Ten years back, Subramaniyapuram was all set to release. The film was helmed by a debutant director named M. Sasikumar with a set of some unknown, bearded faces. There was a struggle to get screens — all they got were noon shows and smaller screens. But once the film hit the theatres, there was no stopping them. It was one of the rare films that got a screen on Satyam cinemas a week after its release. “Initially we hadn’t gotten a screen at Satyam. But we had our 100th-day function here,” reminisces Sasikumar. After a roaring success, Subramaniyapuram made Sasikumar a name to watch out for.
Ten years on, it is time for another Sasikumar release. However, it is not from Sasikumar the director, rather it is from Sasikumar, the actor. The actor’s Asuravadham is about to hit the screens and Sasikumar believes that the film is something he hasn’t done before. “When I watch other films of mine, I can identify myself on screen. Naa inga nadichiruken, dialogue pesiruken, aadiruken etc. (I have acted here, danced there etc) But that won’t happen with this film. Asuravadham won’t be like my other films — my body language, look and everything is slightly different,” he said. “In fact, I only dubbed for ten minutes for the first half,” he adds.
Known for his rural-centric stories, Sasikumar plays a construction business worker who returns from Dubai. In comparison to earlier roles, Sasikumar dons a slightly urbane look in Asuravadham. Ask him this was intentional and he says he can only choose from what he gets approached for. “I don’t decide what kind of films I do. I am always on the lookout for different scripts. But the directors who narrate scripts to me, write rural-based characters as they have watched Sundarapandian or Kutti Puli. Naa vera oru character kaga wait panen na apdiye irunthidavendiyathu than,” he says with a laugh. “I have to pick from what I get and I like rural dramas, that is a forte that I know well. But I am ready to do different characters as well.”
But his characters will also stay rooted in realism. “Nobody looks at me as a superhero. If that happens, then I will get the space to deviate from reality. People see me as one of them. My character in Asuravadham is also from the same mold,” he said.
It has been a while since Sasikumar donned the director’s hat. Film direction is what got Sasikumar into tinsel town as well. He admits that he likes being the person who is in control of everything. “Right from school, I have been more inclined towards directing. At school plays, I have seen my teachers instruct the actors and I decided that’s my place. I wanted to be the one telling others what to do.”
However, Sasikumar ensures that it will happen very soon. “My situation right now demands that I act. The actor is saving me right now. I don’t want any hurdles or distractions when I am directing. I want to be the person who decides what I should be doing. I directed Subramaniyapuram, acted in Nadodigal then again went back to directing Eesan. I declined when I was offered Vimal’s role in Pasanga. When commitments increase, I had to do a few things to fulfill them. I had to function for others. I want to direct when there is absolute peace,” he said.
While he has two scripts ready, it is the sets of Ennai Noki Paayum Thotta and a few other acting assignments for Sasikumar after Asuravadham. He plays Dhanush’s brother in the Gautham Vasudev Menon film and says despite the limited screen time, it is an integral character. Ask him if he will ever act in his film and he is quick to give a staunch no. “I will never write stories for myself. I will never act in the films I direct. This is something I decided in my second film. If I direct, I should be noticed as a director.”