Arvind Swami On How Mani Ratnam’s Bombay Helped Him Cope With His Parents’ Death, Film Companion

Tamil actor Arvind Swami made his big screen debut with Mani Ratnam‘s film Thalapathi in 1991, cementing his status in the industry with roles in Roja and Bombay. He is slated to appear in seven films this year, the first of which Bhaskar Oru Rascal has been released. In an earlier interview, he spoke about how he felt ‘directionless’ following the death of his parents and how working with Ratnam helped him out of that zone:

“I will be very honest with you, I was studying overseas and had to come back because my mum was diagnosed with cancer and she was terminally ill. It was not like the prognosis was good. So I came back to spend time with her in hospital and she passed away. Then in a few months, my dad also passed away. Then I went back to my office, family business. I couldn’t sit in the office because it was a very, very directionless period for me. I was the only child. My parents, they had a dog and a lovely gentleman, who was cooking for me and had been with me since my childhood. I couldn’t step out of the house because I didn’t know how to handle the fame that Roja had brought. I didn’t like the attention that I got, so I had to sit at home or at the office, it was not a space that I was comfortable with.”

He said he wasn’t thinking of the riots when he signed Bombay and that opting to do the film was a personal choice.

“Mani knew where I was coming from. In Bombay, especially the second half, it was a grungy kind of work. There would be things burning, there would be fire, there would be a lot of chaos and a lot of artists. The emotion was there. It would be early mornings to late nights, there was no time to think and actually, that was much needed for me. When I was not acting, it was not like today, where you sit in the caravan. If I was not acting, I had to go and do junior actor management in the background, or set the props, that’s what he made me do, I don’t know why he made me do it, it just helped me get over that time in my life.”

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