The composer, singer and lyric writer is all set for yet another avatar. malathi rangarajan meets Vijay Antony, the new hero on the horizon
Five minutes into the conversation and Vijay Antony goes on like he's known me for ages! And it's only my first interaction with the popular composer-lyricist-singer, and now hero! The camaraderie continues for the rest of our talk time. “You should try out everything you wish to in life, I mean, everything positive,” he says.
So is that why he's turning hero?
“Ha! Ha! I prefer to be called an actor, not hero. But music is primary,” he says. Naan, which is nearing completion, will be Vijay Antony's launch pad as performer. It is also the late Jeeva's camera assistant Jeeva Shankar's first film as director.
Forget their potential or lack of it but today you have many Tamil film directors donning the greasepaint. Still a composer is an unexpected entrant. “Even Ilaiyaraja and Rahman appear before the camera to endorse products. Mine is an extension of it,” he contends.
“Come on, you know it isn't the same,” I argue. He needn't get defensive, because I'm just curious to know why a busy music director is foraying into new territory.
“For me, it's never been why — only why not? I love trying out various areas of work,” he says. Zest marks his responses. And confidence too!
Antony is also the composer of Naan. “Right from my college days in Tirunelveli, I've performed live on stage as a singer and actor. Facing the camera is just another step,” is how he sees it. The unit was quite surprised at his spontaneity before the arc lights, you hear. “At no point did I have to go for more than a couple of takes,” he says.
“Also I'm very happy with my compositions for Naan. As I shoot for the film I conceive the apt re-recording strains for the shots. Naan isn't run-of-the mill. It has a strong script. Within a few minutes into the film you'll forget Vijay Antony, the musician trying his hand at acting, and see only the character I play,” he assures.
The gates of tinsel town opened wide for Antony once Aascar Ravichandran signed him up as the composer of Dishyum. The film took three years but in the meanwhile filmmaker S. A. Chandrasekaran gave him Sukran, which released earlier and made him popular. Fifteen films in a composing career spanning six years and several of them chartbusters, and Antony is still going strong on the music front, with a spate of big releases in the offing — Vijay's Velayudham, Vishal's new project tentatively titled Prabhakaran and Bharath's Yuvan Yuvathi to name a few. Velayudham is my second venture for Vijay, after Vaettaikkaaran. And I'm confident that the score will be as popular,” he goes on.
Antony gives the impression that multi-tasking is easy. Having begun as a sound engineer, he still prefers handling the department, for his music at least. His next statement is a shocker! “I'm also learning Tally. The knowledge should help me in my business, that is, when I get into one,” he chuckles and adds, “I'm diligent, and fame is a bonus.”
He's a singer and sometimes pens the verses for his songs. “Lyric writing is another creative form I enjoy,” he says. But ‘Dylaamo Dylaamo,' ‘Naaku Mooka,' ‘Usumalarasae …' where does he get that mumbo-jumbo from? He bursts out laughing: “See, when I'm composing a tune for the lyricist to fill up with words, instead of the usual ‘thanana thanana …' I put in a lot of gibberish and when it sounds good I tag it to the lyric. But sadly, though my melodies are hits, I'm remembered more for the weird sounding stuff.”
If Naan wins, will we get to watch more of the actor Antony? “I plan to work in just a film or two a year, in promising roles. I needn't be a hero all the time — brother, father, husband, anything is fine as long as the part is worthwhile.” Three heroines team up with him for Naan — Rupa Manjari of Thiru Thiru Thuru Thuru, Anuya of Siva Mansula Sakthi and Vibha, a newcomer.
What does wife Fathima, the cheerful erstwhile television anchor, have to say about the acting bug that's bitten him? “She tried dissuading me, but soon gave up. ‘If you can't beat them, join them,' kind of logic,” he laughs.