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'We should not spoil the goodwill a Rajni film title has'

April 10, 2014 09:00 IST

'We should not spoil the goodwill a Rajni film title has'

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Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com in Chennai

Coming from a family of film producers, Vishal Krishna Reddy started his film career with a bang.

In National award winning director, Bala's Avan Ivan he got a make-over from action hero to actor.

His latest film Naan Sigappu Manithan co-produced by his own production banner, Vishal Film Factory, and UTV, releases this Friday, April 11.

The actor-producer who is also captain of the Chennai cricket team of the Celebrity Cricket League, talks about his film in this interview.

Is Naan Sigappu Manithan a remake of Rajnikanth's film of the same name?

Not at all. We have just borrowed the title.

Any particular reason why you chose the title?

Our film is a thriller, especially the second half. We considered quite a few titles but were not happy. Then Thiru, the director, came up with this title, and we felt it was apt for our story. 


Image: A scene from Naan Sigappu Manithan


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'We showed the trailer and a song to Rajini sir and we got his blessings'

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Shobha Warrier/Rediff.com

Did you have any difficulty getting hold of the title?

We bought the title from the producer of Rajni Sir's film.

Did you talk to Rajniknath after that?

Not immediately. We decided that we would request Rajni Sir to launch the audio. When we met him, he said he was more than happy that we were making a film with his film’s title.

He was very curious about the story. Once he heard the story, he said it would work. That was a real blessing coming from him.

Later, we showed him the trailer and song and we got his blessings.

Does using the title of a Rajni film put pressure on the filmmakers?

It does. We have to be very careful while using the title of a Rajni film. We shouldn't misuse it.

We should not spoil the goodwill a Rajni film title has.

When Thiru narrated the story, I felt no other title fits the story; this is the perfect one. 


Image: A scene from Naan Sigappu Manithan


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'Rajni sir's film titles are still remembered fondly by people'

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These days, the titles of many of Rajnikanth’s films are being used by others. Is that not taking advantage of the popularity of his films?

It is true.

The title of a film can bring in audience to the theatres. If the title is catchy, it makes a deep impression. It is like naming a baby. 

Rajni Sir's film titles are still remembered fondly by people. We had Polladhavan, Padikathavan, Naan Mahaan Alla recently and most of them have done well.

The title Naan Sigappu Manithan means 'Red man'. Has the film anything to do with communism?

Not at all. Red depicts the hero's anger, his mood.

Indran (Vishal’s character in the film) suffers from a sleep disorder called narcolepsy. Any extreme emotion, whether it is happiness, anger or sadness puts him to sleep.

 The crux of the story is how he overcomes this disorder to do certain things.

Every filmmaker says his film and story are different. But this story is indeed different.

When Thiru told me about narcolepsy, I hadn't heard of such a disease. It made me inquisitive. I am sure the audience will also be as curious to know how Indran overcomes the disease.

My image of an action hero also makes many people curious to find out how I portray the character.

Did you read up on the disease to prepare for the role?

Yes, I did. No character with narcolepsy has been portrayed in Indian films as far as I know.

I had no reference points from other films. I watched quite a few documentaries on YouTube. I didn't meet any people.

I understood that even if the person was standing, once he gets the attack, he falls on the ground, asleep. The way he falls down has to be convincing. 


Image: A scene from Naan Sigappu Manithan


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'I did feel awkward working with Laskshmi Menon'

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Was it difficult to portray such a character?

More than difficult, it was an interesting character to portray.

Imagine, a guy falling asleep when he holds a girl's hands and feels love for her! Anything that excites him puts him to sleep.

The story so excited me that I was eagerly waiting to start portraying the character.

Your image was that of an action hero. Was it Bala's film Avan Ivan that gave you the courage to experiment with different kinds of roles?

Exactly. Bala's film was the beginning. Then, I shocked the audience with Pandinaadu in which I played a very docile man.

When it was accepted by people, I thought it was the right time to capitalise on that goodwill.

If Pandinaadu had not clicked, I don't think I would have had the courage to do this film.

How much did Bala's Avan Ivan change you as an actor?

Completely. He rediscovered me. I didn't know I could do such a role.

The heroine of Pandinaadu, Laskshmi Menon, is just a school girl. Did acting with her make you uncomfortable?

I did feel awkward. But she is very mature for a school girl.

And then, an actor has to encounter many such things!


Image: A scene from Naan Sigappu Manithan


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'My personal life has taken a backseat ever since I turned producer'

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Was it your passion for films or the businessman in you that made you become a producer?

It is 50 per cent passion and 50 per cent anger that made me a producer.

Situations forced me to become a producer. In normal circumstances, I would have started a production house only two or three years down the line.

But when my film got stalled, I had no option but to start producing the film.

I couldn't abandon a project halfway, and it was happening for no fault of ours. It is heartbreaking to see your film get stuck after 80-90 days of hard work.

Two of my films - MGR and Samar- got stuck. I decided to start my own production house where everything would be under my control.

I come from a family of producers so that also gave me the courage to plunge into production.

I feel every actor should turn producer; only then they will understand the hardships a producer faces.

How was it to be an actor and producer at the same time?

It is quite tough! My personal life has taken a backseat ever since I turned producer.

It is multi-tasking at the highest level. I like it; I like the challenges. 

Which is the tougher job?

Producing! The last two weeks before the release are the most difficult days. You have to be on your toes. I am enjoying it.


Image: A scene from Naan Sigappu Manithan

Tags: MGR

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'Ram Gopal Varma is one of the reasons I decided to be in film'

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You have named your production house Vishal Film Factory. Why did you choose such a name?

My inspiration is Ram Gopal Varma. He is one of the reasons I decided to be in films.

One fine day I named my production house Vishal Film Factory and decided to produce films.

What kind of films do you want to produce?

After Naan Sigappu Manithan, my next film, directed by Hari, will roll out on April 14.

Then, we are planning a film with Vikrant. We plan to launch new directors, technicians and actors.

I feel this is the best time to experiment as audiences are ready to accept new scripts, new faces and new films.

What is in your mind as the release date approaches?

I feel numb. It is like a pregnant lady waiting for the delivery!

You are quite active in the CCL (Celebrity Cricket League) as the captain of the Chennai team. Do you get time to play cricket while acting and producing?

We don't. We start practising only during the season.

It is crazy during the CCL season. Though I like multi-tasking, it was tough acting and also playing cricket. I really enjoy playing cricket. 


Image: A scene from Naan Sigappu Manithan


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