Vikram starring Kamal Haasan, Vijay Sethupathi, and Fahadh Faasil is slated to hit the theatres on June 3. Ahead of its release, director Lokesh Kanagaraj talks to Ramya Subramanian about the film's making, working with the three powerful performers, and his fanboy moments watching Kamal Haasan's films.
Edited excerpts below:
What is your state of mind amidst all the last-minute post-production work for Vikram?
I am trying to be as calm as possible. There is pressure but we're very close to the release date, so, the last stages of post-production and censoring are going on.
Recently, in an interview in Cannes, Kamal Haasan said that the seed of the film was an idea from him and that you worked on it from thereon. Can you tell us what happened from there?
When it was decided that I would make a film with Kamal Haasan, we had a narration for a different script. Kamal Haasan liked the story but when we further discussed it, I told Kamal Haasan that there was nothing that he hasn't done and I'd asked him if there are any interesting ideas that he had. Kamal Haasan told me about a character from the original Vikram and it was superb. I then told him to stop at a point and said that I'll take the character from there and build a story.
He asked me whether I liked the character and I'd told him that I'd loved it. From there it took me about six to eight months to make a bound script. At various stages of the script development, we had narrations. First, I told him about the theme based on which I am developing the story. Then, at the midpoint, when the interval block came we had one narration and finally, after six to eight months I finished the second half narration and handed over the bound script.
How much of the new Vikram resemblance the old one?
Other than Kamal Haasan's character name, there will not be any resemblance. It is a completely new and clean film and has nothing to do with the old film. So, if the original Vikram is alive even now, what it would be like is what the story is about.
We presume that Vikram is Kamal Haasan in the film, is that right?
I wouldn't say that. It's a spin-off character in this story period.
At the end of the trailer, Kamal Haasan searches for Vikram. So, there is a question, who is Vikram?
You should watch those little surprises in the film itself.
In the Vikram trailer, there was a ton of action. So, when we think this is going to be a full end action film and the genre is an action emotional, and drama genre film. We saw a bit of action, where are the thriller and emotion?
Thriller and emotion are very much drama-related. So, we can't expose much of that in the trailer. Action is quick cuts and you get an idea of what it's going to be like and to show how technically strong we are. The way a trailer is cut is to tease the audience and not reveal too much. The driving factor for the film will be action, but emotion will majorly help it and it will be an emotional action film.
There's is only one shot where Kamal Haasan has a teardrop in his eyes, there's a lot of talk and curiosity behind that shot. Can you tell us more about the intention of that shot?
Again, because it's a thriller anything revealed will be a problem for the viewers of the film. That was the emotional aspect of the film I was telling you about. The core emotional aspect of the film.
The way the story was told makes it look like a film with elements like rivalry, chase, and revenge. There is a question about who is on which side of the rivalry. Is there anything you can share at this point?
More than revenge and rivalry there is a message for societal impact in the film. Kamal Haasan is a person of great stature. When he voices such a problem it reaches the audience. In that way, there are a lot of layers in Vikram, unlike a regular film.
Coming to the star cast. As far as the south industry, you can't get better. At the same time, it is also a cast that can deliver a very powerful performance. In the trailer, I noticed you have maintained a good balance, without anybody dominating the other and everyone being equal. Did you have pressure on how to make everyone happy and how to convince them from the script stage?
No, I was confident they would be convinced with this story because everybody has equal scope. Above that, Kamal Haasan is acting and producing the film. More than pressure, I use the word responsibility again and again because very carefully and consciously it has to be done. As you said, the three of them are powerhouse performers. So, there is no point in giving one person more to do than the other.
Though it is a fanboy film, the film should win. That was done very carefully and consciously. What you see in the trailer in terms of segregation of space, similarly the film has the three of them with equal space and contribution to share in terms of performance.
You've spoken about your love for Kamal Haasan in many interviews and have even said that he is the reason you entered cinema but what was the first hard-hitting moment when you realized you are a very big fan of him?
I think for all his movies it is like that, I get emotional too. When he suddenly doesn't do a film for long and all my other friends are celebrating the release of other stars I'd feel bad. That's when Vishwaroopam was released. It was very emotional for me. It didn't even release here so, I went to Kerala, and then the theatre over there wasn't nice so I came out, and then I had to go all the way to Bangalore. During the Vishwaroopam transformation fight scenes, I almost fainted because of the way I screamed. We'd traveled all the way to Bangalore in the car overnight and went straight to the show without even eating.