Society

Being normal, the Vikram way

Actor Vikram. Photo: H. Vibhu  

There is this story Vikram narrates about how he first discovered the magic of acting. How as an eight or nine-year-old, portraying a young black kid in a school play he fell in love with the feeling of being on stage, of performing. “It was a small role, it lasted a few minutes but that’s when I realised how wonderful it was.”

Sitting in the plush 24th floor vice-presidential suite of the Kochi Marriott and talking to Vikram feels like meeting an old friend. Only that he isn’t. He is one of South India’s biggest stars also known as Chiyaan Vikram. He wears his stardom lightly, he poses with the housekeeping staff for selfies, asks if they want more. In town to promote his latest film 10 Endrathukulla, which released yesterday, he has everybody floored.

Vikram is the proverbial guy next door, albeit an extremely good looking one. Sporting a beard, shades and fashionably dishevelled hair, he looks every bit the superstar. He lounges comfortably on a sofa and talks about his latest film.

The film, directed by Vijay Milton, he says, is very different. The director’s vision demanded that his interpretation of his role be devoid of resonances of his other roles. A tall task, given Vikram’s considerable oeuvre in terms of his films - Sethu to Dhil to Pithamagan (which got him a National Award for the best actor) to Anniyan to Deiva Thirumagal to Ravanan to I (to name a few). “In terms of the get-up, the characterisation, the dialogues…everything had to be different. I’d do this and Vijay would say ‘you did this in this film’, I’d try something else and he’d say the same thing. A lot of work went in. Nothing was forced; he paid attention to every little nuance.”

Vikram plays a driver in the film which tells the story of a road trip, with plenty of action and a love story, where two very different people find love. Samantha Prabhu stars opposite him. “I told her this would be one of the best roles she has done ever.” The film has been produced by A.R. Murugadoss and Fox Star Studios.

He is all praise for Milton and his style of filmmaking. “During filming - one of us would fumble and ask for a retake and he’d say ‘no, let’s keep it’ – that’s how it is in real life, isn’t it? He’d be shooting with five to six cameras, and after a point you lose track of the camera and stop worrying about your profile. It was a great experience. That’s not all, I learnt so much else from Vijay. Even the small things, the courtesies…the things we have forgotten about.”

Incidentally, this film marks a landmark in his career. It was an October, 25 years ago, when his first film was released. He jokes, “I didn’t realise it has been these many years. I thought I was just 30.” It was a long struggle, of almost 10 years, before he got noticed with Sethu. During his initial years as an actor, he acted in Malayalam films such as Dhruvam, Mafia and Sainyam.

He says, “It has been a good journey.”

That Kerala connection, from long ago, brings him here, often. “I don’t see coming to Kerala as a commercial exercise, it’s a human venture. Every film I make I come here, I am the prodigal son. Even this trip was impromptu, which is why the rest of the cast is not here. I like coming here and my films have always been received well here. The thing about coming here is that I am not judged. I was here for a long time before I went to Tamil.”

As actor, he has the reputation of being heavily invested in his roles, constantly challenging himself as a performer and often pushing himself physically. He has said elsewhere that he likes to do films where he can give that extra something and make it different. He avers, “I like to do it for myself. Not because I am trying to impress anyone…it is just for myself. With each of my films I want to look/be different from the real me and want my performance to be different from the last one.”

His other Kerala connection that brings him here is his wife, a Malayali from Kannur. He comes often enough, he says. He would be recognised, how does he avoid that? “I have my ways,” he says. On prodding all he says is, “I cannot tell you how. Then it wouldn’t work the next time.” Disguise? “Maybe.” And we know how easily he could pull it off.

“I enjoy fame but I like normal too. Going out is difficult, you are recognised and you cannot be normal anymore…you start living in a bubble and I am a normal guy.”

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 8:04:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/society/being-nromalthe-vikram-way/article7789325.ece

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