Vikram tells this correspondent that though an actress from down South, like say Asin Thottumkal or Trisha can afford to keep on acting in Tamil as well as Hindi films even if a film does not do well at the box office, actors from the South like Kamal Hassan, Rajinikanth and he will be written off, if God forbids, a film does not do well at the box office.
Describe your role in Raavan, with which you have debuted in Hindi films!
I am playing a very stylish and focused role of Dev in Mani Ratnam"s Raavan. It is a very powerful role. For Dev, it is a job. It is not for the first time that I have essayed the role of a cop. Raavan is about love, relationship and what each of them wants from life. The three –Abhishek (Bachchan), Aishwarya (Bachchan) and I are catalysts in the film for one another.
How was the experience of working with Mani Ratnam?
Mani Ratnam sir gave me a lot of leeway and freedom as an actor. It was a big challenge for every one of us because we knew that we had to give our best to the film. It was tough as actors, because at times you would not know where the jungle ended and the sets began. And for me it was doubly tough because I was playing Raavan in the Tamil version and Dev in the Hindi version
How has your experience of working in a Hindi film been?
It was quite tough for me to act in Raavan. Though till Aparachit, the dubbed Hindi version of the Tamil hit Anniyan was released, I was known only down South, thanks to the release of the dubbed version, people started recognizing me even outside the South. I was shocked when people recognized me while I was shooting in the North for Raavan. When I was shooting for Raavan in Malshej, I was surprised when my local driver there asked me to sign in his autograph book. Even some of the junior artistes came up to me and asked me for my photograph and told me that they had liked me in Aparachit. I was shocked because I was told that the film did not do well.
Have you decided to take up more offers from Hindi filmmakers post-Raavan?
I have now decided to act in more films in Hindi because I find them very interesting. I have to strike the right balance between doing South Indian films and Hindi films. What I like about Hindi films is that the roles are written interestingly even for the characters. Like for example, you cannot take out Boman Irani"s role in 3 Idiots. Down South the star system is so prevalent that even if I agree to be part of a film like say the Tamil version of Raajneeti, the producer will not be able to cast other mega stars in it, the way Prakash Jha has made the film with an ensemble of actors in it.
Which are the Hindi actors that you admire?
Besides Aamir Khan, I admire Mr Bachchan, because he is one actor who even at this age is keeping in reinventing himself. I want to be like Mr Bachchan. Though I admired his performance in films like Paa, Cheeni Kum etc, I did not go to attend IFFA, of which he is the ambassador, because besides the fact that I do not gain anything by going to IFFA, I did not just feel like going.
In spite of being a super star down South, why you are not hosting a TV show?
I am amused when people in Mumbai ask me why I am not hosting a game show in Tamil, like say Amitabh Bachchan or Shahrukh Khan have done in Mumbai. The reason I am not doing is that down South the mindset is very different. If you host a show on TV, immediately they will write you off as an actor who is jobless as far as films are concerned. In every way I find Chennai and Mumbai different. Mumbai is so colourful and full of life, whereas Chennai is lifeless after it is 8 pm. We do not have a lifestyle down South, because life is dead after 8 pm.
Why do heroes from South do not get accepted in Bollywood like the Southern girls?
Girls add to the glamour quotient in any film and do not necessarily make their debut with a role which is pivotal to the film, whereas we men have got to rest the whole film on our shoulders. Also the girls can easily pack up everything and come to Mumbai to settle down here, because they have nothing to lose by way of their career. Kamal Hassan, Rajinikanth and I cannot afford to do that. What if it does not work here in Bollywood for us? Asin left everything and came down to work in Ghajini and London Dreams. London Dreams did not do well and she has again gone to Chennai to work in a Tamil film. A girl can afford to keep on acting in Tamil as well as Hindi films even if a film does not do well at the box office whereas we will be written off if God forbids a film of us does not do well at the box office.