Endurance tests are not new to Vikram. After fighting leeches and snakes and diving from steep cliffs into deep blue waters in the dense forests of Kerala for Raavan, the versatile actor shifts seamlessly to a special stratosphere for Deiva Thirumagal. Playing a ‘child-man — an adult with the mental maturity of a seven-year-old', Tamil cinema's Mr. Experiment is all set to suffuse the screens with a smorgasbord of emotions. Like in Sethu, Pitamagan and Kasi, the actor beats the star in this week's release Deiva Thirumagal too. But hold on… if you miss the stout-hearted hero of Gemini, the plucky cop of Samy or the gutsy villager of Dhool, there's reason to cheer. His upcoming films with directors Suseendran and Vijay are brawny action dramas generously garnished with star charisma. During lunch hour, in the confines of his caravan parked at a studio in Vadapalani, Vikram opens up on a range of topics. And guess what, his answers too, like his histrionics, are precise. T. Krithika Reddy takes notes

DT IS DIFFERENT Right from direction to sound design, DT is a well-nuanced film. Because it relates to a special child, it would be incorrect to jump to a conclusion that it'll be heavy or depressing. There's a bouquet of emotions that everyone can relate to. The well-etched father-child relationship is bound to create an impact. It's a film that defies genres. It's an experience.

MY HOMEWORK For me, it wasn't an easy role to essay. It's a textbook delineation of a character. I spent days in Vidya Sagar and Pathway to observe children with special needs. I picked up some expressions and mannerisms from them. From eyes and finger movements to dialogue delivery, I've tried hard to get my role right — one of the characters where there are no shades of grey or black. There's a quiet heroism about the protagonist that's sure to tug at your heartstrings.

KIDS AND ME I share a rocking chemistry with my little co-stars. I played Santa Claus to make them feel at home on the sets. Five-year-old Sarah slipped into her character with ease. One kid refused to cry and another would howl at the very sight of me in the maroon sweater!

BURDEN OF EXPECTATION Yes, it does weigh heavily on me. But after watching the film I thought it's a job well done. Can't wait to see how people react. So far, the response has been encouraging from the censor board members and people from the film fraternity. So I've moved on… already busy with my next shoot.

PACE GETS FASTER I'm picky when it comes to films. But I've learnt to hasten my pace and not take those long breaks. I'm looking at films that can be wrapped up soon. I don't want to get back to those Bheema days when I waited for months on end to turn into beefcake! After DT, we are looking at a Diwali release for Suseendran's film. I love this pace and am working hard to maintain it.

TWO GOOD! Two decades have sped by. There have been unforeseen failures and redeeming triumphs. It's been a rollercoaster ride, but nevertheless a gratifying one. Commitment and perseverance remain the same from my first film. What's changed is my confidence level. Having worked with the best in the field, I've crossed several learning curves. There are so many roles to try out, so many boundaries to push. Tamil cinema never had it so good. The line between mainstream and parallel cinema is blurring. I want it to be a bridge that connects the two. It's the best time to be an actor. I'm on a high. Step by step, I'm closer to realising my goal of leaving behind a body of work — where each film is distinct from the other.

BEST YET TO COME There have been many defining moments in my career. But I'd like to believe the best is yet to come. I would like to surprise myself with every assignment. And there are some lovely directors around to help me realise my dreams.

UPCOMING FILMS Besides Suseendran's Rajapattai, there's a Vijay film. Then I will be working with director Dharani. Post Raavan, I've got a couple of offers from Bollywood too. Though I'm not in a hurry to bite off more than I can chew, I will consider doing Hindi films.

THE DICHOTOMY Having played scores of emotionally and physically draining roles, I do miss my Dhil-Dhool days. Sadly, there's a generation of cine-goers that's not familiar with those kick-ass roles and know me only for the intense, performance-driven ones.

SINGING SUCCESS Songs just happened. In Kandasamy, some numbers included dialogue, so I had to pitch in. The trend just continued. I've been getting only fast-paced numbers, though my forte lies in melody!

REALITY CHECK My wife Shyla. She's the one who anchors me to reality. She taught me not to let success enter my head or failure my heart.

MY FIVE Gladiator, Love Story, Mouna Ragam, Nayagan and Pathinaru Vayadhinilae are films I'd like to watch over and over again.

BEYOND GLAMOUR As UN Habitat Youth Envoy for Asia, I'm involved with spreading awareness about green economy. It's a huge responsibility I've taken upon myself. We are on a tree-planting spree.

UNFORGETTABLE COMPLIMENT During the shooting of Kasi, an old man walked up to me and said, ‘Kurudananalun nalla nadikira thambi…'

Keywords: VikramKollywood