After playing the villain in Spyder and Mersal, SJ Suryah played someone who wouldn't hurt even a mouse in Monster. He played Ramsay in Nenjam Marappathillai, who is as good as the devil himself. In this interview with Vishal Menon given around the release of Monster, SJ Suryah talks about how he can give both wild and regular performances, how his experience as a director helps him as an actor, and whether he gives directorial inputs when he is an actor.
You've said earlier that your stint as a director and a producer was supposed to make you an actor. Finally, you're an actor where you're not directing yourself. There are other people waiting in line to make you an actor. Are you finally happy?
(Laughs) Yeah, kind of. Still not very happy, but happiness has started coming.
Is it that difficult for somebody who's not from the film industry to become an actor?
It's not a tough job, but to become famous in acting it's very tough. To become a star it's very, very tough. Such a competitive world and you have to make it.
Did you work it out that at a certain age you'd give these many hits and after that you'd make a film as an actor?
I don't bother about the net result, but I keep travelling towards my destination. That's my motto.
Last time you insisted that you don't want to be called a seasoned actor. At least now, do you change that? Have you become a seasoned actor now?
I have started becoming seasoned actually.
So now when you look at the earlier roles you've done, do you feel like this is not how I would have done it now?
No, no. I don't have that regret since Isai. After Anbe Aaruyire and before Isai I've had awful experiences. But, I don't blame the directors. I blame myself because I was not able to give good performances for them.
Even if you'd have done New or Anbe Aaruyire now?
New and Anbe Aaruyire are fine. I'm fine with them because the characters required wildness, like Jim Carrey or Woody from Toy Story. I used aspects where the character moves his eyeballs. So the Toy Story eye movement, Jim Carrey body language, and somewhere Sivaji were all inside my system (laughs).
But that wildness has to be uniform right?
If it is required, I will give such a performance.
Even for Spyder?
Yeah. Initially AR Murugadoss gave some references and followed a meter. He was talking about Hannibal Lecter and Silence of the Lambs, and of course Joker from Dark Knight.
Then, what do you go through?
He gave me a scene paper where I have to wear a sack with a zipper, only eyeballs and lips are exposed. So you have to deliver your wildness through eyes and lips (laughs).
Was it all trial and error?
It was fine, actually. All the best scenes were shot in 10-15 minutes, including lighting, trolley setup, cameras, to finishing the shot. The railway station scene and the sack scene took just 15 minutes.
Conversely, if you get more time does it become difficult?
Not really. I don't know why, but it all happened towards the last one hour so you have to finish the scene. Next day, the location is not available. Maybe the pressure would have helped, I don't know, a blessing in disguise (laughs).
So you're not thinking about it and complicating it in your head?
No, no.When you go through the lines you fix the high points in your brain. If you do too much rehearsal you'll spoil it.
Is there a lesson from the director in you that the actor uses?
Yeah, when I was behind the camera, I shot other actors and went to the editing room. I see the frame not just once but a million times to edit the rushes. So, now I got used to the camera. If you place a camera I don't need to go see the monitor. I know which angle of me is getting exposed.
So, even when directors tell you do they use directorial terms to tell you? Compared to telling an actor?
No, when you place a camera I will automatically adjust my face. With my jawline I don't show it in a particular angle.
Do directors come and ask you for a suggestion? Because you have a very visual mind.
Yeah, but I never encourage such things. I don't want to either. Everybody should follow their own job and designation. If you're a director, be a director. If you're an actor, be an actor. Don't change into other things.