Interview Tamil

Maanaadu actor Silambarasan TR opens up on drinking problem, weight issues

The actor, who has conquered his demons, is eagerly awaiting the release of his comeback film, which is a time-loop thriller.

Haricharan Pudipeddi

Today, Silambarasan TR is a reformed man, and he has no qualms admitting he had absolutely no control over his life a couple of years ago. Once plagued by weight issues and multiple complaints about showing up late to shoots, he has quite literally turned his life around.

As the actor gears up for the release of the upcoming Tamil film Maanaadu, a time-loop thriller, is it fair to call it a big comeback? Silambarasan nods in agreement, saying, “I’m a different person today. I’m clearer in the head, and I’m aware of the expectations that people have of me. This definitely feels like a comeback because I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing how audiences will receive me in this transformed avatar.” 

A lot has changed in Silambarasan’s career in the past two years. He has lost nearly 27 kg quit alcohol and non-veg. For someone who tasted fame as a child actor and was bestowed the moniker Little Superstar, it was too much to handle. “I had my shot at fame very early on in my career. At a time when most people my age were busy clubbing and having fun with friends, I was busy working in movies. I've been working from a very young age and when I reached a point where I was stuck with what I was doing, I got into drinking, and before I knew it, I was stuck in a shell. I assumed I could get out of this phase easily but never thought I'd be stuck so miserably. I had to get out of this mentally, and the lockdown helped me turn my life around,” he recalled. 

One of the major issues he had to deal with was managing his weight. “I had put on weight for a role and thought I could lose all of it. What was shocking for me is that when an actor reduces weight for a character, people laud his efforts but not when he gains weight for the same purpose. I've always wondered why actors are targeted for putting on weight for a character. Audiences need to be more considerate towards actors who go through such drastic transformations,” he said. 

Silambarasan has now gained more confidence. “More than people around me starting to take me seriously, the transformation helped me build my own confidence. It helped me pick better scripts and not hurriedly make any major decision,” he said.

The artiste added that spirituality helped him gain control of his life. “As I started reading more about spirituality and embracing it as a way of life, even the most little things in life started making sense. Spirituality helped me get out of my shell and even helped me in giving up non-vegetarian food. It is through spirituality, I understood that when you consume meat or any other form of non-veg food, you’re consuming their energy and karma as well. We are already dealing with our own karma, so why take more by consuming another life. It was a hard decision because all my life, I’ve been a hardcore non-veg eater. Even on auspicious festival days when people generally avoid non-vegetarian food, I’d still be eating it. All that’s changed now and I’m happy I’m seeing life from a different perspective today.” 

Maanaadu is Silambarasan’s biggest release in a while. He’s kicked about it as it’s a high-concept film based on the sci-fi notion of time loops but at the same time has been treated in a way that it’ll appeal to the masses. “I think the definition of commercial cinema has changed a lot in the past few years. Commercial movies are no longer about flying cars or the hero beating bad guys to a pulp. I think Pa Ranjith’s Sarpatta Parambarai is the best example of the new kind of commercial cinema. It has heroism but the treatment is so different that it’s both entertaining and inspiring. With so much content to consume on OTT platforms, audiences can’t be taken for granted anymore," he said.

Silambarasan also feels that audiences are ready for high-concept films. “It’s not like they can’t understand a concept like a time loop. Of course, the treatment matters a lot and we have to dumb down some things to make it accessible for the masses, but the viewers are a lot smarter than we think. Maanaadu will be a very different experience for the audience. Even though it’s about a time loop and a lot of scenes get repeated, director Venkat Prabhu has kept the overall mood very engaging. We are in the era of Squid Game today, so let’s not underestimate what audiences can and won’t understand,” he said.