Vishal Film Factory releases Madha Gaja Raja worldwide this Friday. The actor opens up about what prompted him to turn producer overnight
It is unusual for an action hero like Vishal Krishna Reddy who commands a good market share in the Tamil and Telugu film industries to worry about the release of his film, which seems to have the right ‘combination’ to succeed at the box office. “I have adopted a baby,” says Vishal referring to his film, Madha Gaja Raja, directed by Sundar C. The others in the cast are Varalaxmi Sarathkumar, Anjali and Santhanam. He is as perplexed as anyone else why the film didn’t make it to the theatres as early as January this year. “I had to step in and save it,” he says, explaining the reason for floating his own production company, Vishal Film Factory, which is releasing the film worldwide this Friday. “It is one of those uncomplicated films made for the trade. Even while Sundar C pitched the film, he said this would be like one of those Rajini and Kamal films of the Eighties and the Nineties — like a festival,” he says.
Forced to think about the return on investment and stretching the revenue with each film, stars like Vishal are forced to play the difficult and, often emotionally draining, numbers game. “Once an actor establishes himself as an action hero, there is tremendous financial responsibility. The pressure to reach a large section of audience is huge from the trade,” he reveals.
This sets off a chain reaction, forcing the actors to bind all their decisions to the buck. “In fact, most of the films I have done weren’t written for me. At the end of the day, I cannot sit idle at home, right?” he asks rhetorically. It is difficult to customise each film incorporating the anecdotal feedback received from theatre owners and distributors. “I trust their experience in the industry,” he says. Yet, it is not easy to get the right mix. Talking about how 'commercially viable films’ are conceived, he says, “The format is such that there needs to be a song in the 10th minute, an interval block fight, a grand finale just before the end… how many films can do away with the interval block fight sequence?”
It is precisely to bypass the restrictions that capital imposes on creativity that Vishal came up with the idea of floating a production house overnight. “Though it has always been my dream to have my own production house, it was also launched because I didn’t want to be a mute spectator when my film languished in the cans. I wanted to take control of it,” he says.
Vishal suggests that his next, Pandianaadu, set in Madurai, will help him get noticed again as an actor. “Avan Ivan raised my confidence as an actor. In Suseenthiran’s film, I will be playing a character who doesn’t know how to fight.”
Cashing in on his star status, Vishal will start shooting for his long-pending Telugu flick in November. Will it be made specifically for the Telugu audiences? “There is no difference whatsoever between the audiences in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. In fact, experimental films are welcomed more in the Telugu market than here.”
Having floated a production house, Vishal looks set for a new innings. While we will continue to see the actor doing ‘commercially viable’ films, he promises that his production house will back films that others wouldn’t. “The idea is to give young directors a chance to break into this difficult field.”
The impact of Avan Ivan
The moment I knew I was going to play a character with an effeminate streak, I grabbed the offer. Many directors consider casting me in their film because of Avan Ivan. Even Suseenthiran wouldn’t have come to me if not for Bala’s film.