: Bala | Camera : P.Ganesh Babu & Hamananth |
Text : Daya Kingston
Vijay is riding the crest of success after Malai Malai.
The hard-working and talented actor has just got his
fair share of the spotlight after years of toil. Maanja
Velu is released and we catch the excitement.
you tell us about Maanja Velu?
Maanja Velu is the second film from Feathertouch Entertainment,
our own production house. It comes after Malai Malai’s
success and we have onboard the same team. The Director
A. Venkatesh, cameraman Venkatesh combo has clicked
in all the films they have worked together. We have
used top technicians like Kanal Kannan for action, Dinesh
master for choreography, Mani Sharma for music, Vaali
for lyrics, VT Vijayan for editing and so on.
What is very important in the film is the star cast.
Karthik makes his re-entry into Tamil cinema after
6 years and I am working with him for the first time,
a superb experience. He is a senior artiste and performing
each scene with him elicits my best. He acts as my
brother and we were like real brothers. We wanted
to have big artistes to justify each role and spent
a lot of time in casting, you will find a whole army
of artistes - Anu Hasan, Dhanshika my heroine, my
dad Vijayakumar, Prabhu, Chandrasekar, Riyaz Khan,
Ilavarasan, Thyagu, Nizhalgal Ravi... Comedy will
be a big plus as it’s a wholesome entertainer
with action and comedy with veteran comedians like
Santhanam, Ganja Karuppu, Manohar, and Singamuthu.
We did a lot of pre-production and Santhanam even
prepared his own scenes. Everyone was very involved
and the comedy was so hilarious that even while working
we were laughing. The fast-paced screenplay and direction
is awesome. It will be a lovely treat and I guarantee
you can watch it with family.
Maanja Velu is a commercial entertainer and like
Malai Malai gave me a different look, this film does
too. While making this film we did not target particular
audience and we wanted it to be enjoyed by all. All
departments did their best and I would like to thank
all the technicians who put in their best, right from
the dialogue writer to the lyricist, assistant director,
director, cameraman, and a good package. This is a
character I have never attempted before, one with
a lot of emotion, family values and all elements of
entertainment. I can bravely say the climax will be
one that you have never seen before and when you leave
the theater it will be a different experience.
How was it performing
the action sequences?
I had lots of unforgettable experiences at the shooting
spot. Fights were very important and we shot them
for nearly 45 days, choreographed by Kanal Kannan.
I never use dupes in any of my films for the stunts
and have undertaken many risky stunts despite my parents
and other advising me against it.
Today’s audience has accepted me as an action
hero in Malai Malai and I want to do something new
in action. For the introduction fight, I have totally
shaved my hair for the first time; I have 2 getups
in the film. For 7 days I had to hang upside down
for a fight scene. Everybody knows that even if you
hang upside down for a day, the blood will rush to
the head and create pressure and when master told
me, I said ok but while doing it I found it physically
and mentally stressful but the output was really awesome
and amazing. It will be a visual treat. There was
a composition of 8 to 9 fighters and me hanging upside
down to be filmed in one single shot. However once
it was done, they removed the camera and forgot that
I was hanging upside down 15 ft in the air until one
of the fighters realized I was still there and they
helped me get down.
What was your
experience working with Karthik and Prabhu?
Working with Karthik was a gift as he is spontaneous
and I had to do it carefully as I have watched many
of his films as a fan keenly, he has excellent comedy
senses and it was challenging to work with him. In
one comedy sequence, we mock my girlfriend, I imitated
my sister-in-law’s voice and he would speak
like a sick man. The director was waiting to say cut,
but Karthik improvised and continued dialogues that
were not in the script and I responded. When we finished,
there were claps all around and I am sure the audience
will enjoy it.
I always had the regret that I never had the opportunity
to work with Sivaji but working with Prabhu sir has
made up. I have learnt a lot from him.
How did you feel
after the Malai Malai victory?
Malai Malai was my first commercial hit and this is
important to every actor to gain hero status and business
increase. It brought me many fans who told me that
they liked to watch me in such roles and said the
action was super! I thank everyone who made it a success
and while it was running I had the opportunity to
visit 76 theatres and watch the film as part of the
audience. I met fans and asked them their likes and
dislikes. I am happy that fans appreciated me and
gave me suggestions. They asked me to do a cop role.
Before Malai Malai, I was a little confused about
my career but with its success, people have shown
me the action route.
have been constantly working with Director Venkatesh.
Not like that, he is a lovely
director and he is comfortable to work with.
He has given me my first commercial hit and
is my father-in-law Thiru M.S. Mohan’s
very close friend, So, when we started our own
venture, we approached him first. He knows the
pulse of the audience, my potential and how
he can portray me to the audience in the best
way. Before he made the script of Malai Malai,
he spent a lot of time analyzing and researching
my old films. There is a strong bonding between
us. During the making of Maanja Velu, I shared
a lot of ideas with him and if they were good
he would accept. He gels well with our company.
There is a strong bonding
Jananam was not released
us about your initial films and the ones you liked?
Although I have filmi background, I faced a lot
of struggle. As an actor, everyone only knew me
as so-and-so’s son. Only after finishing
one film, would I take up another so that it would
come out well and worked on select scripts. However
at that point, my maturity level was not as high
as I had just finished school and joined college
and immediately joined cinema. However, I learnt
a lot. There are a few films I like very much
even if they were not commercial successes, for
instance Jananam, all those who saw it praised
me but Jananam was not released properly.
I have done a few films but I am happy that even then
the films have made as strong impression like Pandavar
Bhoomi. Thulli Thirinda Kaalam, I had the satisfaction
of having worked on good films. Though, I never had
a commercial hit I had no regrets, I felt that when
the Almighty destined it, it would happen. On our side,
we must patiently work, that’s something my father
always told me. I equipped myself, I knew only cinema.
I never let myself get down and must mention the support
from fans, family and press. Even when I felt down,
a call would come from somewhere, somebody saying don’t
worry the next time you will do better. My work was
cent per cent appreciated. I was not to be blamed for
other factors. Now it has clicked I have the maturity
to select script.
have you suddenly turned action hero?
I have always enjoyed
action and was very involved in it. I knew beforehand
that action is along standing vision all those
who have taken the action route have stayed.
I had the confidence I could do new things as
I prepared myself. Everyone appreciated my fights
and Malai Malai was a stamp, it was like fans
were showing me a path. The victory gave me
a new responsibility that I had to select a
good story. Action would be there as a baseline.
The audience must feel that I would bring something
new to action besides new songs, comedy and
entertainment. Maanja Velu wills satisfy everyone.
I have decided not to do similar films. But
action stars in Hollywood have explored new
lines of action which I will too.
fans were showing me a path
I would have done 3 Idiots if
Malai Malai had not happened
you act in a film like 3 Idiots?
Aamir’s acting in 3 Idiots really inspired
me; I would really like to do something like it.
I would have done 3 Idiots if Malai Malai had
not happened. However, now I can’t take
any drastic move as an action image has set in.
Maybe I can try such projects after 4 to 5 films.
I have to establish myself as a proper action
hero and see what my audiences expect
you planning to direct a film?
I don’t know what gave
you the idea. Direction is not a joke and not
everyone can do it. It is not only direction;
I have an interest in cinematography and scriptwriting
too. Any actor must know what happens behind
the camera to emote well. I take Kamal Sir as
my inspiration, he is still known as a good
actor because he is technically strong. Once
my scenes are over, I stay with the cameraman
and look at the monitor and talk to him and
watch what he does. I went to the New York Film
Academy and did a film making course and I guess
the question is based on that. No, I am not
going to direct at the moment, it’s just
an exposure, I am focused on being an actor
and want to give it my best shot.
Direction is not a joke
My wife is a good critic
your wife review your work?
My wife is a good critic and after watching each
film points out the positives and negatives. Earlier
it was my sisters; so after watching a film, I
would go and stand in the corner as I would not
know what they were going to stay. Now my wife
watches lots of films, Indian and English and
has a lot of interest. She has a passion for cinema
and I take her suggestions as an audience and
fan. She tells me what she feels frankly. She
is very supportive and I am happy and correct
the small things she points out in the next film.
Does your wife
make any conditions on your onscreen romances with heroines?
No nothing like that because before marriage I explained
to her about the industry and my work. She knows about
me. She understands that I work in an entertainment
field where we work to make people happy.
How did you find
a place amongst big heroes?
First, my father-in-law, being a businessman he knows
how to make a product saleable and to bring out a new
one. Even though I did lot of hard work, making it reach
the audience correctly is a different thing. He knew
the combination and the amount. Malai Malai was 5 or
6 times bigger than a normal production and he had the
guts to take the risk. When you take a risk, the output
shows! Maanja Velu is spectacular. Only when one takes
a big step, one can reach the next level. I thank him.
What kind of homework
have you done for the action role?
No specific homework but I have been training myself
in martial arts, gymnastics, horse riding and keep updating
myself.. That has helped me, my body has become more
flexible, and even if I have to do a classical dance
I can do it. I can grasp dance steps easily. I am currently
undertaking vigorous physical training as each film
is different and I want to show the figure differently
for each film. For instance in Malai Malai, I was a
tough villager, in Maanja Velu I reveal a different
get up. I have been learning action bike stunts and
have completed 3 levels in sky diving training with
5 more to go for my license. Then I can perform anywhere
in the world and jump from 14000 feet. I can promise
that my films will always have something new. I know
that only if you risk you can go high. Also if one is
untrained such stunts are risky but if we train it’s
not so risky and makes people watch in awe
What is your role
in Kaaval Thurai like?
This is the next venture of Feathertouch Entertainments
and will be spectacular. For the first time, I play
a police character. Kaaval Thurai means Police Department
and this film will not focus on a particular police
officer. We have gathered lot of research and will show
things never shown before. It will have plenty of action
and I am really thrilled as I have been working very
hard. The same team has worked on it but there will
be no impact of the previous films. This is a multi-starrer
and I share the screen with many people. I do not want
to be there in every frame. It will be interesting if
many characters are there.
Will you do realistic
Oh, I like realistic roles very much. I have acted in
Pandavar Bhoomi, I had a very good director Cheran and
it was a good experience. However, in today’s
race what I need to look at what people like business
wise. In a small budget, one can do realistic roles
but when there are many crores involved things are different,
I have to look at the returns. If I really like a realistic
story I will do it. However, any such decision will
be post 4-5 films.
How does your father
The reason I came into the industry was my father. I
was inspired by his acting and started liking the field.
He introduced me as a hero but when it comes to acting
style I don’t follow him and am very cautious.
He also does not tell me how to act so my individuality
comes through. He gives me all freedom and encourages
me to develop my skills by doing courses. He is a veteran
actor and I will uphold his name. After he saw the first
copy of Maanja Velu, he hugged me. For the first time,
a big appreciation I can’t forget, I think he
is the best dad. We are six daughters and just one son,
but he treats all of us as equal. He keeps track of
all kids and I am happy to have him as my dad.