Vikram on a `Maja' trip
Vikram promises his fans another treat this Deepavali. Can he repeat Anniyan's success?
EXCITED ABOUT HIS NEW RELEASE: Vikram
When you catch Vikram on a rainy evening for the latest on his Deepavali release, he is characteristically loquacious.
Showing no signs of pre-release tension, the actor dwells at length on his much-awaited `Maja.' "Till I saw the completed product, I was anxious. But now that I have, I'm cool and smug. Healthy comedy and plenty of action will make a perfect combo for a family treat. `Maja' should win," he smiles.
`Maja' is Malayalam director Shafi's first film in Tamil. "The entire credit should go to him. Shafi will carve a niche for himself in Tamil. And in `Maja,' the camera is the real hero. Balu has done fabulous work," certifies Vikram.
When they started `Maja' Shafi hardly knew Tamil. Now he can read, write and converse in the language. "I told him that till the film got over he has to talk to us only in Tamil," he chuckles.
Getting along with people comes easily to Vikram. Little wonder then that many in the `Maja' unit became emotional on the last day of shoot.
With a grin Vikram responds: "Mmm... possibly. But besides [director] Dharani's this is one of the best groups I've worked with. We jelled very well. `Anniyan' was a different ball game. The genre was such and the role taxing. But during `Maja', the bonding became very strong. Every one in the unit would help out with everything. For example, while filming a fight in the slush, the entire crew, whether they were part of the action or not, got soaked in the grime. And for all that each technician was brilliant in his field. The camaraderie was incredible and the sync perfect," he muses.
Lost in thought for a fleeting moment, Vikram returns to his ebullient self. "But we plan to get back together. Shafi will direct the Tamil version of `Chandhu Pottu,' which I'll do next. It's an amazing role where the hero is a person with effeminate tendencies ... it will be a challenge. Of course we plan to make changes to suit the scenario here," he excitedly announces.
And will the heroine be Gopika who did the original? "Nothing's been decided. But she will be one I've not worked with so far," is all Vikram divulges.
So following `Thomanum Makkalum' that has become `Maja,' Vikram's next will also be set in a bucolic ambience another inspiration from God's Own Country.
The `Maja' crew had recently been to Germany and Austria, to can a song sequence. "We had a ball, and Vidyasagar's composition is as melodious and soothing as his `Aasai ... Aasai' song in `Dhool,'" he says.
The original plan was to go to Ireland because they had envisaged a rather ethnic ambience with castles and such stuff in the backdrop. But as the climate, they heard, would not be conducive, they shifted the shoot to Austria.
"Initially the milieu was not quite what we had wanted, but Raju Sundaram's choreography and Balu's camera have worked wonders. Also it was a pleasure to work with Asin. She's a good dancer and a talented artiste," commends Vikram.
Things went according to schedule and they overshot by just two days.
"That's a record in itself. On the day of the muhurat we announced the release date, and the theatres too," he remarks. Pollachi has been the location for the most part of `Maja.'
People there are quite used to stars camping at their place for shoots. Every morning around 300 people would converge on the hotel where Vikram stayed to catch a glimpse of the mega star. Mohanlal who was also staying in the hotel for a Malayalam film was at first quite puzzled at the crowd outside. "`Anniyan' had just been released. That was the reason," is Vikram's modest comment. Vikram had fans mobbing him even in a remote place like Mandya, in Karnataka. "They wanted me to repeat pieces of dialogue from `Anniyan,'" he smiles.
Having been away from home for nearly three months at a stretch for `Maja,' Vikram is glad to be back at home base.
So are kids Akshita and Dhruv, and wife Shaila thrilled? "They are ... as we shot in all the four southern States, besides the foreign jaunt, I used to drop in on my way to the airport. And Akshita's first poser would be `Are you going to stay for some time or will you be leaving today itself?' I've been missing them too," he says. Adding: "They are used to it by now. Still ... " The ellipsis conveys enough. "Invariably I miss out on the kids' holidays and birthdays ... hence for now it's going to be only home work and outing with them."
On working in completely commercial ventures Vikram observes: "Kenny [Vikram's original name] loves doing commercial films, but Vikram is crazy. He enjoys playing `Sethu' or `Kasi.'" The line sounds more like the `Anniyan' schizo. "True. And there's also this third guy. Another me who just likes to laze around, sleep long hours and watch movies," he guffaws.
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Chennai and Tamil Nadu