Vikram - discusses about his ambitions and Telugu ventures
Vikram is a very jovial and down to earth person. He was in Hyderabad recently promoting his film Majaa which is geared up for release this Diwali. Rockline Venkatesh
is the producer. During his stay in Hyderabad, Phani met up with him at Taj Banjara for a brief interview. The following are the excerpts from the interview. He is an amicable and media friendly guy. He smokes and claims that giving up cigarette is an easy thing since you can give it up every day. This interview proves the open and frankness of Vikram. He talks on various subjects and film industries. Read on.
Why Majaa now?
I always wanted to do different characters. For example how I looked in my last film will be entirely different from my latest film, with face or body. After Sivaputrudu and Aparichitudu, I wanted to do totally different film, totally remote film. Never have I thought on the lines of 'for this season I should make a film'. But this time, I thought I should make a special film for Diwali. And when I got to know the story of Majaa, it really excited me.
It is such a nice commercial picture; audience will say a commercial picture should be like this. It might start a trend. We already saw the film and it is very good. I got feedback in the form of compliments from Censor board. There is violence but it is controlled. Children can see it. Comedy track is interleaved into the film. In fact I got compliments from Radhika and Sarat Kumar too. They said the film is very good.
After Aparichithudu we kept Telugu market in mind. We got the stunt master from Telugu. Dance masters were from both fields. We paid close attention to costumes too so that they dont look different in either of the languages. Whole picture is a good combination of humor, sentiment action and every thing. It is what I wanted to do and not regular run-of-the-mill commercial.
So you say this is going to be trend-setter.
May be. There is action but no violence. There is comedy but not a separate track. There are dialogues but not vulgar. The whole movie is a family entertainer.
The promos show some rain songs?
But there is no sensuality or sexuality. Itís a very clean song. It is pleasing. We wanted to make a clean family entertainer for this Diwali. I assure
I just thought Diwali. It's our season. Diwali, Pongal are our season (laughs).
What is up for Pongal?
AM Ratnam's film might start for Pongal. There is lot of work for Majaa. So I want a 2 month break.
Who is the director for Ratnam's film?
It is not yet finalized yet. Lingasamy, Gautam, Perarasu.. There are few names in mind.
Will it be in Telugu?
Usually all AM Ratnam films are in both Telugu and Tamil. Definitely it will be in Telugu too.
What about your Telugu straight film?
I am doing a straight Telugu film after long time. So I am looking for very good script. I am working with Gunasekhar, Vinayak, Rajamouli
on that. I donít know the timeframe. It might start in next 2 months or after 2 years. We are working for an excellent script.
So is it that you are considering only three directors or any director with good script?
Actually I have a director in mind. We have been discussing. But nothing is confirmed yet.
What is confirmed is that my first film will be for BVSN Prasad (producer of Chatrapati). It should be like big launch with the right kind of script.
What type of story are you looking for?
Something really different, be it performance oriented or action oriented.
You mentioned Rajamouli, Vinayak. They both are actually masters of elevating hero character. So are you looking in that direction?
I saw the trailers of Rajamouli. All the directors I mentioned are top think tanks. I am not sticking myself to films like Sethu, Pitahmagan since
I got national award. My style in Tamil is different. Sivaji garu, Kamal garu have one kind of style. MGR garu, Rajani garu have different style.
I have been trying to go in the middle. See! When the audience expects something from me, I want to shock them with a different thing. When Sethu came every one appreciated. Then I made couple of commercial films. With Dhil, people suggested that I am then settled good with commercial films. Then they were shocked to see Kasi. No one encouraged me for that film. They suggested that commercial film line is tough and when I am enjoying plethora of it, why should I change my line? But I wanted to do it and I did it. The film did very well. So people said that it is good and so I can settle in the style of Kamal, doing variety films. I shocked them again with Gemini. Gemini is a full length mass film. I donít know what is there in the film. Some said it ran because of one song. Some said it is because of fights. I just want to do different roles. Some thing has got to move me in the script.
It's kind of Aparichitudu in me. One side of me wants to do commercial films and the other side wants to do performance-oriented. I like to satisfy both. But what I don't want to do is run-of-the-mill. Even if I do a commercial film, it should be different. I have done only few films in Tmil. But when they released, they were spoken-about-movies of that season. There are some films like Arul. We didnít even think about the complete script. It came after Sami with the same director.
But those are the lessons you learn.
Irrespective of what language I do, I am sure it will reach most in Telugu with right performance. I am not in a hurry to do the film.
I know I will get the right script that will excite me.
Audience think that you got into a pattern of one commercial and one typical.
Nothing of that sort. After Dhool, I did Sami. Both are commercial films.
Do you watch Telugu movies?
I donít watch Tamil movies too (laughs). I donít get to watch my own films. In fact I saw Pitahmagan after 1 month. Now, I have to see my movies.
For other movies, I want to see but don't find time. We usually have Mayajal or drive-in theaters. I see films that run in either of the theaters.
Aparichithudu is a bigger hit than Anniyan. It is still running after 125 days.
I am really excited with the response in the theaters. Frankly, I did not go to any Anniyan theaters.
But I went to all the theaters of Aparichithudu.
The response is amazing.
You have done 9 nelalu, Bangaru kutumbam. You were playing side characters and now you are a demanding actor. What do u think of it.
It is naturally a good feeling. After all, that is the dream when I came into movies - To do good films with good producers and good directors.
Do you intend to direct?
There is a lot of work to do, lot of characters. So I will concentrate on acting. It is not that I am not interested. I worked as an assistant director before. For Majaa I got involved in many things. I designed costumes, few sets, and you could say I am the assistant director too.
Seems to be an allrounder.
I like getting involved. But again it depends on the team. Usually after the shooting, everyone will go to their rooms. But with this unit, we gather after the film and talk about what to do etc. Infact this unit is so comfortable that we are waiting to get together again.
Did you ever wonder if Sivaputrudu will click when you okayed the subject?
Yes. We were confident. I have confidence in Bala. He has a talent to shock the audience. He didnt narrate the story to me. He explained the character and I okayed it immediately. There is only one dialogue for that character in the entire film - when he sees the dead body. I knew Sivaputrudu will really rob. I said one dialogue is fine.
What is your input into Sivaputrudu?
When you do it with Bala, it is Bala's framework. When we did Sethu, I was a little bit confused. In Malayalam, you got to be natural, very natural. That is what is appreciated there. In Telugu, you should be dramatic. But I didn't know which side to go in Tamil. I was a bit confused. But you see this thin small man (Bala) who is as confident as one Mani Ratnam or Shankar. I am sure, only Bala could do films like Pitamagan. Without Bala I couldn't have done that role. He has got the trick to convince even the fantasy characters.
I give total credit to Bala.
Any films with Mani Ratnam?
I was called by Mani Ratnam for Yuva. This film has got all three key characters. I liked the role of Madhavan's the best. I was offered any of the three roles. All the characters are good. The script is such that when it is surya's character, you cannot think of the others.
With Madhavan's story running, the other two are not in sight. I told him I would okay the role if
the other two are done by Ajit and Vijay. But he wanted to cast one upcoming actor. Then there will be this problem of balancing the roles
and domination aspects.
At one point you were given bad roles in Telugu and now the Telugu producers are running behind you. Donít you have think it is unfair?
I will tell you one example. When Nagarjuna is doing Rachagan, the assistant director of the film came and commented that why should Nag come all the way here to do the film. He claimed that he spoke to the producer and director about casting me. I said thank you. After a few months, this friend of mine started a film. I went to attend the pooja also. After the film released (it was a super duper hit), I saw that the film has one character of hero's friend that has equal importance. I felt that at least my friend could have casted me for that role. The point here is, it is the business of Cinema. Marketability of the star makes a lot of difference. Cinema is all about success. So there is nothing fair or unfair here. I understand the whole thing. You cant blame them. They are investing lot of money. That is how even life is.
Do you feel it as advantage or disadvantage that they are dubbing all your old films?
I donít react because the audience knows the difference. They know that this is a very old dubbing film. But for Majaa their expectations will be different. In Kerala, Andhra or Tamilnadu, every week there is an interview or something elated to me in the media. so there is a
hype created and I am happy about it.
What do u find difference between Telugu and Tamil films?
I love Telugu films. In terms of budget, Telugu films are big. Malayalam is usually small and with Tamil it gets big but Telugu films are heavy budgeted. Performance wise you should be natural and you should be yourself in Malayalam.
They are so subtle. Telugu is more dramatic but Tamil is in between.
Major difference in the industries is with fans. Malayalam fans are very volatile. Even if you do a small role and you do well, they adore you.
But even after giving 100 super hit films, you do one bad film, you are straight down. They are not usually bothered. Respect in the industry also changes. In Malayalam industry, the respect is very limited. In Telugu, they give you lot of respect. Even in my first film, they referred to me as Vikram garu. They could have just said Vikram.
So there is lot of respect. Production boys, drivers every one will give you so much respect. You feel as if they are your real fans. That's not usually the case even in Chennai. It is usually moderate in Tamil. They will remember you forever irrespective of hits or flops. With Telugu audience, they give you so much of love and they are sweet. They come and ask Autographs even if you are nothing.
For the same reason I love watching films in Telugu theaters. They love you so much here.
Why do you think Telugu is very dramatic?
It is like that. I was shocked to learn that sivaputrudu did very good in Telugu since the film was more natural and not much dramatic. Now the audiences are changing and that is why there are more new directors coming up. There is lot of excitement in the films here.
Who is your favorite director?
Bala. We share an interesting relationship. I am usually referred to as Chiyyan Vikram and thats because of Bala.
Earlier there was buzz that you were asked to play role in Ramadasu.
Yes. What picture did you say (the whole media goes into laughter).
We didnít even take it to discussions. We were having just a friendly chat and media assumed it.
Any idea of getting into Bollywood?
I had couple of offers. Firstly, I donít know Hindi. Secondly, they take a lot of time. I want to focus on projects at home.
Any projects with RGV?
We spoke before. Nothing confirmed yet.
What about music?
I am a professional bathroom singer. In fact I did sing the climax of Oo Podu from Gemini and title song of one film Sri. I will sing
for other heroes films but not for my film (laughs). I usually prefer soft music and slow music... like Bryan Adams. As told by many,
Sound of Telugu songs is very nice.
With that Vikram concluded the interview.