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V for Vikram

Vikram's insatiable appetite for movies helps him to be successful



OFFBEAT ROLES Vikram

Success did not come to him on a platter. The ingredients were all there — looks, talent and determination. But it took him years to get the right combination to savour the taste of success.

The hunger for good roles and cinema is evident as actor Vikram speaks to Saraswathy Nagarajan about his movies, family and friends.

Tucking into a breakfast comprising five egg whites, two slices of bread, and fruit, Vikram says: "My diet is decided by my role and the film that I am working on. Now, I will start shooting for `Bhima.' As the name suggests, he is a tough character — mentally and physically. So, I need to put on weight around my middle and look a little heavy. When I was doing `Sethu,' I survived on egg white, carrot juice and beetroot for a month. I lost 16 kg in less than 30 days. Director Bala told me that I should have just enough stamina to work on the sets. On the other hand, for `Dhill' I was on 25 egg whites and one whole cooked chicken as I had to look bulky. I also employed a body builder to train me."

Perhaps, when one dreams of becoming an actor from the age of 13, this sort of dedication is nothing new.

"As a student in Montfort School, Yercaud, I was forever doodling in my books, drawing fast cars and dreaming of the day when I would own one. I wanted to become an actor. Period."

Vikram feels it must be in the genes. "My father, Vinod, had tried to make a career in films but failed. It must be running in our blood because my son, Dhruv, now dreams of becoming an actor."

Vikram made it a point to keep in touch with friends and colleagues in the Malayalam film industry where he had done small but significant roles.

In Kamal's footsteps

"As I am a great admirer of Kamal Hassan, who hails from my place, Parmakudi, in Tamil Nadu, I decided to follow in his footsteps and act in Malayalam movies. I found that his acting had been honed by his exposure to Malayalam cinema. I gained a great deal by observing actors. Even an actor with just one scene ensures that he steals the scene with his body language, eyes and tone. It was subtle but effective."

Malayalam films such as "Dhruvam," "Sainiam" and "Indraprastham" made him familiar to cine buffs in Kerala. But it was Kollywood that made him a superstar. The icing on the cake was the National Award for "Pithamagan."

"Although films such as `Pithamagan,' `Dhool' and `Sami' did well, it was "Anniyan" that asserted the fact that I had made it to the top."

His stupendous success in Tamil cinema has not reduced his appetite for offbeat roles that would give him an opportunity to showcase his prowess as an actor. "I would love to act in Malayalam cinema, provided the role is good," he says.

However, he admits that he chickened out from trying his luck in Bollywood.

"I did get a couple of offers. But I felt if I spend the same amount of time in South India, I might get better roles and films."

Supportive family

What is his affinity to Malayalam? "My wife Shaila is a Malayali. She has been very supportive and has not changed from the days I was a struggling actor. Similarly, I must thank my in-laws, Balakrishnan and Narayani. Whether I was an also-ran or a star, I was always Kenny to them."

Vikram avers that while he enjoys the adulation, he has to live up to the expectations of his fans.

Dwelling upon his favourite genres, he says, "I prefer thrillers and action movies. I don't think I would be good in romantic films."

His craving for cinema seems insatiable as he says, "I will always be in cinema. But never as a fading star. Like Amitabh Bachchan, I will do grandfather roles, be a villain or clown, but movies will remain my lifeline."

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