Whether Vikranth wishes it or not comparisons with his famous cousin have been inevitable. “It isn’t fair. Vijay Anna is innumerable notches higher. I’m just a beginner,” says Vikranth. Four films in four years and a solo hero in three of them, yet Vikranth has decided to toe the anti line in ‘Goripalayam,’ releasing today.

“I’ve realized that to make up leeway I’ve got to be part of winning projects. And doing a negative role is a sure way of avoiding comparisons with my brother, because he’s never played villain,” he smiles.

The young man has no problem admitting that he approached director Rasu Madhuravan for a chance to work with him. “I liked his ‘Maayaandi Kudumbathaar’ and called him up for an appointment. ‘I’ll get in touch with you myself,’ he said, and I thought it was another of those usual responses directors come up with.”

But true to his word, Madhuravan contacted Vikranth and gave him ‘Goripalayam.’ “‘The film has 15 important characters and though yours has a negative slant, the scope it offers will be worthwhile,’ he told me. I make a late entry in the film but my character will make an impact,” he states with confidence. Those who have watched the film already have told him, “For the first time you don’t remind us of Vijay.” And wife Manasa who has been pulling his leg about his earlier roles, said, “You look nice in ‘Goripalayam.’” Vikranth and Manasa have known each other for long, and got married quite recently.

Madhuravan has been so impressed with Vikranth’s show in ‘Goripalayam’ that he has booked him for his first production, ‘Vavvaal,’ to be directed by Bharatiraaja’s associate, So.Arulraj. Vikranth will also be working in Madhuravan’s next directorial venture.

Criticisms about his earlier performances have singed the young actor. “I’ve been pained by comments,” he says. A debut film could make or irrevocably mar a hero’s career. ‘Karka Kasadara,’ his maiden attempt with Lakshmi Rai, wasn’t quite a judicious choice. “When I watched myself on screen I knew I had to start from scratch,” he concedes.

Then came ‘Ninaithu Ninaithu Parthaen,’ again a non-starter. “But it had talented names Manikandan, Madhu Ambat, Joshua Sridhar …” defends Vikranth. Neither did ‘Nenjathai Killadhae’ in which he had ‘Ammuvaagiya Naan’ Bharathi as his pair work. “Directed by Agathiyan of ‘Kaadhal Kottai’ it is a film which I had pinned my hopes on,” he says.

What did brother Vijay have to say about his performances? “He watched ‘Karka Kasadara’ and complimented me for my dances and stunts. ‘Work hard, talk little, turn a deaf ear to sycophancy and you’ll secure a safe niche in five years time,’ he advised. We meet often and discuss a lot of subjects but somehow, films haven’t been one of them.”

Making it as a cricketer was Vikranth’s aim when in school and college. “In school Dinesh Karthik was my classmate and Badani my senior. Cricket, not acting, was the reigning passion then,” he says. Even today actors Arya, Jeeva, Ramesh, Ramana and Vikranth play regularly and participate in tournaments. The college team didn’t welcome the aspiring cricketer with open arms. Put off by the treatment meted out to him Vikranth gave up the game and began to concentrate on cinema.

Like Vijay, Vikranth too began as a child actor. And again like Vijay who initially did ‘Senthoorapaandi’ with Vijayakanth to bolster up his career, Vikranth worked with the captain (Vijayakanth) in ‘Engal Aasan.’

Getting back to ‘Goripalayam’ Vikranth says, Michael Rayappan, who is producing the film after the successful ‘Nadodigal,’ is immensely happy with the output. “He told Madhuravan, ‘You’ve done your job well. So my responsibility of taking it to the audience becomes greater now.’ For his part, Vikranth is keeping his fingers crossed.