Sedhu, director Bala’s masterpiece released in 1999 and Vikram exploded on the big screen, almost a full decade after his debut in 1990 with a film that few people have heard of and even fewer have watched. Vikram wasn’t exactly a nobody because film buffs were cognizant of the ‘Oh Butterfly’ guy or the cute, chocolate baby from Ullasam. However, stardom had eluded Vikram completely and he is known to have doggedly persevered by doing small – budget films in Telugu and Malayalam while also working as a dubbing artiste for the likes of Prabhu Deva and Ajith Kumar. It is astonishing that a towering talent like his went unrecognized for so long but the heartening thing is Vikram is a star now and deservedly so.
At the time, Sedhu released, I was cramming for my Xth standard board exams over the Christmas holidays. My mother had just started watching the film and I paused disinterestedly wondering if I should waste time watching a Vikram film since I had preferred Ajith’s bad boy to Vikram’s sensitive, poetry spewing character in Ullasam which was the only film of his I had actually seen or get back to my hated Maths text book especially since I was terrified of flunking the damned subject. It was the scene where Sedhu stops his junior irritably and asks her why she has a peacock feather tucked into her book. The doe – eyed heroine earnestly replies that she is hoping it would have little ones and that is the moment, the hero falls for her. And that was when, I became a fan. Later, I dragged my mother to the theatre because Sedhu was a movie which deserved to be watched on the big screen and not on a pirated VCD (Note to readers: Piracy sucks and should not be encouraged. Note to those who are dissing me for watching a pirated VCD and then writing about it: I was just a kid worried about flunking Math and did not know better.)
Vikram is one of the most intense actors to grace the big screen and his ability to emote through his eyes is simply amazing. Bala has made the most of his talent to date and his performances in Sedhu and Pithamagan, where he played a gravedigger to perfection remain his finest performance to date. Vikram also excels as the action hero and established his skills in this genre with films like Dhill, Dhool, Gemini and Saamy. A proper action hero is one who can make you actually believe, even if it is only for the duration of a scene, that he is capable of beating up entire armies of goondas with nothing but his bare fists. Vikram does it with gusto and really sells it to his audience.
By now, tales of Vikram’s commitment to his craft and the lengths he goes to breathe life into the characters he plays on celluloid are the stuff of legend. For his characters in Sedhu and Pithamagan he starved himself to within an inch of his life and also lay under the scorching Chennai sun to look the part. He beefed up for his roles in Dhill and Dhool and packed on the pounds to fit the parts he played in Bheema and Saamy. For his role as an autistic individual in Deiva Thirumagal, Vikram did his research and stunned the rest of the unit by staying in character even after the director yelled, “Cut!”.
While it is nice that Vikram takes his job so seriously there are times, when this fan wishes that he wouldn’t take himself so seriously. Because, when Vikram turns in a restrained performance there are few actors in the world who can hold their own against him but when he goes over the top, there are few who are as cringe – inducing. Vikram’s Ambi and Remo from Anniyan are examples of when the restraint he is famous for abandons him completely and leaves one squirming in the seat because with Vikram, you expect a lot and when you are disappointed you want to go over the top yourself and scream and shake your fist at him. But then he comes along with a Deiva Thirumagal where he proves once again that he is brilliant and also has that rare thing in an artiste called humility, so you forgive him his cinematic sins. Despite being a major star, he was content to give precedence to the script which demanded that he share screen space with other powerfully etched characters and stick to the sidelines. Or perhaps it wasn’t humility but a sublime self – confidence that comes with an awareness of one’s greatness, of the ease with which he can be the scene – stealer despite having fewer scenes than the average hero. Be that as it may, it is a commendable quality either way.
Vikram has many awards under his belt including the National award and he is the darling of the critics. Recently he was honored with a doctorate from the University of Milan. Now the actor’s latest offering, Thaandavam is gearing up for release. It is supposed to be about a cop who is blind but is still deadly because he sees with his ears thanks to a skill he has called, echolocation. Whether Vikram, delivers or disappoints remains to be seen but we, his fans always have faith in him. So it is sure to be awesome! And when he is done wouldn’t it be cool if he decides to do a proper negative character? And hopefully he won’t lose himself in the character so completely that he winds up in prison!Respond to
This page hosts the views of the authors of the column. The views are generally about films, movie reviews, movie news, songs, music, film actors and actresses, directors, producers, cinematographers, music directors, and all others that contribute for the success or failure of a film. People looking for movies online, movie reviews, movie analysis, public response for a movie, will find this page useful.