: Inian | Camera : Balaji | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
When did Kanden
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
Karthik is a spontaneous actor
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.
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
Vikram is like an elder brother to
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.
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.
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
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
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
Mani sir is full of energy
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.