He is undoubtedly an all-rounder superstar. He is the undisputed king at the ticket counters and his record of box-office success is unmatched and his films have collectively made more business than any other hero and even his severe critics have recognised his astounding reach and potential.
After a lukewarm Villu released early this year, a lot was riding for Ilayathalapathy on his new release Vattaikaran. And today, Vijay is all smiles after the film has been declared a hit by the trade.
The film did not have any big names like a big director, top comedian, top music director and added to that a heroine who is a newcomer to Tamil. But all the buyers and distributors in Tamilnadu and Kerala are happy that the money they invested on the star has paid off.
In this exclusive first-ever interview, after Vettaikaran release, Vijay sheds his famous reticence and talks non-stop, to Sify.com. Excerpts
Why do you go into a hiding before the release of your films and avoid the press?
I know that media activity is part of my job but I tend to avoid it. Personally I prefer not to talk about my films prior to release and think that my film should speak for itself. And in the case of Vettaikaran, Sun Pictures was going full steam with promotions, so there was no need for me to do anything more (smiles).
What is the reaction of Vettaikaran from your fans and audiences? Did you watch the film in a theatre?
I love to watch my films in theatres to see the audience reaction. But now I have stopped it, as it creates unnecessary problem for all concerned. I want my fans to watch the film in peace and not to be disturbed, by my presence.
So how do you gauge a film?
I have my family and close friends who are my biggest critics. They will only point out the negatives first and then come to the highlights. I am also very lucky to have fans who feed me with the precise report of which scene, dialogue or song worked.
Do you take criticism and negative publicity in your stride?
Of course, yes. Enakku ethellam pazhagipochu .. (I have been used to all this) and I donít get carried away by success or failures.
Do you do a post-mortem of your films?
Yes, I do. That has worked to my advantage and I try to better with every film.
Tell us about the songs in Vettaikaran which is a major plus for the film? And which is your favourite?
Vijay Antonyís songs are all peppy and mass numbers which have been placed and picturised well in the narrative. Among all the songs I rate Puli Urumudhu... and Naan Adichal... as my favourite.
Read review of Vettaikaran on sify.com!
You have tried different looks in the songs. Please comment?
(Laughs) These songs are all imagination songs and I like to try out something new in every film. When we were shooting for the song Kalikalan.. song, Dinesh master tossed up this idea to do an Aamir Khan act like the Tata Sky ad, where right-half of me is a girl and the left-half is a guy! I was initially hesitant as I had to take off my moustache and I could not imagine doing it. Later I thought it is a wacky idea, which is very challenging! From make up to costume, there was a lot of minute detailing. I took off half my moustache and we shot that particular scene after completing the film and incorporated it to the song. I think it was worth the trouble as my fans love it. And for the Oru Chinna Thamarai..., song when we brainstormed about how to look different, Banu suggested that why donít I try long hair, which I always wanted to.
Ilayathalapathy Vijay has stormed the Chennai Box Office!
Why donít you work with big directors and try out something different deviating from your usual formula?
I am ready. (Smiles) Are producers and distributors game for it?
Which is the favourite scene in Vettaikaran?
It is the 20 minutes of the second half when the villain played by Salim Ghouse takes me on a guided tour of his businessís and I walk behind him silently listening to all his boasting and at the end of it start reacting in a different manner. I loved this scene even when the director narrated it to me and trust me that this particular scene is getting maximum claps and whistling in theatres.
Is Sura, your 50th film follow the same formula pattern?
It is too early to comment on Sura. All I can say is that, the film is almost 50 percent complete and it is shaping up well.