A year of reckoning: Keerthy Suresh on the high road to success
While the last two years have been quite good to Keerthy Suresh, it seems that the best is yet to come — and given her list of upcoming releases, that could well be this year. In some of her Tamil releases for this year, she is paired opposite Suriya in Thaanaa Serndha Koottam, Vikram in Saamy Square and Vishal’s Sandakozhi 2. As for movies in other regional languages, there is Agnyaathavaasi (Telugu), opposite
Pawan Kalyan, and a trilingual, Mahanati (Nadigaiyar Thilagam in Tamil) — the biopic on yesteryear heroine Savitri. Rumours now suggest that she has been approached for Vijay’s next which is to be directed by AR Murugadoss. Despite all these heavy-duty projects, the actor seems pretty relaxed when we meet. “More rest,” is her resolution for the year, even though she is quick to add, “Whatever resolutions I make, I never follow through (laughs). So I probably should not make any resolutions.”
The big one
Keerthy is eagerly awaiting the release of Suriya-starrer Thaanaa Serndha Koottam (TSK), to hit screens this Pongal. She can’t stop raving about Suriya, we realised. “I’ve been a fan of him right from the days of Ghajini. Amma (actor Menaka Suresh, of Netrikkan fame) had worked with Sivakumar sir and I’d told her that I would do a film with Sivakumar’s son even when I was in school!” she says. “Today, I’m glad it has happened. He is reserved and doesn’t talk much, but when it comes to work, he is co-operative and great to work with.”
This is also the first time that the actor is working with the film’s director Vignesh Shivn (of Naanum Rowdy Dhaan fame). “He has a unique style of filmmaking, and all his characters are so different. He comes up with lines spontaneously on the sets, and so we have the liberty to be natural. This freshness translates to the screens too,” she says.
The film also has a number of veteran artistes like Ramya Krishnan, Karthik and Senthil. “I don’t have a scene with Karthik sir, but I’ve got scenes with Ramya Krishnan ma’am. I like her a lot. She’s part of an ’80s group that amma is part of too; so they meet often. Our shooting happened immediately after Baahubali, and so, we spoke about that film a lot. As for Senthil sir, he’s really cute — like a teddy bear (laughs). I never knew I had scenes with him and I’m glad I did.” On her role, she surprises us by saying her character doesn’t have a name in the film. “I play a Brahmin girl, and from the trailer, I’m sure you noticed she’s got a homely look, but there’s more to her than meets the eye.” The film is set in the late-’80s. “It’s something different from what I’ve done till now,” she adds.
Before TSK’s release, the actor will be seen in her third Telugu film, Agnyaathavaasi, that’s getting released next week on January 10. The film will have her sharing screen space with Pawan Kalyan for whom Agnyaathavaasi is his 25th film. “I am glad that my first two films, Nenu Sailaja and Nenu Local, did well at the box office. Agnyaathavaasi is a huge project for me and I’m glad to be a part of something of this proportion so early in my Telugu film career,’ says Keerthy.
The actor is also riding high on bagging roles in the sequels to two movies of the previous decade — Saamy (2003) and Sandakozhi (2005). “The responsibilities in a sequel are high. For Sandakozhi 2, Lingusamy sir created a beautiful character for me; so I accepted immediately. He knew that people loved Meera Jasmine’s character in the original; so he made sure mine too would be something similar. I had to make sure my performance was on par with her, if not better,” says Keerthy, who felt the same with Saamy Square. “I made sure Trisha was a part of Saamy Square before I signed up because we’ve seen her chemistry with Vikram sir in Saamy. Unfortunately, she isn’t a part of the film anymore. I really liked her character in the original.”
Riding the biopic wave
Keerthy Suresh is excited about playing the role of yesteryear actor Savitri in her biopic. “I never calculate films based on whether they’re performance-based or commercial films. We need the experience to carry performance-oriented films. That’s why I’m doing Nadigaiyar Thilagam now, which I think is my first challenging female-centric script. I did get such films before, but I wasn’t as impressed as I was with this one,” she says.
“It’s a tremendous honour because we all know how incredible Savitri ma’am was. I had a lot of doubts and fear when accepting this project. I didn’t think I resembled her. I didn’t want to bring a bad name to her legacy. I accepted the film only because it shows the arduous journey she had to endure to become what she was,” says Keerthy, who didn’t realise how huge this project was when she
accepted it. “I didn't know how big the project was when I got on board. Whenever I spoke about Agnyaathavaasi, they would also ask about Mahanati as well, and that’s when I got to know how important this project is too.”
Striking a balance
Keerthy admits that there are noticeable differences between working with senior stars and younger actors like Sivakarthikeyan. “There is some apprehension when working with a senior star. Bayam kandippa irrukum (there will certainly be fear). But all these stars give immense respect to other artistes and technicians. If we speak well, they do too. With the younger lot, it’s easier to open up. On screen, you will never know the difference as you see only the characters.”
She is keen to balance heroine roles with multi-starrers. “It’s all about what the story demands. For example, the character Samantha plays in Nadigaiyar Thilagam is important and strong. As she’s a part of it, the film naturally becomes bigger, which is great. So I shouldn’t be selfish. Similarly, in Saamy Square, it would’ve been amazing to see the original pair of Trisha and Vikram sir together again. That said, yes, it’s nice to play a character who’s the sole object of the hero’s affection,” says Keerthy, with a laugh.
All in the family
Keerthy is all smiles when talking about her family, besides her mother — many of whom are also in the acting business now. Her father, Suresh Kumar, a noted producer in the Malayalam cinema industry, recently forayed into acting with last year’s Dileep-starrer Ramaleela. “He has signed two more projects as an actor — one with Mohanlal sir and another with Tovino Thomas. My grandmother, too, is acting now and my sister is busy with her VFX commitments. So amma, who was the first to act in our family, says that all of us are in the field now and she’s ironically now at home (laughs).”
Kovai on her mind
Keerthy says the connect she shares with Coimbatore is special. “I can’t forget the city. We shot the Audi car scene for Rajini Murugan in Coimbatore. I have a lot of friends here. The place itself has evolved so much, what with huge colleges and cool hangouts. I also came here for a college event in 2017. Though I haven’t stayed in Coimbatore, I'm looking forward to being there soon.”