‘I produce commercial films as nobody else offers them to me’
... says Vishnu Vishal, who hopes to strike a balance between those films, and the films he really likes doing
Every time Vishnu Vishal chooses a project, he does so to try and reinvent himself, he says. It’s a challenge that he confesses to enjoying. The actor, who has a promising line-up of films including Katha Nayagan, Pon Ondru Kandein, Silukkuvarupatti Singam and Ratchasan, says he tries to strike a balance between commercial cinema and the films he really enjoys doing. “That’s why I do an Indru Netru Naalai and then a Velainu Vandhutta Vellaikaaran (VVV). Films I pick should fill a creative void, yes, but they should also get financial returns,” he says.
He is done shooting for Silukkuvarupatti Singam. “It will be somewhat along the lines of VVV. It’s a fun film. But I didn’t pick it just because VVV was a hit. That film didn’t really have a script. This does.” He sees the film as a tug of war between the hero, a constable, and the villain. “I play a constable who doesn’t want to get involved in any issue. The name Singam (his character’s name) generally refers to a guy who’s bold. My role, however, will be totally in contrast.”
When he started out, Vishnu was content doing one film a year. That’s not the case anymore though. “The two films I did initially gave me a good name in the industry. And yet, nobody approached me. Even a producer I know said, “Unaku edhu varumo nee pannu. Commercial films laam pannadhaa.” The turn of events bothered me for some time.”
The actor since turned producer with VVV, last year. “I’ll continue producing commercial films under my banner because I don’t get such offers outside. They often think I am only capable of doing a Neer Paravai or a Maaveeran Kittu,” he laughs. The actor thinks that both films are linked. “A non-commercial film like Jeeva, when it does well, brings in audiences to the mass projects.”
Vishnu thinks that a good title is half the job done. “One of my projects was earlier titled Minmini, but now, we’ve renamed it Raatchasan. I involve myself in every aspect, including the film’s presentation, when it comes to my production,” he says.
Vishnu is a big admirer of Aamir Khan and wants to emulate him in his choice of films. “He has proved that even an off-beat subject like Dangal can do commercially well if the script is treated right. In my films like Mundasupatti, we have not shirked from being critical of society’s blind beliefs. In Indru Netru Naalai, there was a dialogue that went, ‘Vaazhkai nalla irukanum-na, namma edukkara mudivu nalla irukanum.’ It also has a good message to the audience. I like doing films that make a point or two to the audience.”
But didn’t his message-driven film, Maaveeran Kittu, fail at the box-office? “Actually, I don’t think it was a bad film. I agree that we could have done it better but there were many reasons it failed, including the rains, cyclone Vardah, the passing away of our Chief Minister. It was a horrible phase.”
There are different levels to being a hero, says the actor, and hopes that his Katha Nayagan will help him scale up to the next level. “It will be an out-and-out family entertainer and a laugh riot. My father-in-law K Natraj is playing the heroine’s father. The film is about the expectations that a girl’s dad has about his son-in-law. He wants him to be a hero. Hence, the title.”
Vishnu is also excited about Ratchasan, directed by Ram of Mundasupatti fame. “It’s a psychological thriller and I play a cop. The story revolves around an aspiring filmmaker-turned-policeman who uses his script to solve a murder. It’s an interesting script. I’ve worked quite hard for this film. We shot for 75 days,” he says.
Vishnu believes that his hard has stood him in good stead. “I’ve worked hard from the first day I stepped into films. I don’t hail from a film background. I couldn’t achieve the results I wanted immediately. When there were failures, I’d think of actors like Vijay Sethupathi and Sivakarthikeyan, who, no doubt, didn’t have it easy,” he says. “Avungala vida naa adhigama kashtam paakala. Also, people like Arya, Vishal and Udhayanidhi Stalin have encouraged me constantly. I have always been adamant about being a hero. I could never bear to be a second lead.”
From the end of this month, he’ll begin shooting for another film, Pon Ondru Kandein, produced by Gautham Menon. “It’s an official remake of Pelli Choopulu. Gautham will be introducing his longtime associate Senthil Veerasamy as the director. I can’t contain my excitement,” he adds. Being adamant, it seems, has paid off richly for Vishnu Vishal.