Karthik Kumar quits cinema

Karthik Kumar quits cinema

Actor Karthik Kumar of Alaipayudhey, Yaradi Nee Mohini and Kola Kolaya Mundhirika fame has announced that he is quitting cinema.

He has revealed this decision of him in a lengthy Facebook post, titled ‘Confessions of a failed actor’. Here we present it, unedited.

“19 Feature films later I’m finally stopping – I’m not going to seek out more work in Cinema as an actor… its time to hang those boots, for good, or for a long while… either way they gotta come off now!
Going to shoot for my 19th Feature – a cute comedy drama by a director whose tone of comedy is much enjoyable… I’m going through the charades of haggling with production, dates juggling, begging for bound script and dance master fearing… the usual!

But I’m pausing to reflect… its been a journey that i am grateful for – finding work in the film industry as an independent, one who has no previous connection to cinema, through blood or privilege, is in itself quite a task! And to have done 19 is much surprising! Main Leads, Comic Lead, Second lead, Negative Lead, Guest Roles, Supporting characters… Drama, Comedy, Horror, Rom Coms, Social… Tamizh, English, Tanglish, Hindi… Big budget commercial, small budget commercial, inde, Festival releases…

Truth be told – i succeeded in finding work – i didn’t have to do the dance of courting directors, ‘hanging out’, socialising, party presence etc… i still found work! So i can’t complain that i didnt ‘fit’ in…
Truth be told – i sold myself short… i was always mildly better than my roles and their scope, and the pay that came with it…

In my first feature as a Main Lead- a lot was expected of me… much more than i expected of myself – there was an air of anticipation of finding the next Arvind Swamy, the next Madhavan etc… like there was a stereotype whose boxes i had to check and get into the cookie cutter! I started resisting that mentally from day one… but that only made my life more difficult… i wanted to be cast in the negative lead – what i got was the chocolate boy romantic hero…

I set myself up for a fall, when i accepted the part coz i told myself ‘its a feature film! who gets a feature film offered to them! its something! grab it!’… I had Cine managers signing me up for the potentially long list of such roles that i could be attracting thereafter.

I hated everything about the readiness of it all… like i was going to dive into a pattern already laid out neatly… i could have said NO!
Would that have meant i would have stopped trying? NO!
Would it have meant it could become difficult to find another opportunity? Maybe.

Would i be out of work? Yes.
Would i have become harder and tougher? Yes!
But I didn’t… i Accepted! I fell…

I did a neat role in that film –  i was ‘into’ my part… i struggled to find the arc, found it and tried to maintain it… i even danced and did those ‘cinema’ bits… every line given to me, corny or strange, i internalised and delivered… to me all that was original – but to everyone else it seemed like i was a pretender… coz i was being compared to the earlier cookies…

I didn’t find work for a long time after… coz i hadn’t done well as a high grade chocolate boy… Ironically i wasn’t seeking another Lead role… but i could be offered no less, according to the stereotypists…
The next stage was dictated by the Industry mantra – Either give a hit, or be a part of a hit film… either way you’ll hear the word ‘Hit’ a lot… coz if u don’t – you lie in the dark long shadows of a Miss!

I did a Second lead – for me it was a character – i got ‘into’ it and loved that process… and to this day thats the only stage of the process that i have truly enjoyed… figuring the notes and then playing them…

The film was a moderate Hit – and i was pitched as the second hero…
I was eager to have people reflect on my acting job – and i loved the fact that the portrayal had very few false notes…

No one did – they saw me as the Second Hero – the lower hero in the caste cast system! I was told i had settled for less… i was craving an objective analysis as an actor! I wasn’t even being seen as one… a new Cookie mould emerged!

I found it difficult to find another film for a long time again…
By this time my ‘value’ had been pegged by the industry – good actor, no hangups, nice looking, theatre background, asks for script, not expensive… sounds reasonable? Nope – this is an alarm of disaster… it means you are ready and willing to be taken for a happy cheap mighty disrespectful ride…

Many of my comrades from Theatre get treated disrespectfully – this doesnt mean we get treated badly… it means we don’t get treated well or as equals… our time and value will be hugely compromised under the promise and veil of a ‘good role’ ‘ character’ etc…

Our need to find that special acting fix brings us to the honey – and then we get captured… in the myriad ways of assistant directors, executive producers etc… we will get smiled at – but thats about it… your last payments won’t come in… your dates will be booked and unbooked at will… and your scene won’t even be shot, leave alone being edited out…

I sold myself short – plenty! I accepted ‘good roles’ hoping to break out of ‘hero’ mold etc for not much pay… and i did this many times… the only consolation was i worked with good teams – teams with decent reputations and mostly those i could hold a lunchtime conversation over on cinema and such…

But i refused to realise that i was settling for less – less value, less respect, less money where the mouth should be… more fluff than material! I knew in my heart, i was better than what i was accepting… My bad!

And in this journey I’ve had the most people letting me down – people i thought were friends, believers and such… who drop you like a hot cake when the signal changes…

But how can anyone believe in you if you don’t believe in yourself? 🙂 Its not their fault – its yours!

Its mighty valuable to have someone believe in you and create a ‘vehicle’ for you etc – but in the absence of that, its you who has to be that Believer in you… its you!

Today I’m stopping…
Why am i stopping?

Coz i ran out of hunger… hunger in Cinema is largely Hope! Hope of something better, different and plentiful tomorrow…
But the path I’m running is wrong… its better to stop running than run the wrong race!

Im stopping coz i KNOW I’m better than the race I’m running – I’m stupid to believe that i stayed in the race long enough to have people see potential in me… its my job to understand my potential… and respect it first!

Im hanging up my boots – maybe the wind will change… or the world will move on… but either way its time i stand my ground -and refuse to do any lesser than i would like to…

And for now… I’m unavailable as an actor, to myself even – coz iv hurt myself for too long… and in that process allowed everyone else to do the same…

Being on Mani sir’s set, Discussing Art with PC sir, Arvind from KNM, Nandu from Chaurahen, Fighting for value for my character Seenu in YNM against a Dhanush, the most heartfelt selfish Uppili in PSP, negative roles in NI and EN, doing Crazy Mohan in KKM, and being in love in Veppam, and a fallible real parent in P2… i did pretty well! But I’m a failure…

I failed to see that i should have asked for more… i failed to believe in myself… i failed as a Film actor because of Me!
Love you Cinema – till (and if) we meet again… “