Massive audio launches had almost become a relic of the past, thanks to the pandemic, but the makers of Kamal Haasan’s much-hyped film, Vikram, have turned back time with a star-studded audio and trailer launch event that was held on Sunday evening, which kickstarted with renowned singers Srinivas, Haricharan, Naresh Iyer, Saindhavi, Shwetha Mohan, and Sathyaprakash with their rendition of Kamal Haasan classics. Vikram, incidentally, marks the return of Kamal Haasan in a film after three years.
Director Lokesh Kanagaraj, Anirudh Ravichander, Vijay Sethupathi, Udhayanidhi Stalin, and Silambarasan TR were among the first to arrive at the event. The loudest of all the cheers was, of course, reserved for Kamal Haasan, who greeted his fans with his Maiam hand gesture.
Special guest Pa Ranjith was the first to speak and chose to address criticism that there is a dearth of good content in Tamil cinema. He believed that Vikram would be a fitting response. The arena thundered when Ranjith revealed that a project with Kamal Haasan was on the cards. “I’m a huge fan of Virumaandi and hope to do a Madurai-based subject with him. As opposed to the usual veshti-clad Madurai hero, we might even see Kamal sir all suited up in my film,” said Ranjith.
Udhayanidhi Stalin, who is distributing Vikram, began his speech by thanking Kamal Haasan for letting him get on board at the last minute. “Many asked whether I forced him into this collaboration, but we know that he isn’t one to succumb to coercion. Only we both know how this association happened. I wish to let it remain between us.”
The crowd went into raptures when Vijay Sethupathi was invited on stage, with the actor having to request the audience to let him talk. “I requested Lokesh to give me a role in Vikram,” admitted Vijay Sethupathi. “In life, it is important to be around people like Kamal Haasan because our thoughts get enriched. He is an ocean of knowledge. I was curious to know his thought process, his approach to cinema, the way he cracks a scene...More than getting a chance to act with him, these insights excited me a lot,” said Vijay Sethupathi, who also expressed his desire to act under Kamal’s direction someday.
Anirudh Ravichander, who had been working non-stop for three days, didn’t let the exhaustion get to him, even as he performed the Vikram title song with full gusto. On reuniting with Lokesh after Vijay’s Master, Anirudh said, “Master might have been half a Lokesh film, but Vikram is a fanboy sambavam. I don’t usually brag about my films, but this film has come out really well.”
Lokesh Kanagaraj took time to thank the major actors and technicians who were part of the film. In a notable gesture, he called up his 16 assistants on stage to express his gratitude. A man of few words, Lokesh found himself too overwhelmed to express his emotions about doing a film with Kamal Haasan. “I was a fan who would wait outside his house for hours just to catch a glimpse. I’m here in life because of him. Fortune and other factors aside, yes, it’s also because of my hard work.” He concluded by thanking Suriya for agreeing to do a cameo in the film. “I wanted to keep this a secret, but it got leaked. Once you watch the film, you will know why I have thanked him.”
READ OUR REVIEW OF VIKRAM HERE: Fulfilling action saves this ambitious multi-starrer
After the event crossed the five-hour mark, Kamal Haasan finally took the stage, and his speech was not limited to the film, as he touched upon socio-political issues, the need to stand united in testing times, and how ideological differences don’t matter when it comes to making cinema. Calling himself a ‘polity-culturist’, Kamal said, “The people of Tamil Nadu have given a lot for me. Now, it’s my turn to give them something. Why am I doing this now? If not now, then when?”
The collaboration between Raajkamal Films International and Red Giant Movies led to discussions about conflicting political ideologies. “Political ideologies aside, I have been friends with MK Stalin for several years. It’s similar to my relationship with Rajinikanth. We may be competitors, but we are friends first.”
Impressed with Lokesh’s journey as a filmmaker, Kamal said that the combination with his “ardent fan” would happen again. It was also heartening to see the veteran calling up supporting actors on stage to honour them. Finally, Kamal thanked his “thambi Suriya” for being part of Vikram.