Actor Sibiraj: Sometimes, you do films not for the reviews but for the revenue
... says the actor, who returns with last week’s Ranga after a gap of two years
Pandemic has transformed people in unimaginable ways. Many actors, for instance, have spoken about the isolation, about shooting under restrictions, about the ever-changing dynamics of business... However, Sibiraj begins by saying that not much has changed for him. "I hear colleagues say that the pandemic has made them rethink their script choices. However, even with a film I did 15 years back (Lee), I tried to experiment. I have always been trying to be versatile." The actor, however, concedes that the audience has become more accepting of experiments today. "They are consuming content across languages and genres, and this means that when we try out something new, we don’t have to prepare them for it. They are already ready."
His latest release, Ranga, was supposed to hit the theatres two years ago, but pandemic put paid to plans. While many other films opted for a direct OTT release, Sibi and team Ranga chose to wait for the theatres to get reopened. "The film is a thriller made for the theatre experience. It was a tough call to wait for theatres, but producer Vijay K Celliah and director Vinod DL were confident about the decision," says Sibi, who plays a youngster afflicted with ‘alien-hand syndrome’, a movement disorder that causes a limb to act autonomously. "The film is the story of a normal guy, for whom his limb becomes both a dreaded enemy and a guardian angel. The film has been designed in a way that would make it appealing to everyone."
Children, especially, form an important segment of his audience, after the success of Naaigal Jaakirathai (2014). "The love I received from kids for that film was overwhelming and since then, I have always tried to cater to them with my films. Ranga is an action film, but director Vinod has played around with the syndrome to create some hilarious portions for the children. My upcoming film, Ranger, has a tiger playing a crucial role, and I am positive that children will enjoy that film too."
Ranga, incidentally, is Sibi's fourth release to reuse the title of a classic Tamil film. Sibi laughs, and says, "Sathya was probably the only film for which we were adamant about reusing an old title. I am a big fan of Kamal sir's original film and we felt that having that title would make a lot of difference. Walter and Ranga were titles chosen by the producers to have an impact." His last two releases, Ranga and Walter, haven’t exactly won positive reviews. “Yes, Walter didn't fetch a lot of appreciation, but tradewise, it turned out to be my highest ever opening. It was on the verge of becoming a hit in the B and C centres before the pandemic set in. Sometimes, you do films not for the reviews but for the revenue."
While Sibi speaks openly about his future films, he remains guarded about one: Vattam. "Producer SR Prabhu is one of the best strategists in Tamil cinema and he wanted us to maintain a certain suspense about this film," he says.
The actor will be stepping into Telugu cinema with his upcoming bilingual film with director Pandiyan Adhimoolam. "The film will suit both the Tamil and Telugu audiences. It is a thriller without supernatural elements, and yet, I am confident that certain portions will frighten everyone. Also, I am learning to speak Telugu and it’s exciting to learn a new language. It’s like new horizons are opening up."