As A. L. Vijay’s Thaandavam is set to hit the screens, actor Vikram talks about the film and the different shades of his role. malathi rangarajan listens in…
Effervescence is a Vikram trademark, and this interaction is no exception. Just a poser about his soon-to-be-released Thaandavam, and he takes off with enthusiasm! Info pours out in torrents and if you aren’t clued in you could lose track. We converse for more than an hour and at the end of it he still has a lot to say about Thaandavam! That, despite the fact it has been a hectic day for the actor — dubbing, completing the patchwork for Thaandavam and getting ready for a photo shoot for I, his next with director Shankar. Talking about cinema never tires him.
Vikram shares his Thaandavam experience showering a cornucopia of compliments on the film’s director Vijay. ‘But I thought you are going to talk about your role in it,’ I try to butt in. “Yeah, I’ve worked hard too. Still it is Vijay’s vision and his well-honed script that we actors have given form to. In the past few months, the young man has been thinking of nothing except Thaandavam. Even now he’s at the studio spending sleepless nights, lending the finishing touches,” he says. This hero-auteur combo seems to have really clicked. “I love working with Vijay. While we were doing Deiva Thirumagal we started discussing the story of Thaandavam and on the sets of Thaandavam Vijay began dwelling on the plot of his next project with me. I wish to do at least one film with him every year,” he says.
Is Thaandavam an original story? “Of course, it is,” says Vikram and goes on to add, “even if DT was inspired by I am Sam, Vijay breathed so much freshness into the script and made it suitable to our milieu that it was more like his own story.” The buzz is that the plot of Thaandavam is borrowed, but Vikram doesn’t seem to think so. And hasn’t Thaandavam been shot mostly in England? “That’s what I mean. Even so there’s nothing alien about the film. Vijay’s a one-man army, skilled at multi-tasking. He has an innocence and genuineness about him which get transferred to the characters. You ought to have seen the accolades showered on DT in Japan. You can still catch it on the net.”
Thaandavam is a thriller, I hear. A genre Vikram has not tried his hand at before! “Mmm … you’re right. It’s hard-hitting and sharp, with a strong emotional content. Intelligent scripting is Vijay’s forte,” Vikram continues. “And the fights will be very realistic.”
Playing a visually challenged part isn’t new to Vikram. But this is probably the first time he’ll be seen in a dual role. “But it’s a very different kind of double role. And yes, it’s new for me,” he says. Is the visually challenged character he portrays in Thaandavam going to be on the lines of a role he essayed in Kaasi? “You have a million ways of showing blindness. Thanks to Daniel Kish and Thaandavam, we are getting to know about echolocation, the acumen and sharp sound sense of such people. During Kaasi, the challenge befuddled me. How could they walk so confidently on the streets with just a stick to help them find their way, I would wonder! Now I know that their aural sense is far superior to ours,” Vikram explains.
Daniel Kish, who lost his vision as a baby and now trains those like him to fine-tune their auditory skills, has trained Vikram for the role. It is awe-inspiring to listen to Vikram talk about the incredible skill of this human echolocation expert. Kish was in Chennai recently to dub for his part — besides training Vikram, the mobility specialist has also played a small role in Thaandavam. Vikram was taken aback when for a shot he had to stand next to a pillar and Kish told him, I think this pillar has a metal pipe running through it. “And he was right,” Vikram explains. “A lot of underplayed emotions, and acoustic way-findings as they are known, will lend uniqueness to the treatment of Thaandavam.”
He believes that after the film, everyone will understand the impairment better and those affected will find it a confidence booster.
Anushka and Amy Jackson play the female leads. “Lakshmi Rai will be seen in a significant role,” he says. Promos have begun and the Thaandavam team will go all out to ensure the film’s success. “It has to be done. These days the run in the first fortnight of release is crucial and we have to make the most of it. I have to be available for the publicity. No hype is too much. Yet at the end of it we aren’t God to know what’s in store,” smiles Vikram. The words are in response to my query about why the reception to his Rajapaattai was lukewarm. “I had just done a serious film and we thought we’d go in for a commercial film, a masala …” his voice trails. “It happens.”
“But everyone will like Shiva [Vikram’s name in the film] and his Thaandavam,” he adds.