'My personal life has gone for a toss'
... says Vishal, who's basking in the success of his latest release, Irumbu Thirai
Vishal is a picture of quiet contentment. His latest release, Irumbu Thirai, has come out to positive reviews. His last year too was quite productive, as he starred in Mysskin's Holmesian Thupparivaalan, and made his Malayalam debut alongside Mohanlal in Villain. "I have a nice line-up this year too, with Sandakozhi 2 and a remake of the Telugu hit, Temper. It's all looking good," says Vishal with a smile, as he takes questions about his latest release, and his work for Nadigar Sangam.
It's been almost a decade since you worked with a new director. What made you say yes to PS Mithran (director of Irumbu Thirai)?
It's always good to voice out something in a commercial format. Sometimes, you come across young directors with new ideas, and they just floor you with their content. Mithran's ideas and detailing got me hooked. What he told me were things I didn't really know till then -- hackers, surveillance, data theft, the Aadhar card issue... I felt it was going to be one of the best films of my career.
You liked it so much that you decided to produce it yourself?
I'm selfish when it comes to these young directors (laughs). I'm sure we wouldn't have come up the same output with a different producer. I'm glad I produced it; I've got a film to be proud of.
We heard that the army man angle was written in, after you got on board. It's surprising you hadn't played an army man before this film, given your physique.
I take up films and roles as they come. I've done cop roles (Vedi and Satyam) but when Mithran narrated the army angle, it seemed nicely interwoven. Again, I learned a lot about the life of an army man. I didn't know, for instance, that such people cannot have passports, or that they struggle to get loans or a house for rent.
You also worked with Samantha for the first time in this film.
She's a sweetheart and one hell of a professional. I love that she has broken the myth that married actors can't act as heroines.
You worked as an assistant director for Arjun before you made your debut with Chellamae. What was it like to reunite with your mentor?
Arjun sir is the prized possession of Irumbu Thirai. I never expected that one day, he would be a villain in my film. He told me, "Naan unna hero aakunen. Ippo nee enna villain aakite. (I made you a hero, and now, you have made me a villain.)"
Till the climax, the villain is always a step ahead of the hero. We rarely see that in a commercial film.
The Joker's role in The Dark Knight showed that if the antagonist has a powerful role, the protagonist gets complemented, and the whole film becomes something else. We went by the same philosophy here.
Irumbu Thirai talks about cybercrime and how we are easy targets. Have you been a victim of it?
I have actually. When I was abroad once, about 80 thousand got debited from my credit card and I couldn't recover that amount. When we press 'allow' while installing apps on our mobile phones, we don't know the information we are letting them access. We also tend to go overboard with the posts and photos we upload on social media. Your personal life is on display for everyone to see.
Celebrities have to be even more careful. There have been instances of people talking to women, pretending to be me. A few years back, we nabbed a person who got money from a girl, promising her that she could meet me. Anyone can claim to be me in the cyber world. They can tweet something and create chaos.
Actor, producer, General Secretary of the Nadigar Sangam and President of Tamil Film Producers Council. How do you juggle all these roles?
It's all about time management. Six hours of sleep, and the rest of the time is for what you want to do. Am I truly happy with how I'm managing things? Perhaps not. After taking over as the President of the Producers Council, my personal life has gone for a toss. But it's okay. I'm doing it for the right reasons.
Will Sandakozhi 2 continue from where the first film ended?
Yes, it is set seven years after the happenings of the first film. We have another 40 days of work left on the film. These days, we have to book an advance slot for getting films released. I've asked for the Vinayagar Chaturthi slot (September 18).
You have been pretty quiet about the remake of Temper.
That film will roll immediately after I get done with Sandakozhi 2. It's, again, a film close to my heart because of the issue we will be talking about in it. It's also with a debutant director.
What's next for Vishal?
Every year I think of directing a film, I keep pushing it aside. I have to finish work on the Nadigar Sangam building first. So, yes, for the moment, that's what I'm focussing on.