And that’s quite a statement to make, considering he has already acted in hits such as Mankatha and Saroja . “Though I’m grateful to Venkat Prabhu for casting me in Ajith’s 50th film ( Mankatha ), Kappal has me playing a solo hero and is definitely my biggest project yet,” he says. Despite making his debut with a Telugu film ( Godava ), it was arguably Mankatha that made Vaibhav a popular face in the Tamil industry. Even today, strangers indignantly ask him, “ Thalaya adichitiya nee ?” referring to his punching Ajith in the film.
He admits that his Telugu debut didn’t fetch him too many bouquets. “I always wanted to act in Tamil films. I was brought up here (Chennai) and my Tamil is a lot better than my Telugu,” he says.
His Telugu debut was on account of his father, A. Kodandarami Reddy, an established director in Andhra. He made his Tamil debut with Venkat Prabhu’s Saroja . About his association with Venkat ( Saroja , Goa , Mankatha , Biriyani ), he says they are childhood friends. “Even as children, we decided that if I made it as a hero, I’d help him become a director, and vice versa.”
Vaibhav’s confidence in comedy grew after Goa , a film that got people referring to him as ‘ poo potta sattai ’. “It was only when people appreciated my performance in the film that I realised I could do comedy well,” he says.
But his confidence, he realised, was misplaced when he started shooting his upcoming Kappal , a comedy. “I took at least 10-15 takes for many shots. If my performance is appreciated, all credit must go to director Karthik, as he ensured that I struck the right balance between overaction and subtlety.” In almost all his previous films, Vaibhav had actor Premgi Amaren taking on the mantle of comedy. “Even though we have Karunakaran and VTV Ganesh to provide some laughs, I have to carry this project, a situational comedy, almost single-handedly,” he says, and explains that the parallels people draw between his role and actor Karthik’s in Mouna Ragam aren’t really inaccurate, even though the latter is “a legend”. “I play a similarly effervescent character. In fact, one scene in which I pester the heroine to fall in love with me is pretty much along the lines of the famous Mr. Chandramouli scene in the film. “I call her ‘ chellakkutti ’ in that scene. It was another that took 10-15 takes.”
This film marks his second association with a Shankar assistant, after Damaal Dumeel with director Shree. “That film did well in the cities. I’m confident that Kappal ’s subject will do well in all centres,” he says. The fact that Shankar’s S Pictures has bought the project doesn’t hurt its chances at all. He laughs, “No, it doesn’t. Getting a movie released is no mean task. Such a big name helps.”
Kappal is scheduled for release by the end of December, after Rajinikanth’s Lingaa . Vaibhav also looks forward to a project again with old friend Venkat, hopefully some time next year. “He has told us all (Venkat’s regular actors like Vaibhav, Jai, and Premgi Amaren) to prove ourselves individually and come back. Jai has already proved himself. It’s my turn now.”