With Kumki raising expectations, Vikram Prabhu, its protagonist, talks about his experience working with director Prabhu Solomon and acting alongside an elephant in his debut film

Choosing to become an actor in an industry where one’s grandfather and father have reached heights that most can only dream of is no easy task. But then, Vikram Prabhu, son of actor Prabhu and grandson of the great Sivaji Ganesan, seems to have no problem handling the pressure accompanying the release of his debut flick, Kumki. “There is always pressure. It is for us to know how to handle it,” he says, in a calm, collected manner.

Prabhu Solomon’s Kumki enjoyed the industry’s undivided attention on the day the team launched the film’s audio what with both the heavyweights of the Tamil film industry, Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan, turning up for the event. Add to that the fact that Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and former Chief Minister Karunanidhi sent their wishes to the entire team and you have an idea of the expectations from Kumki.

“I happened to read a news report in which director Prabhu Solomon had said that he was looking for artistes for his new film. The catch phrase that the artistes would have to work with elephants caught my attention. Almost instantly, I got a call from my uncle Ram who told me about director Prabhu Solomon’s quest and asked me to apply. I called up the director who asked me to visit him the next day. After meeting me, he said, ‘I have been looking for a new face for over six months now and you are the closest to the character I have in mind.’ Apparently, he wanted his hero to be at least six feet tall as he would have to stand next to an elephant that would be around 12 feet in height. The same night he called up my dad requesting him to allow me to act in his film and dad was only pleased to give the go-ahead.”

Vikram, who had his schooling in India, went to the San Diego State University in California to do his BA in Theatre Arts. After that and a few other acting courses, he returned to India to join director Vishnuvardhan as an assistant. A year later, he joined his family company, Sivaji Productions.

“Grandpa was particular about our education. He had missed out on his and therefore insisted we should complete ours. Until the time he was alive, he never allowed us kids to work and always ensured we paid attention to our studies. I was in San Diego when he passed away and couldn’t make it to the funeral because of security issues. His death changed me. When you lose someone you love dearly at the age I was, you become wiser. When I returned from the U.S., I felt I had become way too Americanised for our system. So, to make myself suitable to our industry’s style, I joined director Vishnuvardhan’s team. Later, I moved to our company,” says Vikram, who says his family has always been a pillar of strength for him.

“We are a joint family. They have never forced anything on me and have only been supportive of all that I have done. In fact, had my granddad been alive today, he would have been happy that I have taken to acting. Somehow, I have never reconciled myself to the fact that he is no more. I envision him sitting on his couch and feel his presence. He is there to guide me,” he signs off.

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