There are actors and stars but only a few combine star presence with acting performance. With Gemini proving to be a big hit, Vikram is the hottest property in town. He is doing films like, Samurai, King, Kadhal Sadugudu,Athisayam,Dhool and Super Good Film's next film. His career has been on the upswing ever since he notched two big hits Sethu and Dhill and the recent Gemini. Sify.com talked to this unassuming actor in the living room of his aesthetically done up house in Besant Nagar. Exerpts:
Q: Can you tell us something about youself until Sethu happened?
A: I was modelling and had even done a serial on DD. Then I did my first film in Tamil, Thanthuvitten Ennai and a few Telugu and Malayalam films. I was very keen to do more Malayalam films but people there never saw me as an actor who could emote, but as a good dancer and fighter.
Q: How did Sethu happen?
A: When director Bala had the script ready, he had approached a few big names in the industry to play the lead role, but nobody was willing to experiment with a new director and give bulk dates. Added to that the character in the film also had to shave his head, which no big actor would do. So the chance came to me. When we started the shoot, I realised the first day itself that the film is going to shape out well. And when we were shooting the climax, Bala said that there is no need of shaving my head, but I was insistent that the character has to look natural and I did it.
Q: And it paid off! You became a big star with Sethu?
A: Success speaks louder than an actor. It is not your looks or your acting capabilities but a ‘big hit’ that counts. Any actor becomes a star only after you deliver a smash hit. And in my case I had to wait for almost 10 years to get that hit and ‘Chiyaan’ of Sethu made me a household name. Even the other day while I was shooting near Mahabalipuram a few young boys came up to me and asked me “ Chiyaan, What is your real name?” When I told them that my name is Kuppusamy, they believed!
Q: How did you prepare yourself to the role of Chiyaan?
A: I really worked hard for the role. In the first half of the film I had to be myself and in the second half I had to look totally different. When Tom Hanks the Hollywood actor lost 30 pounds (15 kilos) for Cast Away, the press went to town about it, and here I lost about 16 kilos and nobody cared to write about it! Moreover the film took two years to be completed and I could not take any new offers. I put my heart and soul into the film and Bala, the perfectionist was extremely happy about the end product.
Q: After Sethu became a big hit, what were your plans?
A: I was extremely careful about the roles I took, but Mannukkum Vinnukkum did not turn out the way I thought it would. Then Dhill happened. For this film I had to put on weight and build up muscles. My character in the film was a guy waiting to join the Police department and I had a trainer coming home and I used to work out for four hours everyday. Dhill was the biggest grosser of 2001.
Q: How do hits and flops matter to you now?
A: I feel that success should not get into your head and failure should never bring you down. I am a levelheaded person. I have reached her due to a lot a perseverance and hard work. I cannot let it go from me because of my behaviour and I try to be nice to everybody as much as I can. I’ve never been overtly ambitious and the harder I fall, the higher I rise.
Q: You are compared with Kamalhassan often. Comment
A: I don’t think I can be compared to Kamalhassan. My style is different from him or even Sivaji sir.
Q: How did you do Kasi which was an offbeat film at a time when you were touted as an action hero?
A: A lot of people asked me the same question at that time. Even my manager told me that I’m crazy to do such a film at that point of my career, but I told him to wait and watch. Believe me, I am so happy that I did Kasi and as an actor I was able to experiment with a new subject. Incidentally Kalabhavan Mani who did the original in Malayalam is my favourite actor.
Q: Are you happy the way Gemini has shaped out?
A: Gemini is my first big budget film and the film is doing extraordinarily well right now. The songs are mind blowing and are picturised very well.
Q: What do you keep in mind when signing a new film?
A: First my role then the entire script and finally the direction. These are the factors that excite me. I want my producer and the distributors to make money out of my film. I don’t believe in hiking my salary with each film. Money is not the ultimate for me. I believe that you can’t buy happiness and I have tons of it right now. I lead a very happy life with my lovely wife and two kids.