Vishnu Vishal: I did Lal Salaam for Rajini sir

..says Vishnu Vishal, talking about his upcoming political-sports drama Lal Salaam, which is hitting the screens this week 
Vishnu Vishal: I did Lal Salaam for Rajini sir

Vishnu Vishal is very much a cricketer at heart. Even though he stopped playing the sport professionally almost two decades ago, he compares the challenges he faces in the film industry as an actor/producer to the tricky deliveries he would encounter as a batsman. "Unlike cricket which happens to be my in-born talent, acting and producing films are skillsets that I acquired over the years. I still know there is room for improvement and am working harder each day to deep-root my place in the industry." Life has come a full circle for him in a lot of ways, as he plays a cricketer in his upcoming political-sports drama Lal Salaam, and shares the screen with Rajinikanth, the Superstar who spotted and encouraged his talent right from his debut in Vennila Kabaddi Kuzhu. "Acting alongside Rajini sir as a hero is a dream for many. When I got the chance in Lal Salaam, I grabbed it. Aside from this, the film has a good message that has been conveyed in a very engaging manner," shares an elated Vishnu.

The actor, who recently completed his 15th year in cinema, reveals that having a child-like enthusiasm to learn and being consistent in everything he does are the two factors that have brought him this far in the entertainment industry, as a first-generation producer-actor, "I get doubts in the most basic processes in cinema, but I never hesitated to clarify it with the right people around me. Whenever I meet an experienced person from the cinema, I talk to them as much as possible and get knowledge from them. It's a very competitive business that even giants are falling every year. I wanted to learn everything from scratch and now I can say with confidence that I know how the ecosystem of cinema functions."

This clarity of Vishnu is reflected in the way he forecasts the result of Lal Salaam on his career. He says, "Lal Salaam will be a good film and people will remember me for the good character I essayed. But I am aware that the film won't elevate my star status or commercial viability. I have other films lined up which will take care of these factors."

The Ratsasan actor goes on to share his admiration for Rajinikanth's wholesome understanding of cinema as a business, "Rajini sir reads the environment once he steps into the sets and will ensure that the budget doesn't exceed because of him at any cost. For instance, if it's a crucial scene that can be continued to the next day, he will finish it within a few takes and save the rent cost for a day. A superstar like him needn't be this considerate, but he always goes the extra mile." Vishnu also gushes about the legend's preparatory process. "Even if it is a simple dialogue, he tries out all possible variations and finalises the best one for the take. This ritual of him in turn eases out other actors who are starstruck around him."

Vishnu, who took home a couple of lessons from Rajinikanth, was on the news recently for befriending and hosting a different star: Aamir Khan. "His friendship is something beyond my dreams.  I am an introvert, who thinks twice before initiating a conversation with a stranger. But I have reached a point where I can say that Aamir sir is a friend and I can pull his legs without any inhibitions. It all started with an accidental meetup my wife had with him at a function. From there he slowly went on to become a close friend of our family within a year," shares Vishnu, who goes on to reveal that he might do a film under Aamir's production in the future. "Actually I have been turning it down, as I want to relish our bond and not let the business influence it anyway. But sir is keen on making a film with me. So, we might join hands at the right time, for the right script." Interestingly, Vishnu shares a similar bond with Telugu star Ravi Teja too. The Tollywood star even co-produced his Gatta Kusthi. "Ravi Teja sir and I have a lot in common. Though we met only a few years ago, many of our values and thinking patterns aligned. He is full of love and he decided to collaborate with me for FIR and Gatta Kusthi within just one meeting. I am just thankful to God for these connections, they are completely unplanned."

Lal Salaam is promoted as a sports film that carries a strong political message. Does Vishnu believe his personal views should align with the films he is part of? "Well, not exactly," he replies instantly, "I am majorly unaware of politics around the world. But if an issue happens in front of my eyes, I take time to understand the situation and take an informed stand on it. I turned down the RX 100 remake offer as I felt it was being partial to women, and I did Gatta Kushti to show that every gender is equal. These are the few instances where I took a clear stand with my films." He goes on to explain that he is okay with doing a film, which carries a message unrelated to his lived-in experience."I did Jeeva, just because I trusted Susienthiran sir. Being a cricketer I never faced any discrimination based on caste, but I cannot deny the core of the film, just because I got fair treatment. I believe in equality and freedom of speech. I have shared my contempt both even online whenever a section of our people act against it."

Vishnu registers that he doesn't believe in number games both in life and cinema, and he would rather wish to see everyone win together. "Life is treating us hard enough, so none of us should see each other as threats. I don't think anyone can be happy by focusing on pulling others down. Ellarum serndhu jeikradhu dhaana vazhkai?" he says with a smile.

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