Vishal treads a new path to add variety to his action-filled repertoire. T. Krithika Reddy talks to Kollywood's new Theeratha Vilaiyaattu Pillai

Vishal is a good sport. Movies or matters of the heart, the actor doesn't get into vaporous abstractions when confronted with sticky questions. He answers them candidly, his sharp eyes slicing through like a rapier. From his bang-for-the-buck Sandakozhi and Thimiru to his recent lacklustre outings Sathyam and Thoranai, it's been a chequered five-year run in films. But the action hero has learnt to put the past behind him and move on. In today's release, Theeratha Vilaiyaattu Pillai, he changes his look and plays the role of a Casanova (playboy of the Eastern world?) to add variety to his otherwise action-filled repertoire.

Sipping green tea and enjoying a panoramic view of the city's jagged skyline at the business lounge at GRT Grand, Chennai, he fields queries with a characteristic chuckle. Excerpts.

PLAY TIME The trailers on television have said it all. TVP is a breeze. An easy-going romance about a Casanova you can't pin down. The film gets into the psyche of youngsters and expresses their thoughts on love and life. There are some grey shades to my character. Whether it is about choosing a pen or a pal, I explore options. And that happens in my love life as well. So, I woo three girls — each from dissimilar backgrounds. I three-time them!

COMIC CAPER It's not a typical Vishal film. The subject is light, so comedy takes over action this time round. And, Santhanam is at his best!

MAKE-OVER I've got this nonchalant air about myself in the film. Unruly curls and brown contacts suit my image. We did a shoot with make-up expert Bhanu before we zeroed in on the look.

POST FLOPS Yes, my last two films Sathyam and Thoranai didn't do well. So, this film was the most difficult one to roll out in my career. Producers go by the box-office record of your previous film. They refused to take up the project because they didn't want me to ally with yet another new director! But, I was totally convinced by Thiru's script. It was something I was looking for to make a difference to my career. Finally, it was my brother Vikram Krishna who once again came to my rescue to green-light the project. Now, I'm happy that Sun Pictures has taken up distribution. With it, you don't have to worry about the publicity. So, I've already moved on to my next film.

TALE OF SIBLINGS My upcoming film for director Bala is Avan Evan. The script was so fantastic, that it didn't matter to me to team with another star (Arya). I'm very kicked about the project, because it'll bring out an intense, dark filmmaker's penchant for comedy, for the first time. A commercial entertainer, you have to wait and watch if the film's about sibling revelry or rivalry!

AT HOME Films that come under the G.K. banner are a huge pressure on me. Home productions bring with them a deep sense of responsibility from the word ‘go'. At the same time, I enjoy a lot of budgetary freedom.

NEW BOYS There are a dozen new boys (directors) in the business. I think the director in me loves encouraging and working with them, because they have a lot of fire. Besides, wherever possible, I act as a guiding force. Reports about me ghost directing films are baseless; I give directors their space.

TVP IN REAL LIFE?Yes and no. Mmm… I indulge in some healthy flirting! TVP is 75 per cent reflective of my life — and the lives of youngsters. I don't mean to say I simply woo women, like the character I play. But, the dialogue and thought process of the actors are so in tune with today's youth. Nevertheless, reports linking me to every other heroine are false. It sounds ridiculous as all of them are my good friends! If I'm seeing someone, I'll be the first one to make it public.

DIRECTING DREAMS If Sathyam had done well, I would have gone ahead with my plans to direct a superhero film. But in filmdom, what you expect is not always what you get. Fridays dictate your future. Now, I've pushed my directing aspirations to the backburner. But, I hope to take it up someday.