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Vishnu made a splash into the world of films with Suseendran's Tamil film, Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu in 2009.
His powerful performances in the films that followed were remarkable for a young man who had no training or background in the movies.
Cricket, and not films, was his passion when he was young and he played at the national level for 10 years until an injury forced him to take a long break and later, rest his career as a cricketer.
As his new film, Neer Paravai, directed by the National Award winning director Seenu Ramasamy releases on November 30, Vishnu talks to Shobha Warrier about his cricketing and acting careers and Neer Paravai.
Unlike other actors of your age, you have acted in more realistic films such as Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu, Drohi, and now Neer Paravai. Do you prefer these kind of films?
Though my films are realistic, they are entertaining and not preachy.
I prefer to work in these films because they offer me performance-based characters which you may not get in a typical commercial film.
In every film of mine, I play the character; I am never myself. That gladdens the actor in me.
None of my characters are me or remotely similar to me, so it makes me happy playing them. That could be the reason I choose such films.
Was it because you are a city guy and he wanted a rural person?
Yes. I am an urban guy and his film was set in a village. But I convinced him to try me.
Then, he wanted me to tan my body. I used to be quite dark during my cricket days and once my cricketing career ended, I started looking fairer. I went off to Mahabalipuram, and in a couple of days, I was tanned. When Suseendran saw me, he understood I was serious and I could do it.
What was it like to portray a rural character in the film? Was it easy because he was a sports person?
It was difficult to portray a rural character from Tamil Nadu. Though I grew up here, I am basically from Haryana. So, to be in a lungi and speak Madurai slang was really tough.
But after I saw the film, I felt proud of what I had done. I really looked like a kabbadi player from a village in Tamil Nadu!
It was such a satisfying feeling to be appreciated for your effort when you haven't had any training in acting.
How did the role of Neer Paravai come to you?
The producers Red Giant Movies called me and I was happy that a big banner was calling me. I was all the more happy when I came to know that the movie was to be directed by a National Award winning director.
I spoke to the director for 10 minutes and in that time, I knew it was going to be a good film. The story was that powerful.
Once again, you were going to play a character you were not familiar with...
Completely unfamiliar territory, but that is the challenge. More than that, I have always been afraid of the sea and here, I was going to act as a fisherman.
Did you have any scenes with Nandita Das?
We don't have many scenes together but I was there when she shot for our film.
I feel we should learn dedication from her. She used to make sure that she understood the meaning, pronunciation and context of every word that she had to say.
I also saw someone using her eyes so effectively to convey emotions. It was wonderful watching her act. It was even more interesting interacting with her about cinema as a whole.
What do you look for in a film?
I want appreciation from people. That is the most important thing. When audiences appreciate and accept your work, you feel happy.