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Slick flicks his forte

T.KRITHIKA REDDYT.KRITHIKA REDDY

"Technical virtuosity is de rigueur in contemporary cinema. Films ought to be a visual delight", says producer Vikram Singh, whose "Laysa Laysa" is scheduled for a Deepavali release..

In casual tee and trousers, Vikram Singh is a picture of cool in his sprawling bungalow in the city's upmarket Boat Club locality. But ask him about his creative lap in tinseldom, and one instantly gets the feeling of a serious, inventive person keen on committing himself to the inner rhythms of his films.

In a typical no fuss, no frills mode, he chats at length about his roller coaster ride in showbiz and his forthcoming release "Laysa Laysa". From his role of a cultural envoy, theatre aficionado to a producer of stylish films, Vikram has been constantly reinventing himself. "Yes... I don't like doing things that cease to interest me," he says with decisiveness. "To me, film-making is a glorified hobby. How can someone pursue a hobby without passion," he asks. "If the excitement wanes, I will move on to fresh frontiers... "

It's perhaps this attitude that makes Vikram's ventures different. Take his debut Tamil production "12 B" for instance. Thematically and treatment-wise, the star-spangled film signalled a departure. With its understated quality, "12 B", polarised critics, though not the audience. But then, commercial viability is not the issue with Vikram. "Every film is a dream... a passion. If one is uncompromising, filmmaking is not really a money-spinning enterprise. To add to the producers' woes, there is no organised system of funding, selling and accountability in the film world."

With "12 B", Vikram did steal a slice of the spotlight, if not a chunk at the box office. But that certainly didn't deter his commitment to produce slick flicks. "Technical virtuosity is de rigueur of filmmaking in contemporary cinema. Films ought to be a visual delight. That combined with scintillating music is a sure bait to the paying public."

Does that mean story takes a backseat? "There are only about a dozen plots that are mixed and matched to create a number of films, universally that is. Treatment, narrative bite and visual appeal are what matter. Take the Hindi blockbuster `Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam', for instance. It is again a formula fare in which the treatment makes all the difference."

Scheduled for a Deepavali release, his "Laysa Laysa" is a romantic comedy with Shyam, Madhavan and Trisha playing pivotal roles. "A highlight is the comedy, which is integral to the film. Vivek leads the band of four chuckle-raisers. Being a Priyadarshan film, it has a florid style. And the mood the director creates is exciting. As for the cinematography, it has brought poetic resplendence to the film." Known for throwing his casting net far and wide (remember Sunil Shetty and Moon Moon Sen's cameo in "12 B"), Vikram Singh launches newcomer Trisha in "Laysa Laysa". "Trisha dispels the myth that models make poor actresses. Watch out how she expresses a labyrinth of emotions," he adds. "Madhavan is indeed another surprise package, what with an action-packed role. What's more, the music by Harris Jayaraj is brilliant."

That Vikram is exacting to the point of obsessiveness is evident from the fact that he shelved a film starring Madhavan and Jyothika half way through its production because he "wasn't too happy with the way it shaped out to be. I know so much money is at stake, but then I have to believe in the films I make. If I am not happy, how can I thrust it upon the audience, he asks.

For someone who has been zipping across the globe organising shows, how does it feel to be anchored to Chennai? "Well, my tryst with Tamil films just happened. In fact, I am not even familiar with Tamil. Thankfully, films transcend the barriers of language. Having come from Mumbai, I was carried away by the belief that the film industry in the South is more organised. But in reality, it's not so."

And that's precisely why Vikram has his eyes set on the West. "Sooner or later, I would love to produce films in Western countries. A filmmaker needs to be very focussed. Sometimes the ways of the trade here irk you... "

A chronology of Vikram's career indicates his relentless urge to "do something different and exciting." He started off by bringing top-notch international music bands such as Osi Bisa, Sting et al to the country. "That way, I was a pioneer. Soon the fad caught on and I lost interest. So I got involved in theatre, bringing popular British troupes here. Later, I started organising shows featuring Bollywood stars in the West. Perhaps, that was my stepping-stone to the world of films. Later, my association with Boney Kapoor as executive producer (in "Judaai", "Pukhar" etc) further kindled my passion to make films... "

The kind of person who would let his work speak for himself, Vikram believes that "If you give your best shot at whatever you do, the best will come back to you". And for someone who places his art over commerce, it doesn't really matter if success comes... laysa laysa!

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