In Indian cinema there are a few actors who have always been open to experimentation. One of them is Nasser, the class actor whatever the role be. 17 years after his entry into films, he is on the verge of completing 200 films mainly in Tamil and other South Indian languages. The multi-dimensional actor has also directed some offbeat films like Avatharam, Devathai and Maayan. But somehow the box-office has eluded him so far as a director. Now on the eve of the release of his new Mohanlal-Simran starrer in Tamil titled Pop-Carn, Nasser is yearning for recognition at the box-office. Nasser speaks to Sify.
Q: You are recognised more for the villain roles that you have portrayed and later as a character artist. How do you react to that?
A: I am here to do the roles that are offered to me. At the end of the day, I am sure that I will be known for some of the memorable characters that I have portrayed. In Tamil films playing hero in popular cinema is no big deal. I have played the hero role in films like Maghalir Mattum, which was a great success.
Q: But you never tried to play the conventional hero role?
A: I have always made it clear that I am willing to do both; the negative and positive roles provided the script is well written. I hate to play the conventional star roles in Tamil films, which is not my cup of tea.
Q: You have been recognised as a fine actor, but the films that you have directed have not done well at the box-office. Please comment.
A: Who said so? My films like Devathai and Avatharam got a lot of critical acclaim and I have been recognised by the serious audience. Is box-office the only criteria by which a film or director is judged? Anyway my answer to all my critics will be my new film Pop-Carn. I am sure that the film is going to please everybody.
Q: You were the hero in all the films directed by you. Why?
A: It was purely due to circumstances. A popular hero of that time was signed to do the role in Devathai but he backed out in the last minute saying that it will spoil his image! In the case of Devathai, the hero wanted some changes in the script, which I was not willing. In Maayan too the star refused to be directed by me, as he feared that the film would be too arty. So in all the three cases I was forced to step in to the film at the last minute.
Q: So you finally managed to get a hero for Pop-Carn?
A: (Laughs) Yes. Mohanlal was initially reluctant to do a film in Tamil, but after he heard the story he asked me to go ahead and start the shoot.
Q: Why did you choose Mohanlal, whose is not hot among the Tamil audience?
A: Mohanlal deserved a National Award for Iruvar which was his first film in Tamil. He is one of the finest actors in our country and he has fitted perfectly into the role of musician Vikramaditya in Pop-Carn. As an actor Mohanlal can be compared to Robert-De-Nero and Tom Hanks!
Q: What is the basic theme of Pop-Carn?
A: The title itself is an abridged form for Pop-Carnival. I just wanted to fulfil the urge to make a good film. The story is about a young music troupe searching for a guru and they discover Vikramaditya, a great musician who was taking a long sabbatical from music due to his personal problems. This young troupe digs out the mystery behind Vikramaditya’s past and his forced retirement. The story is told in a flashback where his wife, a fusion dancer Jamuna played brilliantly by Simran had separated from him due to ego clashes. I have tried to focus on why celebrity marriages don’t work out due to personal egos.
Q: Were you inspired by Guru Dutt’s classic Kagaz Ke Phool?
A: Yes I am an admirer of Guru Dutt and have been inspired by his works. Similarly I can say that Akira Kurusova and Charlie Chaplin have also inspired me. But Pop-Carn is a total entertainer aimed at today’s youth.
Q: How confident are you about the commercial success of Pop-Carn?
A: It has a feel good touch about it. The movie is about emotions, egos and the human element. And it is a musical with seven songs tuned by Yuvan Shankar Raja that are already on top of the charts. Then there is Vivek’s comedy, which is crucial for the story to move forward. Above all the performance of Mohanlal and Simran will bring in the audience. All that I can say is that the film has a potential to be a hit. If I knew the secret of what works at the box-office and why, then I would be a more happy man (Laughs).