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    Comedian Vivek talks about his transition to hero in Naan Than Bala, politics and his real-life role as eco-warrior

    BE it a lost friend in Run, an Iyengar in Saamy, or a marriage    broker in Perazhagan, comedian Vivek has played some iconic roles in the past, which also earned him a Filmfare Award for best comedian in 2002. A serious man in real life, Vivek’s reel life has entertained many, with unforgettable one-liners and jokes on current affairs thrown in. Having shared the screen space with actors like Rajinikanth, Madhavan, Suriya, Vikram and Dhanush, this year, the 50-year-old has decided to become a hero again (his earlier experiment as a hero in Solli Adippen never released). Naan Than Bala will see the comedian play the role of a priest. More from the actor:

    Is there much to laugh about in this film?
    Naan Than Bala shows the relationship between a priest and a thug, who is  an  assassin. Whether the thug changes the priest or the priest changes the thug is the story. My character does not evoke any comedy. It is a very serious role. The priest does something very drastic in the end of the movie and, thus, he cannot be a ‘comedy piece’. But the movie will have humour throughout.

    You have kept a low profile for two years.
    Movies had taken a back seat primarily because I was busy planting trees! After I met APJ Kalam, he turned me into an environmentalist . I have planted 21.5 lakh trees in the past two years. Initially called Green Kalam, it has now been renamed Vivek’s Green Globe, following his instructions. Kalam pointed out that I was concentrating too much on this and not on films. So I came back.

    What is a comedian’s shelf life in our film industry?
    I would say we stay the longest. Actors and actresses come and go, but we remain for more than a decade. I came into the industry in 1987 and Vadivelu came in the 1990s. At present there are only a handful of actors who have been around for that long.

    How risky is it to turn hero after being a comedian?
    It is high time I tried something different. If this movie doesn’t work, I will go back to being a comedian, but people will look at you differently because you have been a hero in a movie. Recently, Kamal Haasan asked me, ‘Why are you just doing comedy, try something different.’ That is what I am doing.

    So is comedy serious business?
    Yes, humour is not a joke. Comedians tend to become repetitive and I cannot afford to repeat my scenes or characters in a movie.

    A dream role?
    That of Sivaji Ganesan in Babu. He plays a rickshaw puller in the movie.

    Planning to enter politics?
    I will join politics when I quit movies, which I do not plan to do for a while. I am not ready for politics.
    The movie is scheduled to release in February.

    - Mrinalini Sundar

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