Sporting a black a tee and denim trousers, with backward-combed salt-and-pepper hair secured in a unisex spiral hair band, Chiyaan Vikram entered the venue of the press meet accompanied by a loud round of shrieks from fans, mostly women. Such adulation for a superstar is rather unheard of even in Malayalam film industry. But then, Vikram has always got a huge fan following in Kerala. At 53, he is not a novice when it comes to making his fans comfortable with witty dialogues; there was no surprise when fans encroached on the room masquerading as journalists. That, however, did not deter him from replying to their queries.
The actor, who was in Thiruvananthapuram in connection with the promotion of his latest Tamil flick Kadaram Kondan (conqueror of Kadaram), is trying his best to come up with a successful hit with the action thriller written and directed by Rajesh M. Selva.
Though lauded for his performances, many of the National Award-winning actor’s films had failed to become box office hits. After I did well at the box office in Kerala in 2015, and his later films 10 Enradhukulla, a road movie, and Iru Mugan, a sci-fi action thriller, failed to fare well, Vikram is back with a bang. For quite some time, he was seen mostly in stylish films, but surprisingly, he states, “I am not bothered about my style in films. The actor in me wishes to play for the gallery doing raw roles that come my way.”
Vikram’s latest flick is doing well in all A, B and C class theatres in Tamil Nadu and he hopes to replicate in his second home Kerala.
The film Kadaram Kondan, a fast-paced movie on par with a Hollywood film, is not just a remake of the 2010 French film Point Blank, but the 45th film produced by Kamal Haasan under Raaj Kamal Films International. Kamal’s younger daughter Akshara plays the romantic interest of Abi Haasan, son of Nassar, in the movie. All praise for Kamal, Vikram says, “If not for the living legend and his films, I would not have come before the camera. Initially an assistant director, I learnt the nuances of acting and direction from Kamal sir’s films.”
Vikram was unruffled when he realised that Abi had more screen space than him in Kadaram Kondan. “A stage has come where after a while, the actor in me has to evolve into more meaty roles like what Mammokka and Lalettan does in Malayalam films,” says Vikram; his eyes light up whenever he speaks of the superstars. Currently sporting long hair for his upcoming role in Mani Ratnam’s ambitious project Ponniyin Selvan, Vikram is keen to act in a Malayalam film soon.
In his earlier years in the 90s, he had shared screen space with his favourite actor Mammootty in memorable roles in Sainyam, King, Indraprastham and Dhruvam.
When Ennu Ninte Moideen-fame R.S. Vimal announced his `300 crore Malayalam film Karnan with Vikram playing the title role, hopes have been high about the actor’s return to the industry. But the movie, when changed to a pan-Indian film under a new title — Mahaveer Karna, the screenplay of which was recently offered to the deity of Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple to seek blessings, nothing much is known about Vikram’s role in it. Vikram, however, informs that he has got the script of a new Malayalam film, without revealing more. Once he finishes his Kollywood commitments, he is expected to be back in Malayalam.
For long, the actor was seen in only big budget films in Tamil. Asked why, he says, “There is no point in making the producer of a film a pauper. As long as the producer earns `40 crore or `50 crore, it’s worthwhile. If not, I myself will launch a low-budget film under my banner.” He also adds that his earlier films Kasi and Pithamagan were low-budget projects.
Vikram is not in a hurry to don the director’s cap, but reveals that he would, when he is ready. “For me, the story is the hero in a script.” He is also happy to see the reception Arjun Reddy-remake Adithya Varma’s trailer has received, through which his son Dhruv, an alumnus of Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, New York, is making his acting debut. “It has come out well, I hope Dhruv surprises you all”, says Vikram, with fatherly love written across his face. As the press meet ended, Vikram was accompanied outside the hotel by half a dozen bouncers; another round of loud shrieks and thuds reverberated in the air....