The Maverick Genius – Vikram
Christened as Kennedy John Victor by his parents, here’s one actor who has been acclaimed as one of the best in the country. Paeans have been written about him and awards conferred upon him. But he remains untouched. What matters most to him is to constantly challenge himself and ensure that the audiences get their share of entertainment. Vikram AKA Chiyaan and Kenny to his fans, is the winner of six Filmfare Awards, one National Film Award and Tamil Nadu State Film Award amongst other recognitions, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the People’s University of Milan a few years ago.
His debut in the 1990 with the film En Kadhal Kanmani was followed by a series of small-budget Tamil, Malayalam and Telugu films in the 1990s, many of which went unnoticed. However the success of Bala’s tragedy film Sethu in 1999, in which Vikram appeared as a rogue turned lover, kickstarted Vikram’s successful career as an actor. In the early 2000s, Vikram appeared in a series of commercial blockbusters, with Dhil, Gemini, Dhool and Saamy. What got him critical acclaim was his performance as a blind villager in Kasi and a Robin Hood-esque figure in Samurai. In 2003, Vikram’s performance as a gravedigger with autism spectrum disorders in Bala’s Pithamagan won him the National Film Award for Best Actor, with his character only speaking a couple of lines in the entire film. His appearance as an idealistic lawyer with multiple personality disorder in Shankar’s blockbuster Anniyan also won him tremendous critical acclaim, as did his appearance as a superhero in Kanthaswamy. Vikram’s portrayal of Veeraiya, a tribal leader inspired by the character of Ravana from the Ramayana, in Mani Ratnam’s Raavanan saw him secure further accolades, as did his appearance as a mentally challenged adult with the maturity of a six-year-old boy in Deiva Thirumagal. He consequently appeared in multiple get-ups as a bodybuilder and a crippled hunchback, losing up to 35 kilograms for sequences, during the making of Shankar’s romantic thriller `I ‘ early this year and won rave reviews from critics for his performance. It is currently the third highest-grossing Tamil film of all time.
Vikram has his head firmly on his shoulders and heart in its right place. He has promoted various social causes and has appeared as the Youth Envoy for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. He has been a brand ambassador of Sanjeevani Trust and a school for special children, Vidya Sudha, which he stayed at during the making of Deiva Thirumagal as well as having long-term associations with the Kasi Eye Care and runs Vikram Foundation, his own charity.
“I never lose my temper. If I am upset about something, if I sense a misunderstanding, I just walk up to the person and talk it over. I don’t bottle things up inside me. I am a bad actor in real life. I can’t lie, and if I do, you can clearly tell I am lying.”
“I am a big fan of Rajini sir. He is a class by himself. If there are hundred people in a frame and if he is there, you don’t watch anyone but him, that takes a lot of doing, I don’t think anybody else can do it.”
“I do not claim to be superior. There are many people who are talented and come up with unbelievable performances. I like to watch everyone’s acting and imbibe a little of it. My main aim is to perform as much variety as possible without being cast in a stereotype.”
“My passion for cinema has to be answered and I will keep the journey as long as it burns inside me. “
“For me, I guess, success has been the result of a combination of hard work, perseverance and a little talent. I won’t add luck to it in a major way because had I been lucky, success would have happened much earlier. But the hard fact is that despite the setbacks and upsets, I never was distracted.”
“I owe my success to the continued affection of my fans and I feel it is my duty to offer them rich and varied fare.”