Simha is proud of this fact. And true to character, he growls ever so often about how he likes staying away from the crowd. We see him tell one interviewer after another that he has a lot of things in common with Sethu.
The scribes squirm. Some even move away.
Thankfully though, we are made of sterner stuff. “I don’t know why they become silent when I tell them that,” Bobby turns to us, sounding perplexed. “obviously, I am not referring to the violent aspects of Sethu’s character, but his reserved side.”
Purinjikave maatengarangale, he complains.
Bobby Simha is wearing a deep blue shirt. And, shoes. He seems quite fond of them. New, he gestures with a huge grin. We duly compliment him on the style. “I was nominated for the most stylish villain category at a recent awards event. It was for my Vatti Raja role. I wanted to attend it, but I didn’t have the required documents. If I’d gone, Vidyut Jammwal would have gotten some serious competition, don’t you think?” He smiles cheekily.
Bobby is quite nonchalant about all the fame and adulation. Even the awards to an extent. “Not that recognition doesn’t matter,” he begins, “but mine is a hard-fought battle, and I am definitely going to enjoy the rewards. My point is, it is not a priority right now. Recognition is good, only because it will get me more films.”
There’s also the flip side to fame that he addresses. The audience have already begun drawing comparisons. With Vijay Sethupathi and the rest of the Soodhu Kavvum team, some of whom are heroes in their own right. “We are friends first!” Bobby exclaims vehemently. “We may come up against each other at the box office, but we try hard not to let that affect our relationship. These comparisons aren’t helping, though.”
[quote align=’left’]”‘Sethu thotha padam thotha maadhiri, appuram naan thothen’, this is what Karthik had told me. And that’s when I realised it was a huge responsibility. I had to get it right. Several things were at stake.”[/quote]Having said that though, there is one comparison that he cannot seem to get enough of. The one that draws similarities between his idol Rajinikanth, and Assault Sethu. As a boy, Bobby breathed Rajini movies, so this is a compliment of the highest order. “Almost every review of Jigarthanda had a line that said my mannerisms and even the way I spoke was like Thalaivar. I didn’t know how to react!” he declares.
And unsurprisingly, it was this love for the Superstar which got him his break. Karthik Subbaraj, the man he calls his ‘best friend’ is a ‘big time Rajini veriyan’, and so is his family. “That’s how we became friends,” he tells us solemnly. “Every time a Thalaivar movie releases, they celebrate it like a wedding or a thiruvizha. I love that attitude. It’s no surprise that we are close friends, right?”
Of course, this friendship wasn’t the sole reason Bobby got to play Sethu. “Karthik will never do me favours because I’m a friend. In fact, when I told him I’d like to play Sethu, he wasn’t convinced and refused me outright. He thought Vijay Sethupathi would do a better job.” This was way back in 2011, much before Pizza – when Jigarthanda was called Padam and Bobby was only a film old. But he persevered, and his subsequent stints in Neram and Soodhu Kavvum helped him bag the ‘role of his dreams’. “I had three years of love for Sethu…I would have done anything to get it.”
Bobby can still vividly recall the time when Karthik took him aside for a little chat. “‘Sethu thotha padam thotha maadhiri, appuram naan thothen’, this is what Karthik had told me. And that’s when I realised it was a huge responsibility. I had to get it right. Several things were at stake.”
Of course, he got it quite right, for his performance was vastly appreciated by the audience and critics. Aspiring actors ask him for advice these days, he says. Something he’s not too comfortable with. [quote align=’right’]”Ippo kooda muttai vaanga enna thaan anuppuvaanga…no special treatment for Sethu at home.”[/quote]“I’m not a methodic actor, so I won’t be able to explain. Sethu sethu sethu nu yosichen…sethu va aayitten.” Bobby didn’t carry a mobile phone with him for the duration of the shoot. “Whatsapp, Facebook – so many distractions. Acting is not easy when you add all this to the mix. Unnecessary mayhem. So I disconnected myself from it all.” This has become standard practice for him these days. On shooting days, he is rarely available, sometimes even to this family. And on the days that he’s off, he makes do with a normal phone. “It’s not a smart phone by the way. It is a dumb one,” he jokes.
Praise for Jigarthanda has not died down yet, though Bobby tells us it will soon. He doesn’t like resting on his laurels and is already working hard on his next project, Urumeen. “I rested enough during the time when we were fighting to release the film. So much stress and it all led to weight gain. I’m planning to hit the gym soon to get fit for the next role.”
Urumeen is directed by yet another friend of his – Sakthivel Perumalsamy – the film is about a young man who’s new to the city and finds himself in trouble right away. Around thirty percent of the shooting is already over and Bobby is satisfied with its progress.
He’s also rumoured to be a part of Karthik’s next Iraivi. “I always want to stay with Karthik through thick and thin. Even if I’m not acting in his next movie, there will be a part of me in it in some way.”
For now, the self-confessed loner passes time by playing with his much adored niece. It’s very obvious that Bobby is very much under her thumb. “She’s seen the film, once but it doesn’t matter much to her. She sees me only as the uncle who can be cajoled into getting her chocolates and expensive toys.”
Things are a little different these days when he ventures out in his Lancer. “People recognise me and stop to talk to me. I like this life.”
There’s no improvement on his home front, though. “Ippo kooda muttai vaanga enna thaan anuppuvaanga…no special treatment for Sethu here. Oru popular nadigarnra respect illa inga,” he jokes.
But knowing Bobby, he probably wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Bobby Simha Interview is a Silverscreen exclusive.