The smile’s back

subha j rao
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chat Vinay Rai on making a comeback with Endrendrum Punnagai and his mantra for success

Vinay Rai made heads turn with his very debut, director Jeeva’s frothy Unnale Unnale . Tamil cinema had a new chocolate hero. Six years and mixed fortunes at the box office later, Vinay romances the big screen again with Ahmed’s just-released Endrendrum Punnagai , a story of male bonding and love.

“Shooting for the film was a scream,” says Vinay. “We were all in the same age group, and sat together to develop our scenes. Plus there was Nasser Sir. I have always put him on a pedestal and wanted to work with him. It’s amazing how he brings himself down to our age… there are no inhibitions.”

Endrendrum came to Vinay through Santhanam, who acted with him in Jayam Kondaan . “I’ve always wanted to share screen space with another hero. It’s a great test of your mettle. It helped that Ahmed came up with a youthful script,” says Vinay.

Speaking about Endrendrum… , he says it is a great entertainer. “I believe it is a ‘value for money’ movie.”

Analysing his hits and misses, the actor says he always wanted to do movies that were “different”. Which is why he rejected nearly a 100 ‘lover boy’ scripts after Unnale …Vinay also decided to do one film at a time and explore genres. “I did not want to be stereotyped.” But while two of his films worked, the third tanked. “I’d be lying if I said I was not crushed. But, I told myself that success and failure greet you in every field. Why should this be any different?”

It was the 2012 mass film Mirattal that turned the tide in his favour. “2013 has been a learning curve for me. I learnt what to do and what not to,” he says.

Vinay hails from a non-film background. His only exposure to the medium was watching English classics with his family. “I love old-fashioned movies,” he says. Rugby was his first love. He played for his home state (Karnataka), for the country, and then gave it all up for the movies. “I gave up something I loved for something I might fall in love with,” he smiles. “I am a product of the Jeeva school of movies,” he says of the cinematographer-director who died tragically young when shooting in Russia. “He taught me all I know. The one year I worked with him was like a crash course in acting. And, yes, I did fall in love with movies,” he recalls.

Vinay calls himself a director’s actor. “In good hands, I can prove myself.” The actor concedes that there’s no guarantee for success, but says he thrives on hope. He now places his trust on the new generation of directors who are willing to take creative risks. “I don’t do movies for money or fame. I do them because they enrich my life,” he says.

And, he plans to be in the industry for a long, long time. “I wish to be in front of the camera all my life.”

subha j rao



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