It’s almost 11 in the morning, and actor Siddharth is getting ready to head out to see first-hand reactions to his latest release, director Sasi’s Sivappu Manjal Pachai, co-starring GV Prakash Kumar and Lijomol Jose. The film was originally slotted to release on September 6, but had to push back due to various reasons, and when Enai Nokki Paayum Thota pulled out, SMP was back in the race. “We got the screens we wanted, are releasing in 300-plus screens in Tamil Nadu, and get a two-week window. Now, the film has to speak,” says Siddharth.
The actor is not known to gush over every film of his, but for some time now, has been speaking of why he’s bullish about this film. “It’s not gimmicky, not experimental, and is a well-made commercial, family-oriented film. That is Sasi Sir’s strong point. He’s made a film that reflects real life, middle class values and lifestyles, with his conventional signature. What he’s done differently is the pacing and action. He wants to cater to both his regular audience as well as the young crowd,” he tells Silverscreen.
One thing that works well for the film is that at its core are two things familiar in everyday life — bike racers and a traffic cop. “Bike racing is a trending topic right now, and the film is set on the road, hence it’s title. When I watched it before release, I felt it was a complete film, and I felt good having done a film in the family genre after a gap,” says Siddharth.
A lot is being said about lead actress Lijomol Jose, who follows her illustrious predecessors from the Malayalam industry. “The film has a strong moral core because of Sasi Sir’s strength of writing strong female characters. It is not a boy fest. Both sides get represented beautifully. Lijomol is spectacular, such a find. She’s beautiful as a performer, and adds to the emotional core,” says the actor, who was last seen in the Netflix series Leila.
The film sees both very contrasting performers — Siddharth and GV Prakash Kumar — play against their grain too. Siddharth is a traffic cop, and he says getting into shape for the role was just about exercise, but getting under the skin of the character took some effort. “You can’t overplay in a Sasi film. There’s a fine balance between theatrics and reality. Plus, a lot of the film was shot in life traffic, where you have to be the traffic cop, rather than pretend to be one. This is a space the two of us have not been in before as actors.”
We speak again in the afternoon, when Siddharth sounds happy that people seem to be receiving the film the way it is meant to. “I wanted to see the response to crucial scenes, where they clap, cry, or smile… The audience left the theatre with a smile, like I expected them to,” says the actor who is also on board Shankar’s Indian 2.