‘I am not a natural actor like Kamal Haasan’
Vijay Antony, whose Annadurai is releasing today, believes that his strength is in knowing what he can and can’t do
Vijay Antony is soft-spoken as ever, but underneath the calmness is a lot of anxiety. “Making a film is easy, but sticking to its planned release date is a big challenge,” he says. I ask if he’s confident about Annadurai’s success, and despite having quite a few hits to his name, Vijay Antony remains sceptical. “I know I’m not a good actor. When I commit to a project, this is constantly on my mind… While I’m eating, driving, I am constantly thinking of ways to make my role work.”
As an actor, he has two main focus areas. “To get the emotions right, and to hold the scene,” he says. “I don’t think I was able to achieve that in my first film (Naan). But I have since learned, even though I am not a complete actor yet,” he smiles.
In this week’s release, Annadurai, the actor plays a double role—the eponymous protagonist, a textile shop owner (who drinks a lot), and Thambidurai, a PT master. “They’re both good in their own right. The elder brother is a loud talker, while the younger one isn’t. Also, Annadurai-ku dhaadi irukkum, Thambidurai-ku illa,” he laughs.
It wasn’t too hard to play the double role, as the characters don’t share screen space too often, but it still took Vijay Antony sometime to get into the skin of the characters. “I am not a natural like Kamal Haasan, and so, I do a lot of homework. I don’t know my craft, but I know the techniques. I take into consideration the director I’ll be working with before agreeing to a film. It’s perhaps because of all these things that I’ve achieved considerable success in the commercial sense of the term in recent years.”
He believes in internalising a character before he steps on the sets. “For me, the whole point of becoming an actor was to get the opportunity to be somebody else—to experience life as another person,” he says. “I know what I know and what I don’t. For instance, I don’t think I’m capable of being funny on screen.”
Vijay Antony has also edited this film. “Any film truly gets made on the editor’s table. When you edit, you learn the art of filmmaking. The scenes need to be weaved in an engaging style to try and create an emotional experience for the audience. There’s no right or wrong editing—it’s either powerful or not. I want to be a part of new-age filmmaking where my involvement can contribute to the whole process.”
Can acting be fixed through editing? Vijay laughs, “Oh, even you say I am a bad actor? Sometimes, you can get away with discontinuity.” He says he’s always been a technician first, and only then an actor. “I started my career as a sound engineer, and learned that small decisions can have a big impact on the screen.” He finds editing to be easier than acting. “It’s incredibly hard to lose your inhibitions in front of the camera. Editing, thankfully, happens in a dark room!” he laughs.
He’s also had his challenges with dancing. “I can’t dance. I know that. I also get really uncomfortable with intimate romantic scenes,” he says. That’s perhaps why he does a lot of intense and dark scripts like Saithan or Pichaikkaran. “I think it’s too early to categorise me as an actor. I have tried not to limit myself to any one genre. Yaman was different from Saithan. Annadurai will be different from any of my films. In the Telugu market, I am a nobody. Indrasena is getting released today, and I am feeling jittery about it,” he says. “I don’t have an image of a star— even in Tamil Nadu. Fortunately, my films enjoy a good run because of the content. Every time I choose a project, it defines me.”