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Arya interview: ‘Marriage was the most beautiful thing that happened to me’

Arya, who shares screen space with wife Sayyeshaa in upcoming Tamil flick Teddy, gets candid about the three Fs in his life: fitness, friendships and films

If all things went right, Teddy would have hit screens in the summer of 2020.

But a pandemic arrived, and like most things in the world including movies, this Tamil film, starring Kollywood’s happening couple Arya and Sayyeshaa, too got hit. “We were making grand plans for a summer release in 2020,” recalls Arya, over a Zoom call, “But they all went for a toss.”

A year later, the film is back in the reckoning — it releases directly on OTT platform Disney + Hotstar VIP on March 12 — and Arya is a relieved man.

We last saw you in Magamuni and Kaappaan in 2019 and now there’s Teddy. What happened in 2020?

Maintaining my weight and fitness took most of the year. I had filmed [half my scenes] for Sarpatta Parambarai (in which he plays a boxer) and I had to survive the entire lockdown ensuring my body was the same. They would bake cakes at home, and I would really want to eat them…but I could not! However, spending time with my family was the biggest plus about that phase. I’d say that if you survive lockdown without any major issues, you can survive anything.

The trailer of Teddy has both serious and fun elements. Will it be a mix of both?

People hear the title and immediately think that it will be a comedy or a cartoon-based film. But the biggest plus of Teddy is, in my opinion, is its genre: a medical thriller. It involves a travel portion too, for which we flew to Azerbaijan.

We have all grown up listening to rhymes featuring teddies. This storyline emanated from a single thought: what if the teddy could speak and do things like a normal human being? That idea held exciting possibilities.

It’s directed by Shakti Soundar Rajan, who earlier helmed a Tamil film set in space (Tik Tik Tik). What’s new this time?

The Hollywood film Gravity was shot for more than a year, but director Shakti Soundar did a project similar to that (Tik Tik Tik), right here in Tamil cinema, within 55 days. To have completed such a quality project within that time was amazing. If any other director had pitched Teddy to me, I would have been sceptical about its execution. But as it was Shakti, coming off a film like Tik Tik Tik, I knew the project was in safe hands.

The film has opted for a direct OTT release at a time when theatres have re-opened. How do you see the future of film releases?

The theatre business will exist forever; I see that experience as a family outing. I think OTT platforms and theatres will co-exist in the future. It is beneficial for producers because of newer revenue streams.

Films are only a minor part of your social media posts. You seem to focus more on friendships and fitness….

That’s my life! My wife keeps telling me that I should have become a sportsman. I have been on the ground since Class III. I have found several like-minded friends thanks to my interest in fitness and cycling. Bonding with them and working on our fitness levels gives me a different high altogether.

What do have to tell to people who lead sedentary lifestyles and lack a fitness routine?

You are the troublemaker and you are the solution too. Even if you are the busiest person on earth, you should keep aside half hour for your health… if you really care about yourself! It’s important to have the willpower to get into that sort of a fitness routine.

Does it help that your roles have physical aspects to it? Sarpetta Parambarai, your upcoming film with Pa Ranjith, has you playing a boxer…

Not necessarily. I like to push my boundaries physically when it comes to roles, so I might have a little advantage. But it depends on the film’s subject.

How much has life changed post marriage, and how much has marrying a colleague from the film industry (Sayyeshaa) helped?

Marriage is the most beautiful thing that happened in my life. As she’s also an actor, I do not need to elaborate on what happens on the sets and the situations that arise there. She’s a talented actor, and a great dancer; I want her to continue taking films, but it is she who is choosy about work!

Do you think that being a celebrity couple comes with responsibilities?

We [Sayyeshaa and I] do not think deeply into how we should behave or speak in public, nor do we look up to other celebrity couples. We strive to be genuinely happy in the company of each other, whether it’s a public appearance or a film set.

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