Vijay is cool and composed as usual. The Ilayathalapathy of Tamil cinema is on cloud nine as his Pongal release Nanban is running to packed houses, taking a gargantuan opening at the ticket windows. Cine lovers have lauded Nanban, with many of the opinion that the remake of 3 Idiots, a cult classic was indeed an image-make over for the star. But Vijay begs to differ with this observation. Here are the excerpts from the interview.
Are you happy about the response that Nanban has been receiving?
I am pleased (smiles) that everyone likes the film. It is the victory of the script.
They say Nanban is a faithful remake and that’s why it worked. Was it a conscious effort to stick to the original?
Yes, initially when I met up with Shankar, he was very clear that we should not tamper with the script. He made a few subtle nativity changes, dialogues, the look and the songs. Rest of it is the same.
But how were you convinced about doing a remake like this, in which you didn’t have a mass hero image?
I had seen 3 Idiots when it released and loved the film. Never in my wildest dream did I think that I will do the remake. But when Gemini approached me I was in two minds. But soon I heard that Shankar will direct the film and I was sure that it was a risk worth taking.
Read Nanban review
How was it working with Shankar?
He was a treat to work with. He gave me complete freedom and I realized that having done few dramas earlier, he is an amazing actor himself. That’s why he can enact the right emotion he wants and get the best out of any actor.
Were you influenced by Aamir Khan’s acting in 3 Idiots?
Like I said earlier, I infused my style and body language to the role. But there are certain cute expressions that Aamir did in 3 Idiots which I didn’t want to miss and so I incorporated it in Nanban.
Are you changing tracks and trying to reinvent your image with Nanban?
I have been doing different kind of films for a long time and it’s surprising that you are making a note of it now. I have worked on diverse films like Kathalikku Mariyadai, Thullatha Manavum Thullum, Friends or Kaavalan at regular intervals. Somehow this news of me changing tracks with reputed directors like Shankar, Murugadoss and Gautham Menon has been doing the rounds.
Let me tell you that I always wanted to work in varied scripts but sadly no such scripts came knocking at my doors. And I was forced to go back and make a minimum guarantee mass film with four action scenes, song ‘n’ dances and viola, a film was ready. Films like Nanban has to happen and we can’t plan and go search for it.
Tell us about the rapport you shared with Jiiva and Srikanth?
When we started the film, I hardly knew them but by the time the film ended, I got two buddies for life. We bonded well and that shows in the film. They both did their respective roles with conviction and I love the scene when Srikanth confronts his dad. It was very touching.
All the songs are picturised lavishly. Which is your favourite?
Aska Laska and En Frienda Pola are my favourites. But lot of people like Irukkaanna choreographed by Farah Khan.
Heard that your wife Sangeetha hugged you after watching the film?
Yes, she was so happy and even said that it is my career best film. I went for some promotions after the first show and came back home late to find my son was waiting for me. When I stepped out of my car he pulled down his pants and said “Thalaiva you are great” like how Jiiva and Srikanth does in the film. I was so touched and it was the biggest compliment I received.
Haha. We also heard you gave a big party at your ECR villa celebrating the success of the movie.
Yes, all of us Shankar sir, Jeeva, Srikanth and our sound designer Resul Pookutty sir were present at the party. My wife Sangeetha was happy to treat them. We had a great time together talking about the movie and other things. I’m so glad that the movie is doing well and find some new friends.
Thanks a lot for spending your valuable time with us. We wish you all the success with your future projects.