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Strongman in search of a challenge

He lost more weight than Tom Hanks did for Castaway, for his role in the second half of `Sethu'. And quicker than Tom Hanks. He just starved for 21 days. Yes, Kenny simply lived on beetroot and carrot juice.

Then, Kenny spent three months in the gym, pumping iron, working out to look like the macho-man he does, in his newly released `Dhil'. (N.B: Yes, Salman and Hrithik do have a solid match here).

Kenny? Yes, Kenny is known more by the characters he has played in films. Some know him as Siyaan, some as Sethu, some as Kanagavel (in Dhil) and some will know him as Thyagu (in Samurai) or Suresh (in Kathal Sadugudu) or Santhosh (in King). Sudhish Kamath tries to look into the real Vikram, only to find a cool and composed Kenny (his real name) - the way his friends know him.

IN THE last few months, Kenny has been practicing to look like a blind person (hiding the pupil behind the eyelids) for the Tamil remake of Malayalam flick `Vasanthi Laxmi Pinnai Nyanum'.

``I can hold my eyes like that for two minutes now. I have been practicing to talk, keeping my eyes that way. And to hold the eyes that way, even when I am taking my bath because the role requires me to do that,'' says an excited Kenny, in the middle of an exhaustive casual chat.

As he discusses his new projects, roles and the home- work he has been doing for them, and his ambitious dreams, he is biting his nails all the time, nervous about Dhil's opening.

Kenny a.k.a. Vikram's career can be classified as life before `Sethu' and life after `Sethu'. Before `Sethu' happened, Vikram had to be content with the soft-guy roles he was offered. He was pleasantly surprised with the response he got for `Ullasam' because he was expecting it to be an out-and-out Ajit film.

After starting his career with `Meera' a long while ago (opposite Aishwarya), he hung on patiently, doing Malayalam and Telugu films for sustenance. ``Personally, I don't like softy roles because they are so much like me. There's no challenge there,'' he says.

``Now, after Sethu, I find it very difficult for scripts to satisfy me. I have heard so many stories after that, but very few that would suit me. I want to do good films that are commercially viable,'' says Vikram.

If he gets a good role, he wouldn't mind even doing it free. That's how far, he is willing to go in search for roles that tickle his imagination, roles that challenge him. He is so much in awe of Sivaji Ganesan and Kamal Hassan that he wishes he could do a variety of roles as they did.

``I want to be known as a serious actor. First, I have to convince myself that I am a good actor. My strength lies in acting. After Sivaji, it has been Kamal and after Kamal, there's virtually no one now. And his shoes are pretty big. It would take a lot of cotton and padding but I hope I would be one of the contenders for that,'' he says.

So, Vikram is available and willing. Willing to learn magic and roller-blades for his role in `Vikatan', willing to learn to be `blind' for the Tamil remake of the Malayalam superhit, willing to learn yoga for `Samurai' (his opening shot in the film, is where he does Mayura asanam) and so on.

He is pretty excited about his forthcoming projects. `Samurai', directed by Shankar's assistant Balaji is slated for a Diwali release. ``I play a warrior in that film. It's a very interesting character. The director is very sensitive, very good in scene conception. He narrated the whole film to me in shots''.

The `blind' subject would be released after that. And then `King' which he hopes would be out by Pongal next year. ``I play a double role in that. Both guys look identical but no different get-ups...since the guys need to look identical, the difference would come out only through the acting and the dialogue delivery''.

In `Kathal Sadugudu', he plays an orphan who gets into a family, and how he falls in love and wins over everybody. In `Vikatan', there's a subtle vein of sorrow running through the comedy, he says. Cheran's `Autograph' explores five stages of life of a person. A role that requires him to show maturity according to the age of the character.

In a film to be directed by Adhaiyaman, he plays a womaniser. In `University', he plays a college youth. ``So, as you can see, I have been doing completely different roles. I would want to do one film like `Sethu' every year,'' he says.

He loves photography and spends time catching up with movies on HBO and Star Movies because he gets to watch them again and again, which helps him to study the film. How he wishes he could play a role like `Sappaani' which Kamal did. Also a hardcore negative role...

Watch out for this man. He's arrived.

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Section  : Entertainment
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