Invariably, all my interactions with the Ilaiya Thalapathi have had me doing most of the talking! A poser that ran into a few sentences was rarely fielded in a similar fashion. Reply was almost always restricted to a couple of words! Slightly different this time as I shoot questions about Velayudham , which is ready to roll out this Deepavali, he fields them with cheer. Laughs Vijay: “Basically, I'm reticent. To the extent that some find it exasperating. But that's my nature. All the same, I do share all the relevant material with you, don't I? And how can I go on and on about my own work?”
Yet Vijay was quite articulate at the audio release of the film in Madurai and even sang the opening lines of a Velayudham number, which had the star-struck crowd going crazy! “That's cultivated, to please fans who want me to croon a couple of lines every time I'm on stage. Otherwise I prefer to remain low-key,” he says.
Director Raja had spoken to me at length about the risks Vijay has taken for Velayudham . In the name of authenticity, many heroes court danger while enacting action sequences. “Risk, yes, but it's not recklessness,” contends Vijay. “Whether it is the stuntmen or the heroes, these days ample precaution is taken to ensure their safety. Of course, mistiming could lead to accidents.” As it happened in his case when he jumped off a high rise for Piriyamudan and was confined to bed for 45 days. “Yeah, as I said, the calculation went wrong,” he shrugs. “And do you know the doctors had given up on me and said I might not be able to walk ever?” Yet why does he resort to such daredevilry? Even in Badri, he let a huge container lorry run over his hands. It was a much talked about scene then!
Surely, despite all the boldness he should be experiencing the jitters while actually performing the stunts. “As I said, enough safety measures are taken and when my body double can do it, why can't I, is the thought that spurs me on. And no, I don't develop cold feet at all.”
Vijay may look sedate and serious, but he has been part of some unforgettable rib-tickling situations on screen. Who can forget the hilarity he provided in Friends , Ghilli and also in this year's January fiesta, Kaavalan ? “Comedy, when contrived, is bound to fall flat. Even while going through the lines I can gauge whether it would work with our audiences. Spontaneity will be a scoring point in the comedy concepts we've enacted in Velayudham .”
And in classics such as Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai and Kannukkul Nilavu , Vijay proved that he can be equally effective in sentiment. Does Velayudham offer him scope for another such sober, underplayed portrayal? “Yeah, we have a few sequences, where both sentiment and action are the highlights. ‘When you strike the villain with all your might to give vent to your pent up anger, the audience should feel the adrenaline rush. The empathy will surely translate into positive results,' my dad [director S.A. Chandrasekaran] tells me often. I feel the audience will experience it in Velayudham .”
On and off, Vijay turns singer for his films. Did he feel he could have sung a number for Velayudham , particularly when he listened to ‘Mulachu Moonu …' a chartbuster? “Not exactly, but I like the ‘Maayam Seidhaayo' piece too. They have been beautifully captured on screen. Priyan, the cinematographer, has been an asset to Velayudham . The speed at which he operates is incredible,” certifies Vijay. And in the same vein adds, “I've followed Raja's films and found him to be an astute filmmaker. Remakes aren't easy and the amount of originality he weaves into his scripts impresses me. Working with him in Velayudham has only reinforced my opinion.”
The year began with a bang for Vijay when Kaavalan , which had a trying time finding its way to the cinemas, eventually, turned up trumps. Velayudham is Vijay's second release in 2011 and going by the buzz, should be another winner for the hero. “Again to quote my dad, ‘If the base of a line is strong, none can stop its run.' The premise is a highpoint of Velayudham ,” he smiles.
His audiences include men, women and children both young and old, besides a formidable fan base of hardcore loyalists. During an earlier meeting Vijay had told me, “I give my audience what I as a movie goer like to watch on screen.” So did he enjoy watching Velayudham ? “Sure, I did,” he says, pauses for a moment and asks, “I don't sound over-confident, do I?” That's another interesting facet of this matinee idol — the reassurance he seeks despite his words being measured.
Comedy, when contrived, is bound to fall flat. Even while going through the lines I can gauge whether it would work. Spontaneity will be a scoring point in the comedy concepts in Velayudham