Every time I call or meet Vijay Antony, he keeps saying he is “not a good actor”. The same happened this time, too. “It’s safe to speak the truth,” he says laughing. Kolaigaran, which hit the screens last week, is his 10th film. “When I was a sound engineer and a music director, only a few knew of me. It feels great to see fans encouraging content-driven films despite me not being a star. I am happy about the way everyone has received Kolaigaran. Good feedback keeps me going,” he adds.
Excerpts from a conversation:
Kolaigaran, as usual, belongs to your world of films.
(Laughs) I know what you are saying, but I didn’t sign it because of that. I found the narration quite gripping and was keen to not miss the project. It’s not that I am only attracted to dark films. Maybe, it has got something to do with the titles—I don’t know. But I can only choose the best of what is offered. Moreover, director Andrew Louis was my classmate in college and has helped me when I knew nothing about the industry people. He has assisted SJ Suryah as well.
Kolaigaran is not a typical hero-villain subject. We explored the other side of human nature, which is grey. Further, promotions played an important role in getting visibility. The credit goes to producer Pradeep and distributor G Dhananjayan, who came up with the idea of paying tributes to iconic suspense thrillers including Sigappu Rojakkal.
How was it to work with Arjun Sarja?
He is a natural actor who scores high even with fewer dialogues. He made me feel comfortable on the sets and it never felt like I was acting alongside an experienced artiste.
Your previous outing, Thimiru Pudichavan didn’t do well.
I think only you didn’t like it. Hey, I read your review, by the way. Let me simply presume you belong to the A-centre crowd. (Grins) But a senior film critic who I look up to liked it, which I didn’t know—until he interviewed me ahead of Kolaigaran’s release.
Reviews don’t necessarily represent what your average audience thinks. Take Saithan and Annadurai for example. They were good scripts, but I don’t understand why they didn’t work. Likewise, Pichaikkaran was a runaway hit. It doesn’t mean it was flawless. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it does not. You never know why. I get commercial acclaim because of critical acclaim and it is a chain reaction.
So, are you saying Thimiru Pudichavan was an excellent film?
It wasn’t bad. I can tell you that much. (Smiles) I quite enjoyed playing a loud cop. I don’t get such roles often.
Unlike other actors, you are not mindful of your image.
No film survives because of a big name. If a film has to survive generations, it will survive on its content and craft. I stay true to my characters because I know what works for me and does not. People don’t see me as a star, and that’s a huge advantage. My films run because of good content and nothing else. Mostly, my characters tend to be unheroic, drafted from the ranks of the ordinary. Anyone can relate to them and realism is the common thread. The audience doesn’t come to see me. (Laughs) I know it.
Do you get emotionally attached to your roles?
Not at all. I can switch on and switch off easily. I will be laughing or cracking a joke, and when you say ‘action’, I can do a serious scene. I don’t take my characters home. For example, you are a journalist and you write on films. Do you enter home actually as a journalist? I don’t think so. When you leave your workplace, it is natural that you leave those related traits right there.
Have you stopped multitasking? You used to compose music, produce and even edit films.
I became a producer because nobody was ready to finance my films. Thankfully, the scenario has changed. Now, there is less baggage and I am focusing more on acting. To be honest, acting is easy compared to anything else. In fact, I find it creatively satisfying. As for music, I have decided not to compose.
I always thought you are a better music composer.
Thank you. Though I had given many chartbusters, my stint as a music director was not all that great. As you are aware, I am not a trained composer and I didn’t know music. I slipped into depression because I was insecure about a lot of things. I am in a happy space at present. I like being an actor. It gives you a high. (Smiles)
Was there ever a back-up plan if films didn’t work out?
You know, my entire life is like a back-up plan. (Chuckles)
Are you still dreading dance sequences?
I am not a mass actor like Ajith sir or Vijay sir. I am working on them.
How is Tamizharasan shaping up?
Pretty well. The film has music by Ilaiyaraaja sir. People say I have also started speaking philosophy like him. (Smiles) That is what happens when you work with a legend. His energy is contagious.
I have Agni Siragugal, Khaki with Senthil Kumar and an untitled project with Ananda Krishnan of Metro fame in the pipeline. Simultaneously, I am listening to scripts.