With Vikram’s numbers for Kandasamy becoming chartbusters, the actor reveals another artistic dimension, says Malathi Rangarajan
'I’m crazy about music, and if my car doesn’t have a system, I’ll die'
Proving right the axiom nothing succeeds like success once again, Vikram turns up trumps, this time as a singer. Hovering in the wings for quite a while he had to wait for a Sethu to catapult him to the topmost rung of success, and be hailed as an actor of merit. Again, though he has often been crooning at stage shows abroad, has sung a couple of numbers for ‘Kaadhalism,’ actor Meena’s yet-to-be-released disc, rendered the title song of the film, Sri, along with Shankar Mahadevan and has given voice for the popular number, ‘Gemini … Gemini’ in the AVM film, it is only after the stupendous success of the audio of Kandasamy for which he has recorded four songs that the talent has gained focus.
The tremendous response to the audio augurs well for Kandasamy. “I feel good that the numbers are chartbusters. From the moment of its launch, I sense a positive energy that is taking the film forward,” says Vikram. “When Susi narrated the story, the superhero angle excited me. At that point singing wasn’t on the agenda at all. I liked the suave, cool look of the character a la James Bond and that was it.”
Many in the industry know that Vikram is a commendable singer yet it was director Susi Ganesan who insisted he do it for K. Initially he was supposed to sing only the ‘Excuse me, Mr. Kandasamy’ number, after which the composer (Devi Sriprasad) and the director decided he should go ahead and do all four. “But ‘Miao Miao’ is my favourite,” smiles the hero.
Punctuating the tête-À-tête with melodious refrains, Vikram shows he’s capable of much more as a singer than the peppy numbers of Kandasamy. “Devi has gone in for simple tunes that are easy on the ear because the idea is to target children and adults alike, and it has worked. But melody is my forte,” he says, and starts singing the Ilaiyaraja gem, ‘Nilaavae Vaa’ — its scintillating opening hum perfectly in place. “I’m always singing or at least humming. I’m crazy about music and if my car doesn’t have a system, I’ll die! My range is rather interesting. I can go up to a very high pitch while my base is really down there,” he demonstrates.
In his genes
The title track of K is being envisaged as a melody, and like the other songs Vikram will be giving voice for it. “I’ve also sung for the Telugu version — Mallanna. I had a bad cold and so the recording took time. Devi was really patient with me. ‘Mambo Maamiya’ has come out very well because Telugu sounds very poetic.”
Music is in his genes, what with dad (a character actor), mom and brother Arvind being wonderful singers! “I think only my sister Anita doesn’t sing,” he smiles. “If ever I produce a film, my father will get the best role and my bro, the best song.” Vikram has picked up plenty of Chandrababu hits from his dad. As you sample his ‘Bambara Kannaalae’ you realise he’s an ace mimic too. When he sings ‘Then Paandi Cheemaiyilae,’ you hear a little of Ilaiyaraja. Unni Krishnan follows with the next piece. “I can change my voice. Susi who heard a CD of mine that had the Hariharan song, ‘Moongil Kaadugalae,’ asked me who the singer was and later exclaimed, ‘I didn’t know you can change your voice so much!’”
So how does he do it? “I think it’s the actor in me,” he shrugs. In K, he says, he has visualised the way he would perform the sequences before the camera and has sung accordingly. He agrees that he cannot compete with professionals. “But in emotions I can. For example, if you listen to Meryl Streep, you’ll notice the actor in her coming out through her songs. I’m also a fan of actor Pierce Brosnan’s numbers.”
Columbia Records, which has been behind albums of singing greats such as Shakira and Mariah Carey, has approached Vikram for a music disc. “When Sandeep Chowta, its head in India, contacted me I was thrilled, but as of now I’ve put it on the back burner,” he smiles.
Does he know that after Kandasamy every other actor seems to be an aspiring singer? “I keep hearing about it. The more the merrier,” he says.
What else on K? “Plenty,” laughs Vikram. “Susi is a showman and he’s trying to project the film very differently. His packaging is amazing and so is Ekambaram’s cinematography.”
And Shriya? “Great figure and lithe footwork are her USP. She has a lot of scope to perform in K, while my character is more underplayed.” He suddenly remembers and adds with a guffaw, “When she gets bored she starts singing. While in Mexico for the shoot, we were all travelling in a bus. We were fast asleep when suddenly Shriya took off. She began singing so loudly that she shook us out of slumber …”