Swamy says Kadal’s director Mani Ratnam has been a ‘great inspiration’ for him. Image Credit: Supplied

“Just waking up from my hibernation,” reads Arvind Swamy’s twitter profile.

Yes, the ‘Roja’ actor, a heartthrob in the ’90s, is back after a hiatus of 12 years.

Mani Ratnam, who discovered the actor, has been instrumental in bringing him back to the celluloid world with a role in his upcoming bilingual film, ‘Kadal (Tamil) and ‘Kadali’ (Telegu).’

From the trailers of ‘Kadal,’ it appears that Swamy plays a priest.

Despite the years that have rolled on since Roja’s release in 1992, the actor still evoked images of Rishi, the cryptologist from ‘Roja.

“I quit after ‘Alaipayuthe,’ he tells tabloid!.

“ I was 30 then, and had enjoyed my work in films. I wanted to take a break and experience other things in life.”

Swamy also had his business to take care of. Unfortunately, in the next few years he was confined to bed following an accident that resulted in a spine injury.

“It was a silly mishap that turned into a big thing. During those four to five years of recuperating I did not think of films at all.”

Once he recovered, Ratnam called and suggested they do a film together.

“He scolded me, saying ‘you can’t let yourself go like this’,” says the father of two, with a smile.

With Ratnam’s motivation, Swamy worked on getting back into shape.

“Mani was clear; my role had to be something important as it marked my return.”

“Kadal is a different film, raw and earthy with a complex story. It is a multi-layered story with many dimensions to my character,” says the Bombay star, without revealing much about his character.

Prod him and he adds, “I can assure you that Mani’s characterisation is rich and diverse. It is interesting. Don’t go with expectations though. This is not a film like ‘Roja,’ it is a different genre.”

Is he playing a priest as revealed in ‘Kadal’s trailers?

Swamy smiled.

How was it facing the camera after a long break?

“I was nervous initially. I had agreed to do the role but was plagued with self doubts. ‘Roja’ and ‘Bombay’ were hits. I wondered whether I would be able to deliver the touches I had given before. Will I be able to get into the zone and essay my role confidently?”

“It is easy to debut, your mistakes are forgiven. But now expectations were high and I had my apprehensions.”

But on landing on the sets the first day, all self-doubts were ironed out.

“I warmed up soon,” recalls Swamy.

“The crew members were people with whom I had worked earlier, right from Mani and Rajeev Menon. I got comfortable.”

According to the buzz, Swamy’s performance in ‘Kadal’ has brought offers from other directors.

“I have been warmly welcomed on my return to the industry. Yes, there have been offers. I do wish to do something more, but can’t do too many films. I have my business to handle,” explained the CEO and MD of Talent Maximus, India’s largest payroll processing company.

Films had never been on his mind, says Swamy.

“After my graduation, I was interning at my dad’s company. Around this time I also got into modelling for extra pocket money.”

Ratnam saw one of his ads and called him for an audition.

“While in college, I would attend auditions for college plays, just to be exempted from classes and tests. Invariably, I failed at those auditions.”

Clearing Ratnam’s auditions turned the course of Swamy’s life.

“When Mani called to say that I had to leave town in two weeks time for shooting, I was caught unprepared. Moreover, I had not told my parents about the auditions.”

On Swamy’s request Ratnam met his parents and the rest as they say is history. Post ‘Roja,’ Swamy went to the US for his Masters in International Business.

“While Dalapathi introduced me into films, ‘Roja’ was a great learning experience.”

‘Bombay,’ was another milestone in his career. Rajeev Menon’s ‘Minsaru Kanavu,’ was a box office hit that won many awards including four national awards. Malayalam film, ‘Devaraagam,’ was another poignant story that exploited Swamy’s talent.

“I love everything about [Ratnam]. He was the one who saw something in me that I did not know existed and believing in me, he gave me a platform.”

“My thought structures have been influenced by him. I have imbibed several things in my life and my business merely by observation of Mani; his dedication to work, his ability to work in adverse conditions and to work with limited resources. He has been a great inspiration. ”

With ‘Kadal,’ hitting the screens, is he nervous?

“Not at all. I am excited. Once a film is done, it is over. It is Mani’s vision. Finally it is the public’s opinion. We hope they will like what we liked. These things are beyond our control.”

Not many know that this businessman and actor is a great cook, a flair he picked up from his family cook as a little boy.

“For my children I prepare continental dishes,” reveals Swamy.

“I don’t look at recipes and cook, nor do I measure ingredients with a spoon. I use my fingers. I don’t make good desserts though, my daughter makes them good.”

When time permits, he enjoys painting and playing chess, a game he learnt from his mother during childhood.

“Chess came to my rescue during those days when I was confined to bed.”

With the conversation veering to his children, Swamy says, “The kids have not seen my films. I restricted them from watching as I did not want them to grow thinking that their father was an actor and a star.”

But his daughter happened to watch ‘Roja’ on TV.

“She was crying watching me get beaten in few scenes. Since then she has not wanted to see any of my films.”

“But ‘Kadal,’ we will watch it together.”


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Kadal releases in the UAE today.