Interviewer : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar & Inian | Camera : Balaji | Text : Jyothsna Bhavanishankar
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Vishnu who debuted with Suseendiran’s Vennilla Kabbadi Kuzhu is on a roll. Featured back to back in Bale Pandiya and Drohi, this former cricketer who represented Tamil Nadu, is excited about the way his film career is shaping up. Taking up a variety of roles early in his vocation, a happy Vishnu spoke to Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar and Inian

How do you feel that two of your films have got released in a gap of one week and the films are getting good reviews?

Initially I was quite apprehensive that my films are getting released in just a week’s interval as this is something new. I am a fresher to the industry and did not expect such things to happen at the beginning of my career. Thankfully, both my films are doing good business and they are of different genres. They are getting the right kind of response. I am happy and when hard work is appreciated, it encourages to try out variety of roles.

What was the inspiration you derived from your Police Officer dad (in Drohi)?

I have played the role of an undercover cop in Drohi. My dad, an IPS officer is always supportive of my career and not just in this film alone. I discuss all my films with him and this film is a special one because of my role. As I have always been seeing my dad, the body language, voice and other aspects of a police officer have been easy. Appa was very happy as he was seeing his reflection in the film. When I started working in Drohi, I had a slight apprehension about working with experienced artists. On the fourth day of shooting, the scene with me in police uniform was shot. The moment I got into the uniform, a feel of arrogance and over confidence came over me. That’s when I realized that when the police dress could give so much of courage to a dummy police like me, the effect on the real police men is quite understandable.

How was Srikanth?

Twin hero subjects are quite rare in Tamil cinema and when I got Drohi with Srikanth as the other hero, I took it as a challenge. As an audience I always wonder why there are no multi-starrers in our industry and when the offer came, I immediately lapped it up. Of course I was anxious because Srikanth is a senior artist who has done more than 20 films. But this is my 3rd film and I was worried how I was going to match his performance But I owe my thanks to director Sudha and Srikanth who encouraged me right through and gave the required support. Srikanth gave me very many tips on my performance and that’s the reason my work in the film is being talked about. Full credit to director Sudha and Srikanth.

Experience with director Sudha K Prasad?

I got the bound script of Drohi from director. Generally women directors are known to render a romance based film or a woman-centric ones. However when I read the script, all my beliefs about women directors were shattered and I realized I should never treat Sudha as a woman. The script was so powerful and action oriented. I still wonder how this script came to me as I have done soft roles in my first 2 films. I don’t know why she thought of casting me in this role. Sudha

I should never treat Sudha as a


is not the timid and coy type but led us all from the front. When you see the visuals of the film, you can never make out that the film has been directed by a woman. This is because Sudha is very fond of action based films. That’s why she has directed an action flick in her very first film. There were many cute moments during shooting. Sudha used to come very enthusiastically to show us how to perform the action sequences but would stop saying that it would not be an appealing thing and ask us to do it. But she was very clear in what she wanted from us and would never rest till she got it. She constantly pushed me to the next level. Today if I am being appreciated for my performance in Drohi, it is because of Sudha who taught me the effects of hard work. My thanks to Sudha Mam.

We rehearsed a lot for Drohi

Home work for Drohi

Drohi is a twin hero subject. Sudha was worried how she was going to bring out the age difference between me and Srikanth as I was playing an elder character to him. On the looks department, I have to look matured. Hence I put on 15 kgs of weight, got tanned, grew beard and looked huge in the film. This is what I worked at the physical appearance side.

For the performance side, director gave me lot of references from various films. Without viewing me as a character, she focused on my performance, taking reference points from many films. We rehearsed a lot for Drohi. She brought in a few people from Royapuram and showed us their mannerisms, their body language etc. As I am a newcomer, she gave a special reading for me, then Srikanth joined and later the heroines. Slowly and steadily, she took me with her into the film step by step.

Secondly intense power was needed in my eyes and whenever I used to soften, she would shout at me albeit softly. She ensured that we were all on our toes and was very fierceful to such an extent that she completely transformed me into the character. A simple example is once when I went out with my friends, ordered for something and it did not come, I thought I had talked to the bearer politely but my friends felt my body language was very aggressive. That’s when I realized that I had imbibed Karuna completely. I even started dressing like Karuna.

On hitting Poorna?

Poorna played my sister’s role in Drohi. Poor girl she was. Poorna was at the receiving end from me through out the film. There were many combination scenes with her wherein I had to be very rough with her. As I had mentioned earlier, nothing can satisfy Sudha. During the first shot, I completed it lightly and Sudha was not happy and wanted more aggression. I had no problems but felt sad for Poorna. But Poorna was over enthusiastic and said she was game for anything. When she did not have any problem, I had no qualms and the next shot which was a lengthy one, I finished in one take and hit her strongly. And Poorna took permission to go to her caravan from the director and when she got back I saw her face was red with tear-laden eyes.

Poorna was at the receiving end

Another shot involved pulling her with me in a mall. In this shot, my thick woodland boots had completely bruised her toe nails and it had come out. Poor girl, she suffered so much because of me to the extent that she called me ‘anna’ in the press meet. I have never apologized to her and through behindwoods, I do this. Sorry Poorna!

All in all a different but a sad experience!

Experience with Siddharth Chandrashekher

After Vennilla Kabbadi Kuzhu, I was only getting village based scripts but I was not keen to take them as I did not want to be typecast. I was waiting for city based subjects and at the same time not too commercial. I also wanted some light subjects as I had made people cry in my first film but wanted to make them smile in the next. That’s when Siddharth Chandrashekher narrated me Bale Pandiya. I felt it was right as I have danced, fought, tried my hands in comedy and shown variety of expressions in the film. It was also a challenge for me. Siddharth used to say that I did not have any tags and can be put in any role. He is very creative and has done cute stuff in BP like Happy song with 20 singers, a song with no music, mama-maapiley number, silent fight, yacht fight, comedy underlined with sorrow, characterizations, dressing etc. It was wonderful experience to have worked with Siddharth Chandrasekhar.

Kulla Nari Kootam is a romantic


On Kulla Nari Koottam

Whenever a hero does an action film, he will be immediately branded as an action hero. But my next film after Drohi is a full length comedy with the team of Vennilla Kabbadi Kuzhu. Sri Balaji who was the co-director of VKK is the director of KNK and Remya Nambeesan is the heroine. Along with this, the team of VKK consisting of cameraman Lakshman Kumar, music director Selva Ganesh, Appukutty, Suri, Pondy, Sundar and Iyappan are all there. Kulla Nari Kootam is a romantic comedy. There is no villain, no fight in KNK and it will be laugh riot. Although a small knot, director has brought out in a big fashion on the screen. First time, I am doing comedy. In Bale Pandiya, I was sad and people laughed at me. It is also challenging to me as comedy is not easy; it is a tough task to make people laugh.

You started as a cricketer. What made you change your profession to films?

I started my career in cricket but when I had shin fracture and had to choose an alternate profession, an uncle of mine suggested films. That’s how my interest in cinema began. I tried for five years but in vain and I then joined a job. In ten days, cinema called me again. I will only call it a God’s grace. When I heard the story of VKK, I knew it was the right thing because I don’t have a filmi background and hence to bring out the emotions of a sportsperson, my cricketing background helped me.

Cinema called me

How do you choose scripts?

After I completed VKK, I did not get very many scripts. When I thought about it I realized I had done only a thin characterization in my first film. I understood the need to bring out variety, not only in my stories but also in looks. That’s why I chose Bale Pandiya as my second film because there was variation in my looks. In the same way, in Drohi, I put on 15 kgs and wore a different look. In Kulla Nari Koottam, it is entirely a different look. And the genres of my films are also different from one another. Generally when people write stories, they keep some hero in mind. After VKK, they will think of me for village based subjects; BP for city themes, Drohi for action oriented flicks and after KNK, I will be considered for comedy subjects too. The more I am in a director’s mind, my opportunities also will increase because cinema is a director’s medium. If there is variety in my roles in the early stages of my career, I will not be slotted. I will continue to try variation in my role as well as looks.

Why you chose Drohi?

I was pressured in Drohi because I was acting with experienced artists. It was a very powerful character. It takes a while for people to accept an action hero. I tried my best to make them accept me and I have also been appreciated for this. The reason for this is director Sudha. I myself am surprised that she has extracted so much from me. I am happy to realize that audiences have accepted me in action role. I thank them because it is their encouragement that motivates us to try out different roles. I never expected to get this big a response for my performance in Drohi and I am happy

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