Arun Vijay
Interviewer : Bala | Camera : P.Ganesh Babu & Hamananth | Text : Daya Kingston
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Arun Vijay is riding the crest of success after Malai Malai. The hard-working and talented actor has just got his fair share of the spotlight after years of toil. Maanja Velu is released and we catch the excitement.
Can you tell us about Maanja Velu?

Maanja Velu is the second film from Feathertouch Entertainment, our own production house. It comes after Malai Malai’s success and we have onboard the same team. The Director A. Venkatesh, cameraman Venkatesh combo has clicked in all the films they have worked together. We have used top technicians like Kanal Kannan for action, Dinesh master for choreography, Mani Sharma for music, Vaali for lyrics, VT Vijayan for editing and so on.

What is very important in the film is the star cast. Karthik makes his re-entry into Tamil cinema after 6 years and I am working with him for the first time, a superb experience. He is a senior artiste and performing each scene with him elicits my best. He acts as my brother and we were like real brothers. We wanted to have big artistes to justify each role and spent a lot of time in casting, you will find a whole army of artistes - Anu Hasan, Dhanshika my heroine, my dad Vijayakumar, Prabhu, Chandrasekar, Riyaz Khan, Ilavarasan, Thyagu, Nizhalgal Ravi... Comedy will be a big plus as it’s a wholesome entertainer with action and comedy with veteran comedians like Santhanam, Ganja Karuppu, Manohar, and Singamuthu. We did a lot of pre-production and Santhanam even prepared his own scenes. Everyone was very involved and the comedy was so hilarious that even while working we were laughing. The fast-paced screenplay and direction is awesome. It will be a lovely treat and I guarantee you can watch it with family.

Maanja Velu is a commercial entertainer and like Malai Malai gave me a different look, this film does too. While making this film we did not target particular audience and we wanted it to be enjoyed by all. All departments did their best and I would like to thank all the technicians who put in their best, right from the dialogue writer to the lyricist, assistant director, director, cameraman, and a good package. This is a character I have never attempted before, one with a lot of emotion, family values and all elements of entertainment. I can bravely say the climax will be one that you have never seen before and when you leave the theater it will be a different experience.

How was it performing the action sequences?

I had lots of unforgettable experiences at the shooting spot. Fights were very important and we shot them for nearly 45 days, choreographed by Kanal Kannan. I never use dupes in any of my films for the stunts and have undertaken many risky stunts despite my parents and other advising me against it.

Today’s audience has accepted me as an action hero in Malai Malai and I want to do something new in action. For the introduction fight, I have totally shaved my hair for the first time; I have 2 getups in the film. For 7 days I had to hang upside down for a fight scene. Everybody knows that even if you hang upside down for a day, the blood will rush to the head and create pressure and when master told me, I said ok but while doing it I found it physically and mentally stressful but the output was really awesome and amazing. It will be a visual treat. There was a composition of 8 to 9 fighters and me hanging upside down to be filmed in one single shot. However once it was done, they removed the camera and forgot that I was hanging upside down 15 ft in the air until one of the fighters realized I was still there and they helped me get down.

What was your experience working with Karthik and Prabhu?

Working with Karthik was a gift as he is spontaneous and I had to do it carefully as I have watched many of his films as a fan keenly, he has excellent comedy senses and it was challenging to work with him. In one comedy sequence, we mock my girlfriend, I imitated my sister-in-law’s voice and he would speak like a sick man. The director was waiting to say cut, but Karthik improvised and continued dialogues that were not in the script and I responded. When we finished, there were claps all around and I am sure the audience will enjoy it.

I always had the regret that I never had the opportunity to work with Sivaji but working with Prabhu sir has made up. I have learnt a lot from him.

How did you feel after the Malai Malai victory?

Malai Malai was my first commercial hit and this is important to every actor to gain hero status and business increase. It brought me many fans who told me that they liked to watch me in such roles and said the action was super! I thank everyone who made it a success and while it was running I had the opportunity to visit 76 theatres and watch the film as part of the audience. I met fans and asked them their likes and dislikes. I am happy that fans appreciated me and gave me suggestions. They asked me to do a cop role. Before Malai Malai, I was a little confused about my career but with its success, people have shown me the action route.

You have been constantly working with Director Venkatesh. Why?

Not like that, he is a lovely director and he is comfortable to work with. He has given me my first commercial hit and is my father-in-law Thiru M.S. Mohan’s very close friend, So, when we started our own venture, we approached him first. He knows the pulse of the audience, my potential and how he can portray me to the audience in the best way. Before he made the script of Malai Malai, he spent a lot of time analyzing and researching my old films. There is a strong bonding between us. During the making of Maanja Velu, I shared a lot of ideas with him and if they were good he would accept. He gels well with our company.

There is a strong bonding

between us

Jananam was not released


Tell us about your initial films and the ones you liked?

Although I have filmi background, I faced a lot of struggle. As an actor, everyone only knew me as so-and-so’s son. Only after finishing one film, would I take up another so that it would come out well and worked on select scripts. However at that point, my maturity level was not as high as I had just finished school and joined college and immediately joined cinema. However, I learnt a lot. There are a few films I like very much even if they were not commercial successes, for instance Jananam, all those who saw it praised me but Jananam was not released properly.

I have done a few films but I am happy that even then the films have made as strong impression like Pandavar Bhoomi. Thulli Thirinda Kaalam, I had the satisfaction of having worked on good films. Though, I never had a commercial hit I had no regrets, I felt that when the Almighty destined it, it would happen. On our side, we must patiently work, that’s something my father always told me. I equipped myself, I knew only cinema. I never let myself get down and must mention the support from fans, family and press. Even when I felt down, a call would come from somewhere, somebody saying don’t worry the next time you will do better. My work was cent per cent appreciated. I was not to be blamed for other factors. Now it has clicked I have the maturity to select script.

Why have you suddenly turned action hero?

I have always enjoyed action and was very involved in it. I knew beforehand that action is along standing vision all those who have taken the action route have stayed. I had the confidence I could do new things as I prepared myself. Everyone appreciated my fights and Malai Malai was a stamp, it was like fans were showing me a path. The victory gave me a new responsibility that I had to select a good story. Action would be there as a baseline. The audience must feel that I would bring something new to action besides new songs, comedy and entertainment. Maanja Velu wills satisfy everyone. I have decided not to do similar films. But action stars in Hollywood have explored new lines of action which I will too.

fans were showing me a path

I would have done 3 Idiots if

Malai Malai had not happened

Would you act in a film like 3 Idiots?

Aamir’s acting in 3 Idiots really inspired me; I would really like to do something like it. I would have done 3 Idiots if Malai Malai had not happened. However, now I can’t take any drastic move as an action image has set in. Maybe I can try such projects after 4 to 5 films. I have to establish myself as a proper action hero and see what my audiences expect

Are you planning to direct a film?

I don’t know what gave you the idea. Direction is not a joke and not everyone can do it. It is not only direction; I have an interest in cinematography and scriptwriting too. Any actor must know what happens behind the camera to emote well. I take Kamal Sir as my inspiration, he is still known as a good actor because he is technically strong. Once my scenes are over, I stay with the cameraman and look at the monitor and talk to him and watch what he does. I went to the New York Film Academy and did a film making course and I guess the question is based on that. No, I am not going to direct at the moment, it’s just an exposure, I am focused on being an actor and want to give it my best shot.

Direction is not a joke

My wife is a good critic

Does your wife review your work?

My wife is a good critic and after watching each film points out the positives and negatives. Earlier it was my sisters; so after watching a film, I would go and stand in the corner as I would not know what they were going to stay. Now my wife watches lots of films, Indian and English and has a lot of interest. She has a passion for cinema and I take her suggestions as an audience and fan. She tells me what she feels frankly. She is very supportive and I am happy and correct the small things she points out in the next film.

Does your wife make any conditions on your onscreen romances with heroines?

No nothing like that because before marriage I explained to her about the industry and my work. She knows about me. She understands that I work in an entertainment field where we work to make people happy.

How did you find a place amongst big heroes?

First, my father-in-law, being a businessman he knows how to make a product saleable and to bring out a new one. Even though I did lot of hard work, making it reach the audience correctly is a different thing. He knew the combination and the amount. Malai Malai was 5 or 6 times bigger than a normal production and he had the guts to take the risk. When you take a risk, the output shows! Maanja Velu is spectacular. Only when one takes a big step, one can reach the next level. I thank him.

What kind of homework have you done for the action role?

No specific homework but I have been training myself in martial arts, gymnastics, horse riding and keep updating myself.. That has helped me, my body has become more flexible, and even if I have to do a classical dance I can do it. I can grasp dance steps easily. I am currently undertaking vigorous physical training as each film is different and I want to show the figure differently for each film. For instance in Malai Malai, I was a tough villager, in Maanja Velu I reveal a different get up. I have been learning action bike stunts and have completed 3 levels in sky diving training with 5 more to go for my license. Then I can perform anywhere in the world and jump from 14000 feet. I can promise that my films will always have something new. I know that only if you risk you can go high. Also if one is untrained such stunts are risky but if we train it’s not so risky and makes people watch in awe

What is your role in Kaaval Thurai like?

This is the next venture of Feathertouch Entertainments and will be spectacular. For the first time, I play a police character. Kaaval Thurai means Police Department and this film will not focus on a particular police officer. We have gathered lot of research and will show things never shown before. It will have plenty of action and I am really thrilled as I have been working very hard. The same team has worked on it but there will be no impact of the previous films. This is a multi-starrer and I share the screen with many people. I do not want to be there in every frame. It will be interesting if many characters are there.

Will you do realistic roles?

Oh, I like realistic roles very much. I have acted in Pandavar Bhoomi, I had a very good director Cheran and it was a good experience. However, in today’s race what I need to look at what people like business wise. In a small budget, one can do realistic roles but when there are many crores involved things are different, I have to look at the returns. If I really like a realistic story I will do it. However, any such decision will be post 4-5 films.

How does your father support you?

The reason I came into the industry was my father. I was inspired by his acting and started liking the field. He introduced me as a hero but when it comes to acting style I don’t follow him and am very cautious. He also does not tell me how to act so my individuality comes through. He gives me all freedom and encourages me to develop my skills by doing courses. He is a veteran actor and I will uphold his name. After he saw the first copy of Maanja Velu, he hugged me. For the first time, a big appreciation I can’t forget, I think he is the best dad. We are six daughters and just one son, but he treats all of us as equal. He keeps track of all kids and I am happy to have him as my dad.
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