After years, Tamil comedian Santhanam will play the lead in Vallavanukku Pullum Aayudham (For a Shepherd even Grass is a Weapon). His love interest will be the Mumbai girl, Ashna Zaveri, who will debut with the film.
There is little doubt that Santhanam is a great actor, and along with his dashing good looks, he was slotted in witty roles in film after film. But a point came when his performances began to appear jadedly repetitive.
Modelling himself on the late Thangavelu, Santhanam (who may disagree with this), invariably essayed the hero’s side-kick or sounding-board. Thangavelu’s understated comedy -- lines said with admirable restraint and with a straight face – was extremely sophisticated in a cinema which flaunted buffoonery and crassness, naively believing that this was what produced the laughs!
Santhanam copied Thangavelu's formula, but then if it started to totter, it was also because he was sometimes better looking than the hero, and sometimes several shades ahead in the performance graph.
It took a while for the Tamil movie industry to realise Santhanam’s potential, but well, now with Vallavanukku Pullum Aayudham on the floors, his fans can hope to watch some splendid acting on the screen.
Officially he began with Manmadhan in 2004 (though he did a couple of films before that where he did not get any credit). It was in Lollu Sabha where he was acclaimed as a funny man, and then in movie after movie, his parts remained essentially and boringly similar.
Vallavanukku Pullum Aayudham, helmed by Srinath, is slated for a 2014 release. Santhanam says audiences will see a new avatar of his in this film. Like the legendary Hollywood witty men, Gene Kelly, Charlie Chaplin and Jerry Lewis, who enriched their humour with a dash of meaningfulness, Santhanam hopes to inject into his new role some sense and sensibility.
The Tamil actor is not planning to give up on his comedy in a hurry. However, his future performances as the tickle-man might have something more than silly lines. “I would want my characters to be weightier than what they have been in the past”, he quips.