Vikram belongs to that cadre of actors to whom dedication comes first before the self and would go to any extent to play it realistically. He reduced his weight by 16 Kgs for the sake of ‘Sethu’ and now he is playing the role of a sight-impaired for ‘Kasi.’ We met Vikram in the sets of ‘Kasi.’
‘When I saw the Malayalam movie, ‘Vasanthiyum, Latchumiyum pinna naanum,’ I was thrilled,’ said Vikram, ‘and decided that moment that I should play the role which Kalabhavan Mani did in that movie. He had played the role of a sight-impaired so impressively well. But it was not easy for me to keep the pupil of my up under the eyelid, as did Kalabhavan Mani. Then I thought ‘when it was possible for Mani, why not me?’ and trained myself regularly with single-minded devotion, daily.’
‘It was only after I could do it convincingly well that I approached director Vinayan and told him that I would play the role in the Tamil version of the movie.’ But Vinayan came out with another idea. He said that there was no need for me to go through such a difficult job. I can better wear contact lens, specially available for the purpose and play the role. I could not accept this. That would affect a realistic portrayal.’
‘And then when the shooting started, I faced difficulty of another kind. If I concentrated on dialogue delivery, the pupil of the eye would not remain in place; and if I concentrated on that, I would lose out on dialogue.’ (Laughs)
‘We therefore stopped with the shooting of first scene. Then I underwent an intense self-training. I could do it only with regular and continued training. It was very painful initially. But when I got used to it and did it without much effort, half the movie was shot already. May be, if I am asked to play a second innings now, I won’t find it that difficult!’
‘Since you have played the role of a visually-handicapped there is no doubt that you will earn the sympathy of the audience,’ we told him and asked, ‘But the people want action heroes. Do you think that the role of a visually impaired would fulfil their expectations convincingly?’
‘Sure. For certain. This is a real good role. But ‘Kasi’ would be a real hero, throughout the movie.’
You reduced your weight for ‘Sethu’ and now you have gone through a really difficult training - that too with respect to your eyes. What makes you take such kind of risks?’ we asked him.
‘It is my yearning for the applause from my audience,’ said Vikram. ‘I was told when acting for ‘Kasi’ that there was no use in putting in extra efforts and overstraining for the movie, because Kalabhavan Mani had already received a national award for playing the role. Moreover, this was only a remake. A remake doesn’t stand a chance of getting any award.’
‘As far as I am concerned, I would be happy if I am the recipient of an award. But it is more important for me to win the approval of my audience. More over, I have lost the Best Actor award for my performance in Sethu. I therefore do not attach much importance to it now.’
‘How did you reduce 16 Kgs for Sethu?’
Simple. I stopped eating. I survived on fruit juice and nothing else. My blood pressure dropped and doctors warned me about low-pressure. I did not pay any heed to that. I was firm till the end of the movie.’
‘There was an English movie by name Cast Away. Its hero would reach an uninhabited island. He would suffer without food and would become skinny. They adopted scientific methods. He consulted a doctor and reduced his intake as advised by him and reduced 8 kgs for the movie. But the method that I adopted was very ‘local’. Just stop eating. That’s all. I was amply rewarded for my efforts. The press paid rich tributes. ‘Sethu’ was called the ‘movie of the century.’ That’s enough for me!
TamilmaganTr. by Hari Krishnan