‘The accident in ‘Pichaikkaran 2’ shoot made me stronger’

It was a bright sunny day on January 16 in Malaysia. Actor-musician Vijay Antony, who turned director with Pichaikkaran 2 was filming a song sequence for the film.
Actor Vijay Antony (File | EPS)
Actor Vijay Antony (File | EPS)

It was a bright sunny day on January 16 in Malaysia. Actor-musician Vijay Antony, who turned director with Pichaikkaran 2 was filming a song sequence for the film. For a particular shot, Vijay Antony had to ride a jet ski close to a nearby boat that had the cinematographer and his assistant on board. After acing the first shot, Vijay wanted to go for one more. But this time, the tides were high, and as he came close to the other boat, he lost his balance. His face hit the boat’s rim, and he fell into the water. And then… 

It was a bright sunny day on May 3 in Chennai. The stage was set for Vijay’s first appearance since the accident. He was meeting the press ahead of Pichaikkaran 2’s release on May 19. This was also the first time he opened up about the dangerous accident. “I feel mentally and physically stronger now like never before. I am grateful to my co-star Kavya Thapar and camera assistant Arjun who jumped into the sea to rescue me. I sustained several injuries on my face, which is now reconstructed with surgical plates. I feel like Ironman,” says an optimistic Vijay, bursting into laughter.

The laughter continued to ring through the interaction when Vijay pointed out his bad luck with romance. “Actors usually suffer injuries while shooting action sequences, and then there is me…” says the actor-filmmaker, adding, “The accident has changed me. I feel like I am a new person, and I hope to achieve many heights in the coming days.”

After establishing a prolific career as a musician and actor, Vijay clarifies that donning the director’s hat was not one of the checkboxes on his bucket list. “After I wrote Pichaikkaran 2, I approached Sasi sir (director of Pichaikkaran). After he couldn’t commit to the project due to certain personal commitments, I went to 7-8 filmmakers with the script. Only when everything fell through that I decided to take up the directorial responsibilities,” he says. 

Denying claims about Pichaikkaran 2 being a direct sequel to the superhit 2016 film, Vijay says that there is a significant beggar character that helps in the narrative. “The film is about a character named Vijay Gurumoorthy, who is India’s 7th richest man,” reveals the filmmaker and delves deep into the changes from the original. “Be it the colour palette or the visual aesthetics, we have treated Pichaikkaran 2 as a mass actioner. If the first film had a mother-son relationship at its core, Pichaikkaran 2 will reflect on a brother-sister relationship. The film will make the audience emotional,” assures Vijay, who goes on to reveal another important difference between both the films.

“In the first film, there was a personal interest behind the protagonist’s actions but Pichaikkaran 2 will focus on a common cause. The concept of brain transplantation is also an essential aspect in the upcoming film,” he shares.

While using the same name does help in recall value, there is no doubt that pressure and comparisons are par for the course. Reflecting on that, Vijay believes he didn’t take up undue pressure because the goals of both films were different. “How many ever films I do, nothing can come close to Pichaikkaran. It is a special film for me. Also, since Pichaikkaran 2 is not a sequel, there was no need to burden myself with fear or pressure,” he says.

‘Pichaikkaran 2 will focus on a common cause’

Vijay Antony, who began his musical career in 2005, is known for his chartbusters that have stood the test of time. An important highlight of his music career is his versatility which saw him deliver memorable hits across genres with films like Dishyum, Kadhalil Vizhundhen, Ninaithale Inikkum, Vettaikaaran, Uthama Puthiran, Vedi, and more.

This same versatility is the underlying theme of his acting career that has seen him dabble in crime thrillers (Naan, Salim, Kolaigaaran), romantic comedy (India Pakistan), political thriller (Annamalai, Yeman), family drama (Pichaikkaran), psychological thrillers, (Kaali, Saithaan), and mass entertainers (Thimiru Pudichavan and Kodiyil Oruvan).

Despite making a lasting mark as both an actor and a musician, Vijay Antony continues to underplay his achievements. “I still say that I am neither a great composer nor a great actor. As far as music is concerned, I am not a trained professional. I learnt everything listening to Ilaiyaraaja sir’s compositions. And when it comes to acting, I only try and do roles that I am comfortable with. However, going ahead, I’d like to break out of my comfort zone and experiment with new things,” he shares.

Another fascinating aspect of Vijay Antony’s career is his proclivity to work with newcomers. Observing that it is the story that matters to him and not the legacy of the creator, Vijay Antony says, “Honestly, I am a mid-level actor. I did not expect big directors to work with me. In fact, in my early days, I faced a lot of rejection and insults. So I decided that when I become someone important, I would provide opportunities for budding talent. However, I am open to collaborating with everyone as long as they have a compelling story to tell. Now that I have directed myself in Pichaikkaran 2, I want to experience the feeling of directing big stars in the future.”

But how was it to direct himself right in his debut directorial? “I know that I am a subtle performer, and worked around my advantages and disadvantages. After all, I am my best judge,” he chortled. However, Vijay Antony is quick to establish how serious he is about directing. “After Pichaikkaran 2, the way I consume films has changed. I am watching a lot of films now, and I concentrate more on how a shot is filmed, and the kind of detailing that has gone behind each scene.”

Now, it is safe to say that Vijay Antony is one of the bonafide all-rounders of Tamil cinema. Apart from directing, acting and composing music for Pichaikkaran 2, Vijay Antony is also the film’s editor and producer. Interestingly, the multi-hyphenate artist considers himself as an audience first, and it is this steadfast belief that has kept him ahead of the curve.

“Except while on sets, working on-screen or behind the camera, I am more of an audience. I put myself in their shoes, and understand their ideas, expectations and preferences better. I think it helps me to be one with them and gives me the strength to bring out what they would love to experience on screen,” he signs off.

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