Munna
Interviewer : Inian | Camera : Balaji | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar
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ACTOR MUNNA
Actor Munna who has done a few films in Tamil got noticed in Kanden Kadhalai. He is the Sakkarai in Mani Ratnam’s Raavanan. He is sharing his experiences of having shot for the most anticipated film of the year with behindwoods.com.
How do you feel now?

Everybody will be anxious to see Raavanan. Even I am waiting for its release on the 18th June. It is a wonderful movie to watch. I will be sharing my experience working with Mani sir, Vikram anna, Ash M’am, Prithiviraj, Priya Mani, Karthik sir, Prabhu sir with behindwoods viewers.

Is Munna your real name?

My real name is Kenny Simon. Munna is my pet name and I am called by that name right from when I was two years old. It is a very sweet name and I wish to be everyone’s sweet boy. In Raavanan shooting spot, whenever Mani sir used to address Vikram as Kenny, I used to turn around. I have even told Vikram anna that Kenny is my real name too.


I wish to be everyone’s sweet

boy


About your family?


My dad Simon Thomas is a lawyer in Kerala. My mom is a housewife. My younger brother Dominique is doing M.Sc in visual communications in SRM College. I got married recently to Betty Mary from Trichur. She used to work in Chennai before, not anymore. By profession, I am a physiotherapist. I studied in Kerala and worked in Devaki hospital, Mylapore for one year.

What made you choose film world?

I come from a filmi background. My perimma is actor Jayabharathi. Although it was my ambition to enter film world, my aunt insisted that I complete my formal education so that I would have some thing to fall back on if necessary. I followed her directions, completed my education, worked for some time, collected the relevant certificates and then I tried my luck in the film world. It has been a long journey and I am here for the past 7 years. Raavan will be my biggest film.



Raavanan is my dream come true

film

About the films that you have done?

I have done Silandi, Unnai enakku pidichirukku. I have done as a hero in two Malayalam films. Recently I did Kanden Kaadalai as a second hero. But Raavanan is my dream come true film. To act in Mani sir’s film is something very big for any actor. I consider myself very lucky to act in his film at an early stage in my career and that too with a big star cast. I am very happy about it.


How did Kanden Kadhalai happen?

I played Gautham in KK. The offer came when I was shooting for Raavanan. Director Kannan who is Mani sir’s student was scouting for the second hero in KK when he saw me. I had tonsured my head completely and had grown a handlebar moustache then. I told Kannan that it would take sometime for hair to grow. But he said that the issue can be managed and that’s how I landed myself in KK. I had seen the Hindi version of the film and understood the importance of Gautham’s role. The film had received good reviews and everyone liked it. And now, you are going to watch me in Raavanan.

About your character in Raavanan

I am Sakkarai in Raavanan. It is a very interesting character. I play the youngest brother of Vikram sir and Prabhu sir. I am a part of two songs in the film. I sport two get ups in Raavanan. I am there in the film from the beginning to the end and at one point I will be very important in the film. I am very thankful to Mani sir for giving me this opportunity. The role of sakkarai in my


I sport two get ups in Raavanan

career will be very important. Usually Mani sir’s films are known for short dialogues but in Raavanan, they run into pages. I got my dialogues one month before I went to shoot. Every actor in Raavanan had lengthy dialogues. I am not sure if this has got anything to do with Suhasini madam. We had many rehearsals and practice sessions. I look totally different in the film. People will not be able to recognize me even if I am standing next to them. I should also thank all the assistant directors because they helped me a lot in improvising my skills. Mani sir used to act out and expect us to demonstrate the same in front of the camera. It was a great experience.

When did Kanden Kadhalai happen?

After four months of shooting for Raavanan, I got the offer in Kanden Kadhalai. Kannan sir checked with Mani sir about my performance and other details and then booked me.



Karthik is a spontaneous actor

Experience working with Karthik

It was an amazing experience with Karthik sir. The first day I met him was at 5 in the morning in Kerala. He was ready at such an early hour with complete make up. He was a complete professional. He does not take much time with his dialogues. Assistant directors will read it a couple of times and that’s about it. He would bring in a new dimension to the character in front of the camera. Karthik is a spontaneous actor. Even when I did not have to shoot, I would stay there and watch everyone performing. Karthik really floored me with his performance.

Do you think Raavanan will receive awards?
Raavanan is sure to get national award. And not only national, the film will be spoken at an international level.



Raavanan is sure to get

national award




Vikram is like an elder brother to

me

What about Vikram?

AVikram Anna is certain to get a national award. I call him anna because of the bond that we share. Vikram is like an elder brother to me. He has worked so hard for this film. It is very difficult to witness such a dedication from any artist. He is very careful about what he used to eat while shooting. Every two hours, he would exercise, do push ups. In the film we all appear very dark. Mani sir does not like much make up and hence Vikram anna would apply oil on his entire body, sit near the water fall in the hot sun to get tanned. That’s the dedication he has towards his profession. Vikram is undoubtedly a great actor.

Hardships during shooting

The film was shot in a very rough weather for most part. We used to get up as early as 4 in the morning and sometimes the shoot will go on till 3 the next morning. All the artists have worked very hard.
Priyamani, Prithviraj…

Although Priyamani has a small role, she has done her job very well. Prithviraj is very stylish. I can go on and on but that would be like revealing too much. All that I can say is I am very happy to be associated with such a prestigious project and I am after all a small rock in a big mountain.



I am after all a small rock

in a big mountain


Unforgettable incident during the shoot...

Once we were shooting in Kerala in Athirapally falls area. There was an elephant which was part of the shoot. Basically it was a friendly one and I used to feed him with idlis and such food items. It was a trained elephant. One afternoon, I found the caretaker under the influence of alcohol, was beating the elephant with a stick and when enquired, he did not give a proper answer but continued beating the animal. I felt very sad for the elephant. That evening around 4.30, we were all shooting and at a distance of around 50 feet, we suddenly heard a very weird noise. When we turned around, to our utter horror and shock, we saw the elephant piercing his tusks into the man’s heart who was hanging and it was an instant death for him. After killing the caretaker, the elephant had trampled the man under his feet and it was a horrible scene. Then the elephant was walking towards us and we all ran for our lives. Only Vikram anna walked like a true hero. We all reached a guest house in the forest and were trapped in it till 3.30 the next morning. After killing the man, the elephant had become very violent. Hence we were not allowed out of the guest house. We were very hungry and I ran to a nearby tea shop and fetched 120 eggs and 20 loaves of bread. That was the only food we had. It was raining and all of us – ash m'am, abi sir, mani sir, vikram anna- sat together and had whatever was available. That’s when I felt the unity and solidarity of the team. Then, the forest authorities took us back to our hotel rooms with police security around 3 in the morning. This was an unforgettable incident for all of us.

Are you a spy in Raavanan?

No, I am a very nice boy and in my entire family, I am the only learned person. I studied up to 12th. I myself don’t know the story and am waiting for the 18th to see it. I am eager to see how I have come on the screen. One thing I can say is I look very very different.



Mani sir is full of energy

About Mani Ratnam

In a recent interview Ash M’am had said that we all get up every day (while shooting for Raavanan), freshen up only to get dirty all over again in the shoot. That’s what happened. We had really roughed it out and the credit for bringing the best from us goes to Mani sir. I have not seen such a dedicated director in my career. Mani sir is full of energy and is totally immersed in his work. I hope that Mani sir’s and Vikram anna’s hard work will really fetch good results.

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