Simbu: I won’t do a film like ‘Vallavan’ in today’s times

Ahead of the release of ‘Maanaadu’, Simbu discusses his physical-mental transformation and why he has evolved both as an actor and person

Silambarasan aka Simbu’s career hit a pause when whispers about his unprofessionalism came to surface. As the whispers grew louder, with some producers even asking for compensation for losses incurred, Simbu felt he hit the rock bottom. The accusations and name-calling accumulated so much that Simbu says he didn’t know how to manage or even come out of the pitfall that he created.

The journey turned out to be a long-term project than a quick fix.

In an industry where issues related to mental health are either brushed aside or lack sensitivity, Simbu is a rare Tamil cinema star who has been vocal about what he went through. Starting out as a child actor in his father T Rajendar’s films, Simbu admits that it was a low-point in his long career that only caused damage.

He describes that phase as his “lockdown”, quite literally. “I didn’t feel like coming out of the house and interacting with people. In spite of all that, I was acting and was trying to socialise with people,” says Simbu, dressed in a olive green V-neck t-shirt, during a press interaction ahead of his upcoming film Maanaadu.

Back in the game

  • Simbu went through a drastic physical transformation last year, losing nearly 27 kilos. Lockdowns are when Simbu got the breathing time to schedule his day. “In the past, I have put on and lost weight for my character [like in Silambattam]. But once you hit 30, your body doesn’t listen to you,” he says. Simbu switched to liquid diet, in addition to a fitness regimen that included working out and playing sports such as tennis, cricket and basketball. “My body couldn’t take it for the first two weeks and I struggled a lot. But that is something you should overcome.”

The actor turned to spirituality to come out that place. “Now that I am finally out, I believe my potential will reflect in my work.”

The realisation of having swam his way through was what happened recently when Simbu become emotional at the audio launch of Maanaadu. He made a dramatic statement, addressing his fans and well-wishers: “I will take care of my problems, you take care of me.”

Simbu says he tried controlling his pent-up emotions, but he couldn’t. “Even for this film [Maanaadu], there was a lot of problems from the start. We started shooting it and then it was dropped, and we started again. The film, my weight loss journey and the pandemic — all of this affected me when I went on stage,” he says.

Set against a political backdrop, Maanaadu (Campaign) is about the concept of time loop, where the characters are trapped in a series of events that repeat themselves. But Simbu clarifies that the film isn’t overly political. Nor is he worried if audiences would understand such a high-concept.

Simbu | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

In fact, what drew him towards Maanaadu was how simplified the concept has been presented by its director, Venkat Prabhu. “It is about a normal guy getting caught in this time loop [like Edge of Tomorrow and Source Code]. Though the scenes repeat, you will see something new. That is what Venkat Prabhu has done, in a commercial way.”

For Simbu, it was as much a journey of self-discovery as it was spiritual. In due course, he says he learnt a lesson or two; and how he has evolved as an actor-person. Which is why Simbu says he won’t do a film like Vallavan in today’s times. “I was a boy then and hence acted in such commercial films. I have come out of that zone now. Cinema too has changed. Audiences are watching all sorts of content and they are no longer liking the cinema thanam,” he says, adding, “We need to cater to what today’s audiences want. For that, you will have to work with directors who are doing that.”

Simbu has been talking to young filmmakers, although nothing has been finalised yet. In the next one year, he wishes to stay committed to his acting projects.

“I like the zone I am in right now…it’s peaceful. I need this space for me.”

Maanaadu releases in theatres on November 25.

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