Vikram: The day I lose my excitement, I will quit

You become a different person altogether in front of the camera. I have done plays in school. Excerpts from a conversation:
The quality of films you pick is improving with age. Adhe padam innorutharukku pidikaadhu. I am a prankster. Dhruv studies at the Lee Strasberg Theatre & Film Institute, New York. Within that, we need to show variations in characters and that’s how we score. The make-up man and the sets were available only for two days, so we had to finish off everything quickly. I am too lazy. That’s what I aim for. I made the decision and so I better give my 100 per cent. Journalists meet you only if you think we can. I have learned to survive and I know everyone is dispensable. Some swear by Dhool. Some swear by Anniyan. Whenever I visit villages, women still say Kasi is the best film I have done so far. Does it mean it was a bad film? Once I am on the sets sporting specific costumes and looks, I am there. I can’t write. Popular Photos

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Definitely, I am. Say, he wants the character to have a potbelly, I visualise the same. With Kadaram Kondan, I learned I could do an excellent film within a short span of time. I need a good script in the first place. Had Sethu not happened, I would be still slogging. That’s the ideal place for method acting and has produced stalwarts—Marilyn Monroe, Al Pacino, Paul Newman, Geraldine Page and so on. Advertising

You are known to go that extra mile for any role. How do I achieve that? But what made you do Saamy Square? That said, I expect others to be perfect as well. But hey, I am. Some swear by Kandasamy. The day I lose my excitement, I will quit. Any question can be wrong— if framed wrongly or say I am not in a proper state of mind. Advertising

Before I begin the interview, I ask Vikram what annoys him the most, so that I know what not to ask. I take constructive criticism but everyone is a reviewer now. Because it’s all blood and sweat. I want people to build conversations around my films. Who is KK? Hey, I am shy, too. Kadaram Kondan will be a milestone in my career and that’s what I had told during the audio launch. After that, it became subtle. Absolutely. I don’t do it for the sake of impressing someone. (Laughs)
Can we see you direct your son someday? It means I am evolving. I may not be the person I am talking to you. Additionally, I had to do the younger version of Saamy. It’s subjective, right? I hold the character (Saamy) very close to my heart. I neither let success go to my head nor failure affect me. That is my nature. I had great satisfaction on the first day which continued till the last. What is the fun in that? I was happy that I could recreate the same character I did 16 years ago without prosthetics. Dhruv is cooler. (Laughs) Nobody wants to do a bad film, intentionally. Shankar’s I is the toughest film of yours till date. Now, actors aren’t supposed to act. Who is cooler—Dhruv or you? I prefer Dhruv to be in safer hands. It’s not luck. What do I make of this? Why do they interest you so much? I give a month’s time and let the role grow on me. It’s weird. For Rajapaattai, I remember I had 9 looks in a song and 13 looks in a scene. It’s vice-versa. I was on a strict diet regimen, too. I always think I should have done better. More Explained

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What’s with you and layered grey characters? Cinema isn’t what it used to be. So, we will shoot not-so-important scenes first. I should stop being hard on myself. I do crazy stuff for films. Ovvorutharuku oru padam pidikkum. I have my physiotherapy sessions in between. My wife says I should have 48 hours in a day. I should make them discuss cinema. See, it has been days since my manager visited me. I worked nonstop for 36 hours without sleep. (Grins) I had to learn things the hard way and am still learning. (Laughs) As a performer, it is important to stay at the top—which is why I choose unconventional stories and challenge myself to do better roles. I am quite a private person and I enjoy that. What attracted me to the script is its pace. I work out again and crash off by 11 pm. He is definitely not dark. Every stage of the process is challenging—getting into the role, acting, doing stunts and dubbing. I am not sure if I am good enough to direct him yet. It feels good when my son (Dhruv) says, “Dad, in today’s class, they taught me what you did in Kasi or Pithamagan.” I went into specific zones for a few of my films— Krishna in Deiva Thirumagal, the beast character in I, Love in Iru Mugan and KK in Kadaram Kondan. Naturally, it will be unsettling on day one. (Laughs)
Let’s talk about your character in Kadaram Kondan. I know why you are asking. Sometimes, the hard work you put in doesn’t pay off. Did the role excite me enough? It has a terrific script. In films, I want to be far possible from the guy I am. If you want to change something in you, what that would be? 24 hours isn’t enough at all. I didn’t wear makeup yet pulled off the roles effortlessly. Kamal (Haasan) sir exactly told me the same. When I accept a film, I do it wholeheartedly. If I chance upon a great script like I, I don’t mind taking a risk again. I don’t want to be me. Sometimes, I don’t even have time for my family. Because I strongly felt the film would fetch me a different set of audience. It’s about meeting the right people in the right place at the right time. I want everything to be perfect. To be honest, I will be in that emotion while performing a scene, which happens on its own. The audience should forget they are watching Vikram and travel with my character. Maybe, things have to do with some luck? As long as I am on fire and passionate about what I am doing, I am cool. Just kidding. As an actor, I ask myself — did I enjoy the process? “The moment someone asks uncomfortable questions, I trouble them in return. Nowhere you would find me slip. Besides, I have Mahavir Karna and Ajay Gnanamuthu’s next that has music by AR Rahman. I don’t want to do any film that reflects me. It’s hard to reach you. Moviemaking, itself, is not easy. Do you read reviews? On the third day, I will get into the groove. After proving myself as a director with six to seven hits, I will. I know I can be a good director. I am forever this guy who plays pranks on people. Once I transform myself into that character, everything falls into place. Over these years, I realise I have inculcated a particular trait that I don’t know how I developed. When I was shooting, the make-up man would catch some sleep. Reviews can get confusing. You aren’t trained in acting, yet you are a method actor. That’s what keeps me going and I like it this way. Dhruv has a father who could put him there, but unfortunately, it wasn’t the case with me. We shot for 55 days and it was challenging to see that we had continuity in emotions and shots. Nothing was easy. KK is also grey. Is that your way of saying I am becoming old? I want to give my son the best of things. I work on it. He is unpredictable, swag and menacing. Even if you aren’t doing something extraordinary, it is still a task. It becomes more challenging, in case, you want to do something physically demanding or ‘different’. During Sivaji (Ganesan) sir’s period, it was all dramatic. It’s easier said than done, right? It is for myself. You can neither call him good nor bad. And it’s difficult for an Indian actor to be part of a regional film that resembles a Hollywood venture. Being a perfectionist, again. No actor can say he knows it all and the day he says so—will be the end of his career. 0
Comment(s) It’s actually strange for someone who isn’t trained in acting. I become that guy. It is too late to ask. I wake up at 5 am, go to the gym — I come back, I horse-ride. Advertising

I am working with Mani Ratnam on Ponniyin Selvan. (Laughs)
What are your upcoming projects? What matters to me is the journey, not the destination. Nothing can rise above the bad script and it hurts when my films don’t do well. But I manage pretty well,” he laughs. I never take my work for granted. But on the sets, I was anything but these. I don’t think so. When I speak to a director, I get a hang of my role and know what he is expecting. My career is summed up by the decisions I have made.