In a freewheeling interview with k. jeshi, Vikram says he is energised by the idea of trying out unusual roles
Actor Vikram hits the gym twice a day now. He wants to sport a scrawny look for his new film. “My diet and fitness are driven by my characters,” the actor says. “If I want to play Uncle Ben or Hardy, I will happily pile on the kilos,” he laughs.
Fresh after the success of Raavanan at the national and international level, the actor revels in an exciting phase of his career. “I want to be a ‘human chameleon' that changes according to every character. It is tiring and challenging. But the expectations keep me going,” he adds. Vikram teams up with director Vijay for his yet-to-be-titled film. Director Vijay tasted success with Kireedom and won accolades for the poignant Madarasapattinam too.
“It is an exciting film, the subject is relevant and it is the best character I have ever done,” says an elated Vikram of his new venture. The performance-oriented film also packs a beautiful message.
In director Vijay's words, the USP of the film is Vikram's character. “Vijay is fantastic. He is so passionate that he can never make a bad or a wrong film. As I slog it out in the gym to look the character, he puts in an equal effort to flesh out my character. He lists ‘utilise Vikram' on the top of his ‘to do' things for the film.”
When directors like Vijay, Shankar, Mani Ratnam or Bala pin their hope on Vikram, it gives him a high, he says. “Cinema is magic, and these people create masterpieces. It is a wonderful feeling being part of their make-believe world.”
Vikram says re-inventing oneself is part and parcel of an actor's journey. “Dramatic acting in the times of veterans such as Sivaji Ganesan was followed by unique styles of acting with the entry of Rajinikanth and Kamal Hassan. Films such as Mudhal Mariyaadhai and Thevar Magan were close to life. Sethu brought in a wave of ‘realism'. Now, it is ‘rawness' that works and maybe two or three years down the line, it is going to be something different. For an actor, it is a constant metamorphosis. With every film, you grow and it is very difficult to become a comprehensive actor.”
Ask him if Bollywood beckons post-Raavanan, and he says language is not a barrier. “It can be Hindi, Bhojpuri, Bengali, Oriya or Marathi, but what I look forward to is portraying characters that are challenging and not run-of-the-mill. I don't want to do another Aaruchami (Samy) Bheera (Raavanan) or Arumugam (Dhool). If they want me to do a cop, offer me something that's different from Samy.”
On striking a balance between being a star and a dependable actor, Vikram says he has been plainly lucky. “In most films, I blend easily into my director's vision. And, I try to offer fresh inputs to ensure every new role is better than my previous best,” he says confidently.
Has success made him responsible? “Yes, and it has gone to my head,” he jokes. “I just want to act. It is one demanding profession. Give me work and you can't find a happier person. I am in love with all my characters and always put in that extra, so when people watch a Raavanan, it is Bheera who shines through and not Vikram.”
Vikram had earlier mentioned that he would retire once he works with Shankar and Mani Ratnam. So, what next? “I want to do more and more films with them. It is intoxicating.”
On his mind...
A die-hard romantic, Vikram loves to unwind with romcoms and thrillers
Loves experimental cinema. Recently watched Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange
Favourite Hindi films: Rang De Basanti, Chak De, Black, Dil Chahta Hai, Rock On
Favourite Hindi directors: Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, Farhan Akthar, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and Aamir Khan