All eyes are on Arvind Swami ahead of Jayalalithaa biopic Thalaivii’s release on Friday. Kangana Ranaut plays the titular role while Arvind Swami plays MG Ramachandran. Since the MGR teaser release, he has grabbed eyeballs as people have commonly voiced that he has brought the iconic leader back to life. However, he maintains a lowkey and says, “What can I say? I am not used to celebrating such things and embracing stardom. I thanked a few people who praised me on social media after watching the premiere a few days ago.”
He backs his statement and goes on to say this is how he looks at things. “I have been this way since Thalapathy. When I first faced the camera and delivered a dialogue people said I did a good job. I didn’t know how to react and said “Apdiya?” (Is it?). Fast forward to 31 years, I reacted the same way on the sets of Thalaivii. When my co-stars said I did a neat job of playing MGR, my reaction was more or less the same. They do that to keep the actor in a good mood. I am here to do a good job. That’s what I am being paid for. I need to keep my producers and directors happy. Once the film releases you may or may not like it. However, I should be convinced that I have done a good job. Hence, I was focused on staying in the skin of the character and maintaining the momentum,” he tells us.
Looking at his unbelievable approach towards his career and life we couldn’t help but heave a huge sigh. He smiles and adds, “For instance, Thalaivii releases on September 10 and will be out of theatres in a month or 45 days. People will move on and they would see other films and enjoy other characters as well. So, this won’t stay forever. I have a movie shoot on September 11. Do you think I will be able to perform there if I dwell on my MGR character?”
When Vijay approached Arvind Swami to play the role, he left it to the actor on how to go about the role. “I have watched a lot of MGR movies in theatres while I grew up in my Madhavaram dairy farm. So, I had a fair bit of idea about his mannerisms. It is to be understood that I wasn’t given the job to mimic MGR. I was entrusted with the responsibility of bringing him back alive on screen. We all know how he is on screen. Several iconic moments have happened behind the camera and in private, it is about those moments that we have focused on. Though I took inputs from a few people, I brought in my improv to the character,” he explains.
Arvind worked with biomechanics and body engineers to look at the part before the shoot. “I don’t look like MGR in real life in any dimension. Do I? My muscle proportions are different from his. Hence I had to work for that with biomechanics. My elbow is at a different angle when I open my hands and MGR’s were at a different angle when he opened it. These are the things I noticed and worked on. There are a billion other things that I cannot reveal and you cannot notice it even when you watch it on screen,” he laughs.
A common opinion among people who lived during the times of MGR said that Arvind Swami can easily win an election in Tamil Nadu if he contests in this makeover. Was he approached by a political party when the state elections took place earlier this year? “Yes, I was. One of the political parties had approached me indirectly to campaign for them in the state elections,” he says with a huge grin.
When hearing him talk about the effort that he has put in, we couldn’t help but ask him if it took a while for him to get out of the character. He replies, “No I didn’t have to. You would be surprised to know that I was stuck in Varadhan’s character from Chekka Chivantha Vaanam for a long time. I was aggressive, restless, and couldn’t get out of that zone for some time. Maybe because I was discussing it with Mani for quite some time or I was already an aggressive person when I entered the shoot of CCV.”
For those who know the actor well, he is an ardent follower of cricket. After a chit-chat about the ongoing England-India test series, we ask him about his upcoming projects, “Naragasooran is all set to release. Also, I have a shoot in Mumbai on September 11. I have also finished shooting for my film Kallapart,” he tells us. This year Arvind Swami also forayed into direction. On the writing front, before signing off he says, “I have completed writing three scripts. I will have to allocate some time for direction as well.”