Imagine having films releasing on two consecutive Fridays! T. Krithika Reddy talks to Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu fame Viishnu about Balae Pandiya and Drogi
Many moons ago, Viishnu wowed the audience with his delicately textured role in Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu. Keen to escape stereotyping, the actor declined a dozen scripts that came his way, only to sign up films that portrayed him differently from his debut role as the lanky kabadi-crazy villager Marimuthu. September has thrown up surprises for this MBA qualified, former State-level cricketer-turned actor. Rarely do actors get to see their films releasing on two consecutive Fridays. While Balae Pandiya released this week, Drogi is scheduled to hit the screens on September 10. CinemaPlus caught up with the affable actor on the eve of Balae Pandiya's release, and the topic du jour was, of course, his new films. Excerpts:
FRIDAY PANGS Oh, I'm having release fever. Both Balae Pandiya and Drogi are drastically different. And they are a contrast to VKK. So I'm anxious about the audience's reaction. Balae Pandiya is about a loser-turned-winner. After a series of failures, Pandiya, the hero, is resigned to his fate. But gradually, he realises that failures are only stepping stones to success.
COLOUR CODED Director Siddharth Chandrasekhar has a way with colours. Coming from an advertising background, he had specific ideas relating to the use of colour to reflect moods and moments in the film. Besides, the director was clear about what he didn't want! So it was easy working with him. Being a film with a mix of action, comedy and emotion, I feel I've learnt a lot from my second film.
FUN WITH CO-STARS Balae Pandiya was a fun team. Piaa Bajpai and I bonded well because she felt comfortable talking to me in Hindi. And I guess, the comfort level off-screen resulted in good on-screen chemistry. I admire people who can't speak Tamil, but lip sync so beautifully. It's not an easy job. Gibran of television fame makes his screen debut — and guess what, he plays the villain. With a bald pate and eyebrows shaved off, he looks like an alien. We used to call him Zuzu!
RURAL TO URBAN After VKK, I was hell bent on doing a city-oriented subject — a commercial film that was, at the same time, different. People are under the impression that for a hero to be saleable, he has to dance, fight and wear visually appealing clothes. I'm particular about experimenting with my look and costume in every film. I don't want to get stuck in my debut film mould.
REALISM IN DROGI For an actor to survive as a mass hero, action and romance are inevitable. I think it's too early for me to do a masala entertainer where the hero battles a big band of baddies and comes out unscathed. To me, action has to be realistic. Drogi is my idea of an actioner. Less dishum dishum but at the same time edgy. People wonder why I accepted a two-hero (with Srikanth) subject. When director Sudha K. Prasad, who was Mani Ratnam's assistant, gave me the script and said, ‘Get back to me in three days', I called her in three hours. The script was so gripping. Drogi is too different a film to let go. I play a rugged, intense North Madras-based guy who has to have his way in everything.
DIET ANOTHER DAY! Yes, these days, it's important to change your look to suit the role. From the skinny look in VKK to his normal self in Balae Pandiya to the muscular look in Drogi … my eating pattern changed drastically. I had to gain 15 kg in two months for Drogi! So I ate and ate like there's no tomorrow. After the shoot, I was averse to food!
THREE TO TANGO Three female actors play significant roles in Drogi. I felt a little uncomfortable in the romantic portions. I had to give ten takes for a scene in which I hug the heroine! And yes, those rumours of romantic dalliance are all baseless.
CHAK DE CRICKET I just did not connect with cinema. I'm a fairly accomplished cricketer — have played for the State, South Zone and Rest of India. I've enjoyed a good rapport with top stars of the cricket world and have played with many of them. It was while recuperating after an injury that I caught up with films. Gradually, disappointments on the cricketing front made me turn away from the game and pursue a career in films. It was a struggle getting a break in Kollywood. I crossed several stumbling blocks before I got one. Cricket and my MBA help me handle my career and life better.
PAST PERFECT Yes, with Kulla Nari Kootam, I'm back with the VKK team. It's a comic caper with lots of surprise elements thrown in. I believe every film opens up fresh opportunities. Success spurs you to do better. I'm happy VKK happened.