Noted Tamil film actor-turned-politician Sarath Kumar believes that young people in India should increasingly enter politics and try to make a difference rather than just complaining about the nation's ills.
"They (students) complain about corruption... Why don't they correct it by taking things into their hands?" Sarath Kumar complained. He was chief guest at the annual convention of the Federation of Tamil Sangams of North America.
At the convention, the actor-politician spoke about his profession and politics. He faced several questions as to why he left the DMK to join the AIADMK at the eleventh hour before the Tamil Nadu assembly elections in May.
His wife Radhikaa, a veteran actress, television producer, and CEO of Radaan Mediaworks, was the other chief guest at the three-day meeting.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q: You changed parties just before elections. Why?
Sarath: There were several reasons. First of all, I am an intelligent and hardworking and productive guy. I have many ideas, which if applied will make a big difference in our state's development and in people's lives.
But I was not given the kind of freedom I would have liked to have. I believe Madam Jayalalithaa (AIADMK general secretary and former Tamil Nadu chief minister) is a great leader and I can do much to our society under her leadership.
Q: In this short time of your association with the AIADMK, have you found any difference in the way the two parties work?
Sarath: This is a coalition government. Logistics worked well for the DMK with alliances. The new government took charge only three months ago and already we can see 'goondaism' coming back in Tamil Nadu. This was not the case under the AIADMK. I strongly believe Madam (Jayalalithaa) will come back to power soon.
Q: Can you explain some of your plans as a politician?
Sarath: I want to work with school and college students in a specific way. I want to meet students and tell them why it is important for them to enter politics and mentor them for politics.
They complain about corruption ... why don't they correct it by taking things into their hands? By 2015 more than half of Indian population will be under 20. We must take advantage of that.
Q: You met with young members of the Tamil community here. What advice do you have for them?
Sarath: They were all very enthusiastic and creative. Many of them obviously were keen on knowing how to get into Tamil movies.
Q: Coming to your acting career, what's your next movie?
Sarath: I'm working with director Gautham Menon, opposite actress Jyothika. The film will be released for Diwali. It has two working titles... "Silandhi" (spider) and "Vilai Uyir Endralum" (Even at the cost of life). It will be my 99th film.
Q: So what's your 100th film going to be?
Sarath: The title is "Thalai Magan" (First Born). I play the role of a journalist. It's an action film giving an insight into how society is moulded by the press these days and what the role of the media should be. It's going to be produced by my wife Radhikaa and Radaan Mediaworks.
Q: Tamil movies, including many of yours, come out as pirated video cassettes, VCDs and DVDs as soon as they are released. Can such piracy be eliminated?
Sarath: This has been a problem for a long time. Unless the thief himself has a change of heart, this will continue. It's unfortunate that so many artists, producers, directors and technicians should lose the money due to them.
Radhikaa: As a policy, we never watch movie on VCD or DVD at home. As a family we go to the theatre and watch movies. If everyone does this, the situation can change. Right now, it's a catch 22 situation.
Q: Talking of teleserials, what made you move to small screen?
Radhikaa: It was in 1994 when it was the peak of my film career that I decided to move to the small screen. I found it very hard because I was not taken seriously...
There was this preconceived notion about actresses that was distasteful to me. But I hung in there and proved that I was going to be here (in the teleserial production industry) for long.
Q: How did you like this New York trip?
Radhikaa: I enjoyed my stay here. This is, in fact, my first trip to New York. It's nice and vibrant!
Q: Any thoughts of making New York the location for your next production?
Radhikaa: Hopefully, some time in the future. But not the next one!