“Relax and let life happen to you” – Siddharth
From the time he walked in to the marquee, he has been pushing the envelope constantly. Actor, screenplay writer, playback singer, cricket commentator, Siddharth seems to be juggling his multiple personalities with little effort but a lot of depth. Nailing the reclusive actor has been one of the most favourite activities of the scribes on this side of Vindhyas.
He’s as intense as they come. Whether it is acting (29 films done and 3 in the making), production (1 Tamil & 1 Telugu) or play back singing (11 films), he’s known to plunge deep into every ocean. It’s all or nothing, no half measures for this perfectionist. But interestingly, acting wasn’t exactly in the game plan of this die hard cricket fan when he was pursuing his M.BA in Mumbai but what do they say about your calling finding you? Seems like, it’s 100% true in his case. His first prized assignment of assisting Mani Rathnam in Kannathil Mutthamittal which also saw him in the uncredited role of a bus passenger led him to Shankar’s `Boys’. And then one film led to another until destiny led the Boy to become Jigarthanda of the nation. It’s been 12 years since his debut, and he has juggled multiple hats but one question, Siddharth is haunted by is his seeming `agelessness.’ Or should we call that reverse ageing? He doesn’t really give a damn what we call that or why we’re so obsessed with his looks. It puts him off no end when he’s constantly complimented for his chocolate boy looks. He looks at us with the `Et tu Brutus?’ expression when we ask him if he has drunk some magic potion. But then, come on, he has no business to defy ageing and look like a 20 something while in his mid 30s, if he can’t answer that question! No siree, he can’t skirt that one and he better come up with a good explanation! So he does. And this is what he comes up with. “I find this question to be the most boring, my most consistently rejected and yet most enduring question about me. The answer remains the same. I don’t think about these things. Age is just a number. I don’t take any care of myself. In fact those close to me point this out to me all the time. I would love to be spoken to about my craft which I work so hard on, as opposed to my looks which I frankly don’t even care about. I love my food, I loathe exercising and my attitude towards vanity and good looks hasn’t changed since I was a boy.” Hmmm, not much story there! But we have to settle for that one considering we cornered him into answering the question he detests with a passion. So what kind of a boy was he when he was well, a boy? Influences, inspirations, anything? “I still am the same kid I was growing up. Curious, stubborn, impulsive, extremely talkative but equally comfortable in my own private space. My parents have always been my friends first. My mother exposed me to love for the movies and music that sustain me today. My dad is responsible for my conservative outlook towards money and success. I am grateful to my parents for being the most amazing inspiration to me in my life,” says Siddharth.
Has luck had anything to do with the turn of events in his life? Or has he shaped his own path? “I am living my dream. I am a 36-year-old who has dabbled in acting, production, singing, writing and I started as an assistant director. I believe this has been possible because of many forces. I have always been a dreamer, always self confident and willing to work hard. I would be fooling myself if I believed that’s all it takes to get where I am. I am blessed, and I have god, the people around me, and yes all the remaining forces that got me here. So yes, luck destiny, god’s grace, some or all of these things are responsible. You can fool yourself into believing you are so important that you can control your own fate. Yes you can work hard, do what you call the right things and be at the right place at the right time. Beyond that, you literally should let life happen to you. Accept your reality. That’s what I would like to say,” the ace actor holds forth.
He’s known to be an intellectual actor. Films or literature, what’s his glass of wine? “I watch films all the time. This has been a habit since I was very young. I love history. I am not a very voracious reader. I make up for that with the documentaries and educational TV programs I watch. I love to read non- fiction when I do get the time. Non fiction excites me. Biographies, history, political commentary are some of my favourite kinds. I like to know that we are constantly repeating what has already happened, so it helps to learn from the past. This also helps to keep me grounded. It’s very easy in this business to think you are special. Truth is you are not. Each of us is a very small speck in the universe. Kindness and compassion are far more important to have as virtues than success and money.”
A business management graduate speaking on esoteric stuff, huh? How much has his education helped him in acting career, we wonder. “My MBA has nothing to do with my process as an actor. It definitely helps me as a producer. Having said that, my education has shaped me as a human being and the people I met during the journey have helped me understand and enjoy the wonderful surprises life has to offer,” he puts it all in perspective. So what are his plans for Etaki Entertainment, his production company? “I want to produce entertaining cinema. I have learnt a lot and taken a lot from this business. This is my way of putting my knowledge to use and giving back. I will prioritize giving opportunities to new talent. At the end of the day, I want to make new age commercial cinema that makes memorable hits, important careers, and hopefully lots of money.” Certainly. We’re sure of that. Talking of the kin dof person he is, Siddharth says, “I am myself off screen. It’s important to keep that persona private in this age of too much information. I pretend for a living. It’s nice to have a secret reality all for myself and my family at the end of the day,” says the enigmatic actor. “My closest friends are still the ones I made before I came here. Over the years I have made some new friends from outside the business. In cinema, I get to make new friends on each project. That’s nice. But lasting friendships are much fewer. Sundar C, Sashikanth, Karthik Subbaraj and Santosh Narayanan are some people I like to believe are close friends,” says the actor.
For a 36 year old who is living his dream, are there any unfulfilled desires? “I have a lot I hope to achieve in my career. I like to try everything. I believe I am because I try. I’m going to try and keep that going for the rest of my life. If I manage that, I would have done nicely with my dreams,” he elucidates. Lovely. So how would he describe his journey so far?
“I’ve wanted to make movies since I was a kid. My favourite dream which is to direct my own pictures is still unfulfilled. I will get there soon hopefully. My journey has been overwhelming. My achievements may be fairly ordinary compared to others but to my family, my friends and I, this career has been a gift. I’ve done it with integrity and not causing any pain to anyone and that’s something I take very seriously,” he says emotionally.
Any roles he dreams about? “I don’t believe in dream roles. We, as a country, have a long way to go before those kind of roles become common. I enjoy playing very casual, day to day characters and making them as convincing as I can. I’m learning every day. I still have a long way to go before being anything significant as an actor. As a producer though, I like all genres and hope to be able to make lots of films that show my company’s depth in script selection. As a film buff, I literally watch everything I can. As an actor, I don’t have much choice so I don’t like to have favourites. I pick the best of what I get.”
We are curious to know who or what he values most in life? “I am alive, sane and working because of the kindness of the people around me. I have got through my worst times because I have had people to support and help me through them. So friendship, empathy and human kindness are everything to me.” That Siddharth was married for a while is not something he has either hidden or flaunted. But his flamboyant high profile relationships ignited the tabloids while they lasted. Soha Ali Khan, Shruti Haasan and then Samantha, he was romantically involved with some of the hottest babes of Tinsel Town. So what was right about them and what went wrong? We ask. We wait. He pretends he didn’t hear that one. So we ask again. And we’re still waiting for his answer while he waits for his Miss Perfect to sweep him off his steady feet. But until then, looks like his lips are sealed! Come on Siddharth, sometimes it’s fun to kiss and tell.