Sivakarthikeyan Doss is referred to as many things in Kollywood – a hero, a talented actor and an all-around good guy. But the title that the 31-year-old actor tries hard to shake off is one that touts him as the next Rajinikanth.
“No one can be the next Rajinikanth. Just like how the Earth has only one sun, there can only be one Rajinikanth in the world,” said Sivakarthikeyan during the promotional stop for his latest movie Remo in Kuala Lumpur.
As much as the actor tries to distance himself from comparisons to Rajinikanth, fans swear that they see similarities between the two stars. Perhaps it’s his hair, which oddly resembles Rajini’s famed mane in the 1980s and 1990s.
It also doesn’t help that Sivakarthikeyan does an uncanny impersonation of Rajini, and is often requested to speak like the star at events.
Like Rajini, Sivakarthikeyan also entered the film industry without any family connection in the Indian cinematic world.
It is quite common for Kollywood stars to have actor, director or film producer parents or family members to extend a lifeline into the scene. But Rajini was a bus conductor before he became an actor and Sivakarthikeyan was the winner of a television talent show.
And also like Rajini, his likeability factor is off the charts; fans – from tots to the elderly – dote on him on and off screen.
“It doesn’t do Rajini any justice to compare me to him. But I will say that he is the reason why I am in this industry and that he has paved the way for many actors like myself,” said Sivakarthikeyan.
The actor holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration and a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science, but instead found his career in showbiz after he won Kalaka Povathu Yaaru, a reality competition television show.
He soon began hosting several television game shows and eventually caught the eye of filmmakers. Perhaps that is also why his fans are attached to him – they have seen his steady rise to fame, have been with him through the journey and feel a sense of ownership to his success.
Sivakarthikeyan got his first taste of the silver screen in 2012 when he appeared as a supporting actor alongside Dhanush – who happens to be Rajini’s son-in-law – in 3. The movie was written and directed by Aishwarya R. Dhanush – who is Rajini’s eldest daughter. How serendipitous!
That same year, he appeared in the lead roles in Marina and Manam Kothi Paravai, which each ran for over 100 days in theatres. In 2013, he became a bonafide star when three of his movies – Kedi Billa Killadi Rangga, Ethir Neechal and Varuthapadatha Valibar Sangam – were certified hits that year.
Subsequently, the 2014 Maan Karate – in which he played a karate exponent – and Kaaki Sattai in 2015 that saw him in the role of a police officer, also made huge dents at the box office.
“I want to do clean entertainment movies which you can bring your family and children to watch in theatres. I want my movies to have family entertainment values, and something that families can look forward to during holidays.
“However, there is an added pressure in doing such movies, because we have to be careful with everything that we present. We know that children are watching, so we have to ensure that there isn’t any negativity that would affect them.
“And when I hear that my fans are enjoying my movies with their families in tow, that is a positive reinforcement,” he said.
So far, his formula has worked. Earlier this year, his movie Rajini Murugan earned over RM10mil.
However, pundits predict Remo – which opened in cinemas nationwide last Friday – is slated to be his biggest box office success yet.
He plays dual role in the movie – SK, an aspiring actor, and Regina Motwani, a female nurse. He appears as a woman for at least 60% of the movie. Initially, Sivakarthikeyan was hesitant to take the risk but was talked into it by family and friends. Besides, his fans are quite accepting of his experimental roles.
“Sometimes, you do have to take risks as it can change your status in the industry. Unfortunately, the success of the risk is only measured by money. Return of investment is the only way to see if the movie is a hit or not.
“When we see it that way, we don’t put value to the effort and talent that was poured into the making of the movie. That’s quite a shame,” he said.
Actors Sathyaraj, Prashant and Vikram may have donned full female get ups in their movies, but it is Kamal Hassan’s 1996 Avvai Shanmugi (a remake of Mrs. Doubtfire) that served as an inspiration for Sivakarthikeyan.
“I was nowhere close to perfecting my female role as Kamal did in Avvai Shanmugi, but I tried my best. It was a tedious job transforming into a woman,” said the actor who had to shave twice a day, and undergo body hair waxing and threading every four weeks.
“We couldn’t rely on computer graphics for that. Besides, we had to present a credible look.”
Sivakarthikeyan, who describes himself as an active and restless person on set, had to sit in the makeup chair for four to five hours every day to get the look. If anything, it taught him patience.
“Before Remo, the maximum time I spent on makeup was 20 minutes. But after going through that for over half a year, I realised that patience is necessary if you want to perfect something.”
Apart from during makeup, the only other time one can find Sivakarthikeyan quiet is when he is working on dialogues. Directors approach him to improvise lines.
“I have always been interested in writing and have received positive feedback so far. Let me be clear that I only write lines for the movies that I am acting in. I would find it difficult to write a screenplay and impose my words on other actors,” he said.
“When I do it for my own dialogues in my own movies, I am not putting the pressure on anyone else but me.”
Remo is currently playing at Lotus Five Star Cinemas and other selected cinemas nationwide.