When a child is properly taken care until the age of 15, nothing can change him after that.

Samuthirakani is an Indian film Actor, Producer and Director who predominantly works in the Tamil industry besides appearing in a number of Malayalam films. He worked as an assistant to Director K. Balachander. His 2009 directorial Naadodigal was a runaway hit, which was later remade in three languages. He has acted in several films as well and is best known for his performances in Subramaniapuram, Easan, and Saattai.
Subramaniapuramshowcased Samuthirakani as an actor with potential and Nadodigalhelped him prove his mettle as a director. His recent film Appais about the role of a father in his child’s life.
He has won the National award for best supporting actor in 2016 for the filmVisaranai.
Samuthirakani shares with Marie Banu why his films focuses majorly on social issues.

Given that your recent film is titled Appa, can you tell us about your family and your role as a father?
I hail from Sethur, a village near Raja Palayam in Virudunagar district, Tamil Nadu. My family were engaged in agriculture. I lost my father when I was 15 years old. He used to say: “Money will not be of use at all times; one should earn the goodwill of people.” I bear this in my mind as I travel my life’s journey – earning the goodwill of people.
The conversations I have had with my son who is studying in 9th standard is what appears in most of my films. In fact, he has directed a short film and released it in youtube independently.
My daughter is studying in third standard. I am lenient towards my children and give them 100 percent freedom while my wife is strict towards them.

Your thoughts about the present generation. Are we giving them enough freedom?
It is wrong not to give freedom for our children. They need to enjoy their childhood—dance and play at the age when they should—so that when they grow up they can face the society rightfully. But, in reality, parents are designing the lives of their children and forcing them to do what they wish them to do. It is like a captive monkey who is made to dace to the tune of its master. This is very wrong! Some parents decide on what their child should become depending on what their neighbour’s children does. They wish for their neighbour’s envy more than their own child’s happiness. This is betrayal of our next generation.

What is the reason for most of your films to be focused on social issues?
I love my society! When I arrived at Chennai at 15, I met several people who were good—a police constable who was on his night patrol; a watchman who gave me space to spend the night; a hotelier who offered me a job, etc. Like this, there are many good people who are quiet. At the same time there are also not-so-good people who are loud. The world seems to recognize only the loud people.
This is the reason for me to produce/direct films like Appa. People who have not watched films for more than ten years are now watching my films. I am receiving calls from theatre owners and my film distributors across the state informing me that many school children in Namakkal are being taken to watch Appa.
I wish the next generation to lead a pollution free life. No one is living a 100% life! Presently, we are all living a life filled with adjustments and corruption.

Films portray villains in a very admirable way. How do you think we can sensitise the future film makers?
I do not compromise on my films. I trust my audience and risk producing. Although other creators may desire to convey a message through their films, they are not in a situation to do so as they cannot afford it. Their producers demand assurance for their investment and have a formula which they want to follow.
People like me believe in breaking this formula. My films are all different and the public are accepting it.

You have donned several hats – Actor, Director, Producer, and Dubbing artist. Which of them would you like to be identified for and why?
I want to learn all the techniques in cinema—including editing, art direction, and camera. Only then I can get fully involved in cinema.
Appais going to be remade in 12 languages and I wish to direct all of them. The issue about parenting is global and I want the message to reach a larger audience.

Which of the social issues are your most passionate about?
Child labour and child abuse. When a child is properly taken care until the age of 15, nothing can change him after that.