'Kanteerava will appeal to women'
From a junior artiste in producer Ramu's film Rakshasa to spending lakhs on just his fight sequence in his big budget production Kanteerava, Vijay has sure come a long way.
The actor who shot to fame as an action hero with Duniya, talks about his role in his this week's Kannada release Kanteerava; his travails as a junior artiste; why his previous films may have tanked and on how he wants his best friend to direct him
Is Kanteerava going to be yet another action film catering just to your fans?
Contrary to reports, my film is not high on action. The common belief is that in Vijay's films, either you see him hitting someone or getting hit. But in this film, that's not the case. It is a family entertainer.
You'll in fact notice that we have incorporated the action sequences only where needed. Having said that, I would also like to mention that I have worked hard on the action bits and have not used dupes (duplicates). I have also performed Manipuri martial arts and gymnastics this time.
The film is inspired by Junior NTR's Telugu film Simhadri. But the fights here are much crisper.
What is this entertainer about?
Though the film is a remake, we have induced a lot of native elements.
Kanteerava is about Kannada land, language and women. In fact the film will appeal to women. I will be seen uniting an estranged girl with her family. There is also a song on all the female deities in the film.
Image: A scene from Kanteerava
'Ranga SSLC brings back bitter memories'
There are two heroines in the film -- Shuba Punja, with whom you have often shared screen space, and Rishika Singh, a debutant
The work experience notwithstanding, I wish to say that both the leading ladies are integral to the plot. In fact in this film, it is just not the hero who is important but the entire star cast.
Is Kanteerva your first film with Ramu Enterprises?
No, I have worked as a junior artiste in his film Rakshasa. Sadhu Kokhila was the director. And today it gives me great pleasure in starring as a hero in his productions. Sadhu is my co-star in this film and that only adds to my joy.
You were also a junior artiste in your Johnny Mera Naam Prethi Mera Kaam co-star Ramya's film Ranga SSLC
Yes. And today I'm playing her leading man in Johnny... I feel good about that. But Ranga SSLC brings back bitter memories. After playing my part, I approached the producer for money. His relative in turn beat me up and said that as I was a junior, I would not be paid. I was desperately in need of money as my wife was expecting our second child. But he refused to understand. That was the day I vowed to make it big in this industry. Till this day that man is unable to face me. Then also I used to act and now also I act; the only difference is that today I get paid a lot for my job!
Image: Vijay and Shuba Punja in Kanteerava
'Whatever the response, I will always experiment'
Getting back to Johnny..., is it a subject that you haven't done before?
The film is about a man who is a favourite with his locality people. Preetham Gubbi is directing it. The film is a romantic comedy and we have tried our bet to give it a different feel. Now it's up to the people to accept it and encourage a new kind of cinema.
Duniya, Slum Bala and now Johnny... do you feel satisfied with the way people responded to your experimentation?
Whatever the response, I will always experiment. If Ravana had ten heads, an actor is someone who has many more. He is constantly donning one avatar or the other. Actors and directors are ready to experiment and think differently, what we need is the support of producers.
Having said that, I also understand that our industry has a small market and many a time we are expected to show similar subjects in the best possible way. Yes, we may have faltered at times, but then again success is something that finds its way through failures.
In a recent interview of yours, you also blamed producers for their lack of proper marketing techniques .
Yes. There is a need for producers to market the film well. But I am not generalising here. There are a few producers who know their job well. All I'm saying is that I have given my best in most of my recent films and may be they would have done better if marketed properly. What's the purpose of having a grand wedding ceremony if you don't invite people properly!
Image: Ramya and Vijay in Johnny Mera Naam Preethi Mera Kaam
'Actors like Darshan have made Kannada films famous'
Do you feel Kanteerava has been well marketed?
I'm sure the producer is doing his bit. But I'm still nervous about the film just like I am about each of my releases. Even this day, the seventh reel of the film is in my prayer room. God and my fans have brought me this far and I have complete faith in them.
You postponed the release of Kanteerava by a week to accommodate Darshan's Boss during the Sankranthi weekend. Will it affect the collections?
Darshan is a close friend and a senior. I saw nothing wrong in him releasing his film first. Also it is actors like him that have made Kannada films famous and brought people to theatres. So no ego issues for me. Healthy competition is what we should aim for.
What are your future projects?
There is Veerabahu. S Mahender is directing it. It is a love story. Mahender is making this film after coming out of his personal crisis. However I'll clarify that his frustrations of a love marriage gone wrong have not been reflected in the film. He has made an honest effort and I wish he gets his due with this film. Shashank is directing me in Jarasandha. It is the story of a man who fights for justice.
Image: Vijay in Veerabahu
'I have no issues with Aindrita'
Did you, as rumour mills say, ask for heroine Aindrita Ray to be replaced?
I don't want to react to such baseless allegations. I just wish to say that I respect my co-stars. She is a big star in her own right and I have no issues with her. People tend to go over board when they are angry. Truth will prevail soon.
Are there any directors you would like to work with?
Yes, my best friend Yogi. He is my Man Friday. If I've come this far, it's because he has played a major role. He designs my costumes for some films. He is currently assisting Preetham in Johnny... I surely want to make a film for him.
Do reviews and criticisms bother you?
Well, who hasn't been criticised, from Gods to great men, everyone has come under the scanner. Write anything honestly and accurately and I will definitely take that seriously.
Image: Vijay in Jhonny Mera Naam Preethi Mera Kaam