We don't set out to make a bad film: Vikram Prabhu
The actor talks about turning producer with Neruppu Da and why it's a defining film for him
Vikram Prabhu has always taken pride in choosing projects that help him evolve as an actor. He’s always spoken about his eagerness to take risks as a performer. And now, he’s taking a different kind of risk with Neruppu Da. He’s turning producer with it, and isn’t as nervous as you’d expect him to be.
What made you produce Neruppu Da?
I believe that the script is the backbone of any film. I have always wanted to produce films that I believe in. Neruppu Da seemed like the perfect launchpad. The story is about the lives of five guys who want to become firemen. I have immense respect for firemen because while everybody runs away from a blaze, they run towards it. Putting their lives at risk to save others isn't a joke.
What sort of differences were there between Vikram, the actor, and Vikram, the producer?
I am always an actor on the sets. Only in the confines of my office, will you see me as a producer. It's a lot of pressure without doubt. I knew it would be challenging. To be on the safer side, I’ve picked a mix of both young and experienced technicians. Sean Roldan is the composer, while a veteran like RD Rajasekhar is the cinematographer. We spent a lot of time on pre-production work. I’m pleased that we could finish everything as planned. We have tried to keep the film as credible as possible to not let viewers down.
How did you zero in on director Ashok Kumar?
I think it’s endearing that Tamil cinema tries to cater at once to both urban and rural audiences. Neruppu Da isn’t a mass film, but the story should work commercially. We didn’t want to portray a detailed account of what it is to be a fireman in this film. We've attempted commercial cinema and as you know, that needs a bit of love, comedy, and action.
What was it like to shoot for the action sequences?
They were quite hard to pull off. I couldn't breathe properly, and felt like my insides were burning due to the heat while shooting some of the stunt sequences. Nadikkardhe ipdi naa, real life-la epdi irukum. Firemen are the unsung heroes who brave various conditions to save people. Neruppu Da has made me a more confident actor. It has taught me that I can work outside of my comfort zone.
What stories do you want to promote as a producer?
As a producer, I'd love to listen to many stories that fall under various genres. It has always been a tough call for me as an artiste to try and balance both social responsibility and creativity. But of course, the right script alone won’t do. You need a like-minded team to work with. Neruppu Da is that sort of film.
Your last film, Sathriyan, was not successful. Who should take the blame for it?
It's not right to blame someone when your films don’t do well. Let me blame myself for that. Something clearly was wrong somewhere. I never saw it coming, and that upsets me. We don’t set out to make a bad film. But I think I am learning.
How has your next film, Pakka, shaped up?
Very well. It's a fun film. I am teaming up with Nikki Galrani for the second time after Neruppu Da. She plays an ardent fan of Rajinikanth in it. Pakka also has Bindu Madhavi, Soori, and Sathish playing important roles.
Your dad and grandfather (Sivaji Ganesan) acted in many films together, but we haven’t seen you and your dad (Prabhu) share screen space yet.
Appa and thaatha did as many as 18 films together! I'd love to act with with appa. But we're waiting for the right script. (Smiles)