"I am moving out of my apartment due to the whole fiasco with my neighbour; that’s why I had to arrange for these interactions here," says Vishnu Vishal as he welcomes me inside the suite in The Park to talk about his upcoming multilingual, Kaadan, which is releasing this Friday.
Directed by Prabu Solomon, Kaadan has Rana Daggubati in the titular role and Vishnu Vishal in one of the supporting roles, and the Ratsasan star doesn’t hesitate to call it 'second fiddle'.
Such self-awareness of his place in the industry coupled with his strong intent to constantly step-up his game was evident all through the conversation that also touched upon his upcoming films, and struggles of being a producer during these trying times.
Excerpts from the interview:
You did a supporting role in the unreleased film, Idam Porul Eval, even back in 2013, but now, after churning out hits like Ratsasan, do you have any second thoughts about that?
Even if I am part of a film with multiple actors, I tell myself I should be the hero of it. Take Neerparavai, for example, it had commendable performers like Nandita Das, Sunaina, and Samuthirakani, but my role stood out.
That;s how I go about choosing my projects. I don’t have to be the protagonist but my role should be the one that’s spoken about.
Even Prabu Solomon wondered if I am 'okay' to take up a supporting character. I told him the film will not jeopardise my career. I love to be part of good films, and that also has a needed takeaway about nature and how elephants are important for the forest and us. In addition to that, it also happens to be my Telugu launch. I am glad to be doing such meaningful roles.
Netru Indru Naalai, Maaveeran Kittu, Jeeva... with a look at your filmography, one can gauge your intent to do something unique with every other film.
I tried to do one film in different genres. It is an immensely painful process. I had to wait for at least a year to find the right script because I could only work around a certain budget slot. Now, I have progressed to the next one. So, in place of one script a year, I have gotten hold of five scripts. It is a deliberate process. That’s how I landed Ratsasan. No one believed I could pull off such a role. Now, I am claiming FIR, my upcoming project is going to be the best film of my career. I don’t make such claims easily.
How unique was the Kaadan experience?
Not many actors would get to work with elephants! I got to know about the majestic beasts and the role they play in sustaining the equilibrium of the forest. If elephants are to go extinct, the forests will follow suit. Apart from such learnings, working with actors and technicians from the Hindi and Telugu industries was another new experience for me.
What is FIR about?
I gravitate towards films that are based on real-life incidents. FIR is based on many such true stories. My best friend is a Muslim, and I wanted to do the film as a tribute to him. There is a wrong notion about the community that prevails in society. This film is an attempt to break it. It is a story of a wrongly accused Muslim guy and his life struggles.
Films that involve Islam and terrorism have been criticised for being islamophobic…
Yes, we were aware of that aspect while making FIR but it will no way offend the community. In fact, we haven’t taken a stand or ‘told’ a message with the film. FIR will just project the reality that we live in. Once you watch the film, you will know it means well.
What about your other upcoming film Mohandas?
Every guy who has the name ‘Mohandas’ is not a Gandhi, that’s the underlying message of the movie. It is a murder investigative thriller about a psycho. I play the anti-hero in it. So, this time around I am the Ratsasan.
You are producing FIR and Mohandas, how tough is it to be a producer in such trying times?
It is very tempting to release the movie on OTT. But I came ‘here’ through theatres, and I would want to watch my films release on big screens. Enakkunu oru saththu iruku. With that, I will try my best to hold on to the film for theatrical release, but in an unlikely circumstance, I can only do so much.