer, I will definitely do it. I only dislike one genre and that is horror. The script has to be interesting. That is the only thing that matters.”