Vikram, the Victor
The national award underlines Vikram's histrionic talent and tenacity. That there is much more to his personality is evident as the actor fields questions from celebrities. S. R. ASHOK KUMAR compiles.
THE 51ST National awards for best work in the field of cinema announced last week lifted the spirits of the people of Tamil Nadu, the celluloid fraternity in particular. Vikram was adjudged best actor for his performance in "Pithamagan." His portrait as the undertaker at a burial ground was much talked about.
The actor, professional to the core, had undergone an amazing physical transformation in order to do justice to the role that held another challenge in that he had to communicate without dialogue. This he did through gestures, facial expressions, grunts and body language. Appearance, however, has never bothered this talented actor, if the character demanded it. As Sethu, an inmate of a mental asylum he created ripples through a moving performance. As the blind Kasi, he touched a chord again.
The hero does not lag behind in action either. ``Saamy," in which he paired with Trisha, was a huge box-office hit. He played a bold and dynamic policeman sweeping the audience off its feet. He started his career in Tamil films, in 1989 with "En Kadhal Kanmani," though his acting career began with television. Vikram also made a mark as a dubbing artiste for many heroes, including Ajit.
"Thandhu Vittaen Ennai," "Puthiya Mannargal," "Meera," "Ullaasam" and ``Kaaval Geetham," were a few of his other films as hero, before "Sethu," came his way and catapulted him to fame. Then followed "Vinnukkum Mannukkum," "Dhil," "Kasi," "Gemini," "Samurai," "King," "Kadhal Sadugudu," "Dhool," "Samy," "Pithamagan" and the recent release "Arul." ``Anniyan," that he is doing with Shankar has raised great expectations.
Vikram has also figured in Telugu and Malayalam films. With the coveted national award under his belt, where does he go from here? What are his plans? Vikram fields questions from friends and well-wishers, who have been following his career graph and have a share in his success.
Vikram answers questions on acting, his career and of course the award...
AVM. Saravanan: MGR and Kamal Haasan have received the best actor award. A word about their contributions... and do you aspire to reach their height?
They have always been benchmarks for me as far as the performance and commitment to work is concerned. It would be an honour to be clubbed with them. I did not strive for the award but it was always a childhood dream to become a good actor and be recognised at the national level. But I will not rest on my laurels. I want to do many different roles and keep raising the standard of Tamil cinema.
Laila: Congratulations. Looking forward to more such performances from you in the future...
It took some time to sink in. Once it did I am feeling really nice and happy. More than anything else, I cherish the good word that everyone has to say. I'll try to do different kinds of characters, definitely.
P. C. Sriram: From ``Meera" to ``Pithamagan," I have seen your growth and also your passion for cinema. Your journey from now has to be very cautious. Will you take the same route or will it change?
Well, I do have a goal, but I'm not ready to talk about it, not as yet. There is no reason to change course right now. This award, however, has opened new horizons as far as the national level is concerned. May be other languages, parallel stream, workshops and so on... time to think of all these creative alternatives.
Shankar: I was doing a survey about people's secret of success. What is yours?
Hard work. I am like a bridled horse. I like to do one film at a time. Once I start it, my waking hours, sleep, dreams, everything revolves round the film and the character. At the moment, I am eating, drinking and sleeping only "Anniyan." I have taken a short break to enjoy the award.
Surya: It is mandatory for an actor to do homework before he/she starts playing a character. Now what made you accept the ``Pithamagan" role and how did you go about it?
Thanks to our mentor and guide, Bala, I am motivated to emulate Sethu everytime. That's how ``Kasi" and ``Pithamagan" happened. Roles of this kind give me fulfilment and wholesome satisfaction. But I cannot sit idle until they come my way. Hence the routine job. But I do a lot of homework, whatever the character I'm playing. As far as this film is concerned, the moment director Bala narrated the script of ``Pithamagan" I jumped at it. I thought it was going to be a milestone in my career.
Dharani: Getting a national award is not easy. Kindly tell me 10 points to achieve this?
First, it requires a director with some fire... you for instance. One should put one's best foot forward. Thirst for challenging and risky roles. Never wonder about the outcome of the effort. Have good friends in the press and among the public. Always wait for a good script. Teamwork, God, my beautiful family and last but not the least perseverance to attain perfection.
Vivek: You are the only hero who has portrayed physically and mentally challenged persons. Do you think this has created an awareness among the people?
Every time we do a role on a handicapped person it is not always to show their difficulty. If the story demands we do it, of course. Such portrayals do have an impact. I've come across people, who earlier neglected their disabled/infirm kin, going back to them to provide care. That way I think we are doing a service.
P. C. Sriram
Chiranjeevi: What is it that kept you going all those tough years and what made you strive for excellence even when the odds seemed high. Your reply will be a great source of inspiration for the youth who have ambitions.
Well, I take the cue from my blood group B positive. I'm an optimist. I never lost hope even when I was struggling to come up. And Bala appeared as light at the end of the tunnel.
Vishnu Vardhan: Has the award come at the right time for the right film or should it have come earlier?
If it had come for "Sethu" I would have been much happier. It is closest to my heart. But this is a sweet moment too.
DIRECTOR BALA is the happiest man. He is not, however, surprised. ``I thought Vikram would get an award for `Sethu'" but it was not so," says the director. ``I was very much disappointed and decided that we should make it happen," he goes on. ``The search for an appropriate story began and `Pithamagan' came along. Vikram would be the focal point and I planned to make the film as powerful as possible, good enough to win for him the award he had missed.
``Now, why was I so keen that he should get this award? He not only has enormous talent but also passion for good cinema. If you give him a role, which is difficult to perform, he will not rest until he performs to the satisfaction of the director. His commitment is total and there is no ego He will not mind disfiguring himself or completely changing himself to suit the character. He will discuss the minute details with the director and work hard. When I narrated the story, he was very happy about the character. I knew that he would rise to my expectations. Well, frankly, `Pithamagan' deserves a couple of more awards but I am extremely happy that I have achieved what I wanted. I will not just say that Vikram is a director's actor he is a director's delight," Bala concludes.
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