“It’s my first release since ‘Oopiri’ in Telugu which got me huge praise. I had to do something different, something challenging. In ‘Kaashmora’, I think my director Gokul and I have succeeded in creating something unique, something magical. Most important it’s something I haven’t done before. For me, repetition is death,” said Karthi.
Karthi says it would be erroneous to see “Kaashmora” as a costume drama.
“There is only 30 minutes of a period drama in the narrative. In that sense, it is formatted like S.S. Rajamouli’s ‘Magadheera’ which had about 20 minutes of period drama. Yet it’s those 20 minutes that are still spoken about.”
That worried Karthi. He doesn’t quite like the idea of “Kaashmora” being seen as a costume drama. “In Indian cinema ‘epic’ means period dramas. In that sense, I wouldn’t like it be known as ‘epic’. There is much more to what we have done here.”
“The majority of screen space in ‘Kaashmora’ is occupied by my other character Raj Nayak. We have worked really hard on creating a hero who is not only different from all the characters I’ve played so far, but is also a step ahead for the cult of heroism in Tamil cinema.”
The actor, who started with a walk-on part in 2004 in “Aaytha Ezhuthu” and shot to to fame with “Paruthiveeran” in 2007, recalls with great pleasure the moment when “Kaashmora” was offered to him.
“Director Gokul who has been a dubbing artiste in the past, enacted both the roles of Kaashmora and Raj Nayak for me. Watching him play the two characters I realised this was a film I had to do at any cost. The script is so fascinating.”
“It blends horror, black magic, action and comedy without breaking its spine in carrying the burden of different genres.”
The toughest part was playing the bloodthirsty warrior Kaashmora for which Karthi had to prepare for many months and beef up his physique.
“This character is basically into blood and women. Because he spends so many hours on the battle field killing and maiming people, he needs an outlet. Hence, the women.”
However, the violent womaniser had to be portrayed without much violence and sex on screen.
“We couldn’t show him indulging in his passions on screen. That would have driven the younger audiences away, and alerted the censor board to the adult content. We avoided that. We wanted ‘Kaashmora’ to be a family film for Diwali. The gore and the sex are given the miss.”
Speaking of Diwali, there is much brouhaha in the Tamil press about Karthi taking on Dhanush this Diwali. His film came out on the same Friday as Dhanush’s “Kodi”.
“In reality, I am not in competition with any other actor except myself. ‘Kaashmora’ will be compared with my last release ‘Oopiri’. That scares me a bit. In ‘Kaashmora’, I am nothing like what I was in ‘Oopiri’. I hope that’s a good thing,” said Karthi.
What really troubles Karthi are the comparisons with Rajamouli’s “Baahubali”.
“Fortunately or unfortunately, ‘Baahubali’ has become a benchmark for all historical-costume dramas. After we had shot about 40 per cent of the film, ‘Baahubali’ released. We had to go back to the drawingboard and re-work the period scenes, making sure that we don’t go excessively over-budget. That’s why I said we have ensured there is only 30 minutes of periodicity in ‘Kaashmora’.”
Karthi has no immediate plans of doing a Hindi film.
“Bejoy Nambiar had offered me ‘Shaitaan’ some years ago. But I wasn’t confident about my Hindi. I am still not. But Bejoy says I can’t keep saying no to him.”