Each character in “Ponniyin Selvan” is a hero and the actors playing these roles are huge stars but they made a decision to put craft above their on-screen personas, says superstar Vikram.
The Mani Ratnam-directed two-part magnum opus, boasts of some of the biggest names from the Indian entertainment industry, including Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jayam Ravi, Karthi and Trisha.
“When you go to a set, you have your aura, big or small hero, and everybody responds to you that way, unless you are a new face. So, the way you are treated you take that for granted.
“But when you have a film like this, everybody here is a hero or heroine. Then there is Mani sir, who is the master craftsman, (so) when we went there, we all forgot that image,” the actor told PTI in an interview here.
The film is a cinematic retelling of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s 1955 novels and chronicles the early days of Chola empire.
For his role as crown prince Aditha Karikalan in the movie, Vikram said he “read and read” the script and “imbibed a lot from it”.
“But when I went there, he (Ratnam) said, ‘I want you to feel like this person, like you are angry, unpredictable, try doing that but let’s not get into drama zone, keep it down, try to be real’. So, after a point, I became the character,” the actor said.
The two-part “Ponniyin Selvan” gave Vikram an opportunity to closely observe all his co-stars. He was particularly impressed by Ravi and Karthi’s acting styles.
“He (Ravi) is the most mischievous guy and has done feisty roles. He is a mass hero. I was like, ‘how is he going to be (Rajaraja Chola) because that guy is very different’. I wanted to know what he (Ravi) does. I was surprised.
“Karthi does so much homework, he reads a lot. I see his choice of films and I realise that it all helps him. He is able to grasp stories that are evocative, stories that engross you,” he said.
“Ponniyin Selvan” has been one of the biggest releases from Tamil industry, and the 57-year-old South star emphasised that audiences are now keen to see films that can transcend boundaries.
According to Vikram, subtitles have contributed to the wide popularity and commercial success of regional films.
“A film that stinks of nativity, and has something to do with one portion of India, will still work because emotions are always the same. People, after the pandemic, are open to watching subtitle films. Like, now, they are not just watching our films, they are watching Korean, German, French films contrary to what happened before,” Vikram said.
“Now, content becomes the hero more than anything else… I don’t think there is going to be pan-India or regional (film), whatever film is good, it will work. ‘Kantara’ was a very small film… It is so immersed in culture but it is being celebrated because it is more to do with the story,” he added.
The Chennai-born actor hailed 2016 Marathi romance-drama “Sairat”, helmed by Nagraj Manjule and Ajay Devgn-starrer 2020 blockbuster “Tanhaji: The Unsung Warrior”, which celebrated the contribution of a Maratha warrior Tanaji Malusare.
Vikram revealed he was offered Om Raut-directed historical action drama when the director was making the movie in Marathi language.
“Om had approached me (for ‘Tanhaji’) . I wanted to do it but I don’t know the language (Marathi). There was a time when he made it into Hindi. But it is a subject which is more Marathi than Hindi, but it was celebrated,” he said, adding, he was fascinated with the love story of “Sairat”.
“Ponniyin Selvan II” released in theatres worldwide on Friday in Tamil along with the dubbed versions in Hindi, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam.