'Making action films was like smuggling. They just exploited a trend'
If that is so, it might have been very difficult for you to act. The movies which made you a super star were extremely violent.
Suresh Gopi. Click here for bigger pic!
Yes. I was passing through a very difficult time in the last three-four years.
How did you land up in that slot? Was it an accident?
I didn't land. The audience just put me in that slot and, somehow, all those films were successful.
So, you fell into a trap. When did you realise that you cannot handle violence any more?
There was a telephone programme called Hello Suresh Gopi on Asianet (a Malayalam television channel) in which I answered phone calls from people. Can you believe, all the callers were small children between three and nineteen. They said they liked my Black Cat commando and police commisisoner roles. They told me they liked all the dialogues of those movies. By dialogues, what they meant was s$@#, bull s$@#, b*!#*~% etc. When they repeated those words, I felt I was taking them off track.
All these films, Commissioner, Kashmeeram and Ekalavyan are positive films. But I found all those small children did not get the intended message. They got only wrong signals. It was then that I changed my mind. Call it a 'revelation', if you will.
Was it a shocking revelation for you?
No, it was not very shocking. I got the feeling earlier too, but I didn't want to take it to a stage where it would become shocking. Yes, I know it was selfishness on my part. But I didn't want to be a part of it. Maybe an artist need not be worried about these aspects. It is not the artist in me who is thinking about these bad influences, but the being in me.
Do you believe you have a responsibility towards society as an artist?
I am worried whether I really belong to the group of people who believe they are responsible to society. Again, selfishness. I do not want to be a man who teaches small children to shout words like s$@# and b*!#*~%.
Some parents called me recently and said, "Please stop using such words in your movies. My child likes you immensely and he thinks whatever you utter in the movies in right and repeats all those words."
Aren't those parents pointing an accusing finger at me? I wanted a solution to this. I do not believe that if I find my solution to this problem, the problem itself will vanish. There are so many people who are willing to take over my roles. I do not care about them. I just do not want to be a part of the group which is a bad influence on the younger lot.
So you decided to put an end to such movies. How many days did it take you to come to this decision?
The very night after the telephone programme itself I decided not to be a part of these kind of movies.
Were you scared that one day your son too would start using those words and actions?
Mmmmm. It is true. And it was in my mind too. I did not want to say it openly, that's all.
Did you ever regret having entered this field instead of pursuing, like you said earlier, what is in your blood -- a career as an IPS officer?
To a certain extent, yes. It is not the question of being well-off. I believe in god and destiny. Had I been an IPS officer, I would not have got the kind of glory that I and my kids enjoy now.
Suresh Gopi with Kanaka. Click here for bigger pic!
You mean material comforts?
Not material comforts. Not at all. Let us call it glory, which includes fame, name and a lot of admirers. I might have got all these and more material benefits if I had married a girl from an extremely rich family. People pay a lot of dowry to have an IPS officer as their son-in-law.
But what I have got now is hard-earned money. I had to 'fight' for every penny. It is made from 24 hours of slogging for 12 years. Let me repeat, I believe in god and destiny. God has decided earlier itself that my life lies in movies. That is why I do not regret it much, only a little. God gave me several chances to fulfil my ambition. I achieved all this enacting the roles of IPS officers only. Every year I get at least one role as an IPS officer.
Do you see God's hands in everything?
I am a staunch believer in God. God is a super being who even decides the amount of air I inhale. I believe that we are just His servants doing what He wants us to. See, you came to Thiruvananthapuram, to my house, and we are talking now. We had fixed the date earlier itself. Had we thought of meeting yesterday, it would not have happened. Sukuvettan (actor Sukumaran) died yesterday. Don't you think it is all destiny?
Had you been an IPS officer in real life, don't you think you would have got to do something for society? Like Seshan did as the chief election commissioner?
I must admit Seshan is one person whom I admire, adulate and.... In my case, I am sure I might not have got this kind of glory if I had been in the police service in real life.
But you could have been able to do something.
Do something? Where are those people who tried to do something for society? I may have to blame democracy once again. Tell me what has happened to Kiran Bedi who tried to do something?
She did a lot and achieved a lot, didn't she?
What about mental comfort? I am for Kiran Bedi and against all those who denied her mental comfort. This democracy did a lot of cruelty to her. When she tried to reform a jail she was kicked out. Where is she now? Can you tell me? Now, how can you talk about her fame? She was a woman who was much talked about once. But you do now know where she is now. I do not know anything about her now.
That was the price she had to pay for 'doing something for the society'. We live not only for the society, but for ourselves too. I believe that I have to think of my family first, then society, and then the country at large.
So, the 'I' comes first?
Yes, the 'I' comes first. The word 'we' is evolved from Is.
You don't mind admitting that you are selfish.
I am selfish. Can you name a single person who is not selfish?
But nobody likes to admit that he or she is selfish.
Everyone is selfish. Every single person. It goes without saying.
Back to your films. It was stunt movies which made you a superstar. How was it like acting in such movies which had mindless violence?
Suresh Gopi with his family. Click here for bigger pic!
Making those films was like smuggling. They just exploited a trend. If there had been a genuine touch in those movies, they might have had a long life. There was no story in those films, just six or seven stunts.
Given a choice, what kind of roles would you like to portray?
I am a peace-loving person who loves his home and family. I like only that kind of films. For example, Bharatham (produced by Mohanlal), Kireedam, Amaram, Thaniavarthanam and many old films like Chemmeen. I want to do such soft roles.
Now I am doing a film called Kaliyattam (by the award-winning, successful young director Jayaraj). Kaliyattam is a Malayalam interpretation of Othello, made with theyam (a dance form) as the backdrop.
What will you do if the viewers of your films and also you fans clamour for more stunt `movies?
I have decided that I will fight (on screen) only if it is absolutely necessary, only if the film has a strong story line. I am not prepared to 'live' if I have to hit someone without rhyme or reason.
Live as an actor, you mean?
Can you think of a life without films?
Oh yes, I can.
What is your role in that life?
I have bought some land, 120 acres of land, in Thirunelli. I know I am indebted to films for that too. Without films, I would not have been able to buy it. Cinema is one thing that made me, made Suresh Gopi. The equation is, cinema plus Suresh G Nair equals Suresh Gopi.
I want to make a jungle out of my land at Thirunelli, I want to have a lot of birds, deer and rabbits there. Deer and rabbit are my favourite animals. There will not be any cages for any of those animals in my land. All of them will be free in my place, free like birds. I can visualise getting up out in the morning on a tractor to work in the fields. Ha! What a wonderful life it would be!
Generally actors say they cannot imagine a life without movies, as movies are very addictive. What is your opinion?
I agree films are addictive. But you should understand one thing: to me money is only secondary. Unless you derive satisfaction out of your work, what is the point in working? Satisfaction is very, very important to me. When it is denied, another other option creeps in, that is to quit the scene. Othello (Kaliyattam) is one work which gave me plenty of satisfaction.
My greatest ambition is to win a state award, a national award and on Oscar entry. Why? There is nothing wrong to have ambitions. When Jayaraj, the creator of Kaliyattam, complimented me lavishly after the shooting got over, I felt I have won the most important award. Compliments from the creator himself. What more do I want? It gave me tremendous satisfaction.
Mohanlal, Mamootty and yourself are called the superstars in Kerala. They are accepted as very good actors, but every now you are bracketed as....
A man from the mainstream cinema.... Who fights...
Don't you feel sad about it?
Yes, I do. But don't think I am complaining. The truth is nobody, no film-maker is trying to open up the talent that is hidden within me. I am not getting opportunities to bring out what is inside me. Of course, Kaliyattam gave me a lot of satisfaction.