Age seems to have pushed the pause button in Ilayathalapathy Vijay who looks fresh out of college in his casual jean and tees. Calm and composed, the soft spoken Vijay spoke at length with Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar, Inian and Sindhu Vijayakumar in an exclusive conversation on various subjects ranging from Thuppakki to his children to the films that he missed doing.

It’s the first time you are working with Murugadoss. How was the experience?

I like all of Murugadoss’s films and have seen them all. And I like his Dheena the best. I have asked jocularly why he did not consider me for Dheena. He takes on a commercial subject and does his screen play very well. He has done the same thing in Thupaakki too. When he was narrating the story, there was absolutely no cut and no distraction. Right from the day one, we struck a good comfort level. He takes the best from artists in a beautiful way. I believe that Thuppakki will turn out to be one of my best.

"I liked Dheena the most ..."

What kind of character are you playing in Thuppakki?

As everybody knows, I play an army man but the army background will be minimal in the film. Thuppakki will have the events that happen during the holiday period of an army man. Although army is the background, my character will be a jovial one.

Have you done something new in Thuppakki?

Murugadoss’ screen play will be new. Generally there will be content in my films but I tend to miss out in the presentation because I used to think that content alone is important. However I have realized that content along with the presentation is also equally important. Added to that Santosh Sivan joining us is something unexpected and it is a big plus for the film.

Murugadoss’s screen play will be new

Kajal Aggarwal

It was good working with Kajal Aggarwal. In Thuppakki, heroine’s character is not an ordinary one that just appears like a show piece. She has lots of dialogues and the surprising factor is she learnt her dialogues and spoke in Tamil instead of speaking in Hindi which some artists do especially for long shots which will later be corrected at dubbing levels.  That was a good thing and a good effort from Kajal.

Speaking in Hindi in Thuppakki

Yes, the character is that of a Tamilian living in Mumbai. We took the help of an assistant director who knows Tamil and Hindi, made him speak the specific slang of Hindi that is being spoken in Mumbai and learnt.

You have a fan base that encompasses all age and class. How do you feel about it?

This is certainly a gift which I never expected. My expectation levels when I entered cinema were very low. Beyond that, the directors that I have worked with have been giving me good breaks periodically in my career. I am very happy and touched when I realize that I have been liked by all kinds of audience.

How was your singing experience in Thuppakki?

Yeah, that was an interesting one. It was one of the days when we were shooting. Harris Jeyaraj called me to his studios for half an hour. I thought he was going to show me a tune that he had composed. But Murugadoss and Harris wanted me to sing a song. I was a little apprehensive and told them that I would definitely give it a try but have not sung in six years. I went ahead with the thought that if it is not good enough, they can always have an alternative. But they really encouraged me and I sung twice once in Chennai studios and the second time in Mumbai studio. It is an easy tune and anybody can sing it.

Harris said that you sang like a professional singer and that you corrected Andrea’s singing…

That shows Harris Jeyaraj’s magnanimity. I know the tensions that I had… (laughs)

You have helped the producer from financial issues. How did this happen?

Financial issues are common in this field and tight situations for producers are likely to happen which is a normal occurrence. Date issues were involved; it was about Kajal Aggarwal’s dates and Santosh Sivan’s dates. If we miss these dates, it would have been difficult later to assemble everybody and bring to the sets. Why should we miss their dates for money issues? It is a very small issue and I helped the producer. That’s all.

You have helped other projects too

Yes, tricky situations come in all projects and I think of every film as my project and try to help people out.

How was the experience of working with your mom in Jos Alukkas ad?

The agency approached and asked if my mom would feature in the ad as it is about mom-son concept. My mom initially hesitated but later agreed. I also liked it and it touched my heart. I think it is the mom and son concept that had struck the right notes. I am not sure if it would have received similar response had it been for some other relationship. Later I came to know that my mom had thanked the agency people for giving an opportunity for her son to lie in her lap for almost 2-3 hours after a very long time. It was a good experience.

Your next film with A L Vijay

We are commencing the project this month end. Title is not yet fixed. Heroine is Amala Paul.

You are a good dancer. How do you keep yourself updated on the latest dancing styles?

When I see something new, I make a note of it and suggest the steps to the choreographer of a film that I work. More than me, they are up to date on these skills and are well versed in it. In fact I am slow in this. We discuss these things in advance and adapt to our song and style. We have tried something like that in google google song too, some sophisticated movements.

Google google is an easy tune and anybody can sing

How are your children? What is happening on that front?

They are good. Son is in 7th grade and daughter in 2nd. Times with them are interesting. They discuss a lot of new things every day. There will be a big change in them whenever I get back after a month of shooting. They discuss something new which would be very surprising to me. Lots of fights also happen at home which are interesting to watch.

Have you felt that your actual potential has not been tapped till now?

Yes, as you say, I am able to bring my potential out, perhaps once in every 4 or 5 films. I do agree that it does not happen in every film. I saw myself in a different vein in Nanban. Directors like Shankar use me that way. Therefore if I get a director who would exploit my potential, then I can bring about different facets of performance. Directors are the ones who should extract that quality from us.

I saw myself in a different vein in Nanban

Do you have such director(s) in mind that you want to work with?

Yes, I had such a wishlist till I did Nanban. I want to do one more film in Shankar’s style. Nanban is neither Shankar’s style nor mine. We tried something new in it. Shankar has a specific style and I want to work in a film that would have his style. I have also conveyed my wish to him and he has answered in affirmative. Let’s see!Same thing holds good for Murugadoss too. I am not saying this because I worked with him. As someone who likes his work, I have always wanted to work with him. We have met and talked too but somehow our dates were not favorable, either he was busy or I was mid way in a film. After Thuppakki, I want to work with Murugadoss regularly.

I want to work with Murugadoss regularly

How do you handle tough times when sometimes you are targeted unnecessarily or when there is a not so good patch in your professional life?

I take things very cool! I have faced a lot of ups and downs in my life but nothing would reach me. Not that I have learnt to deal with such situations, I think I have grown up like that to take things in a cool manner. OK, something has happened and let me see how the situation can be overcome and deal with as much positivity as I can. That’s how we sorted out issues during a film’s release.

Ameer had said he wanted to work with you. Would you work with him?

Yes, I also want to work with him. We are yet to discuss about it in detail.

From Naalaya Theerppu Vijay to Thuppakki Vijay, what are the transformations?

A lot... (laughs) It is a travel of 18 years. Vikraman sir was the first one to bring in a change. Of course, my dad made me a commercial hero. But Vikraman sir gave a new color to my performance in Poove Unakkaga and then Fazil sir. Once in every 3-4 years, directors have moulded me and have brought me in this shape. They are the ones responsible for this. I could not have done this alone.

Is it your conscious decision to choose different genres or it just happened?

You can say both. In between I kind of let it go easy and my career was proceeding in a mass hero format and then I got bored of the monotony. Then I took a conscious decision and did Kaavalan, Velayudham and Nanban. It was just a happenstance that I worked with established directors.

You have a responsible elder brother (anna) image. How do you feel about being called ‘anna’?

It is a good thing. The relationship of Anna-elder brother-is immortal. Loverboy (image) constantly changes but not anna.

You entered the field when you were 18. But we don’t have heroes in such age groups. What is your take on this?

I think Simbu and Dhanush started quite early. I see the current crop of actors as very talented. They are excelling in all fields.

A recent Tamil film that you liked

Pizza, it was really scary!

Good small films are emerging successful these days. Do you see a change in the audience’s tastes?

If you narrate a story in a proper, interesting manner, it is bound to be successful. This has been time tested.

What about Yohan Adhyayam Ondru?

I was to work with Gautham Menon in Yohan after Thuppakki and that’s how we planned. That has not happened but we will definitely work when our dates are conducive. That’s for sure.

Will you venture into direction?

No, earlier I was thinking on those lines but now I have changed my idea. Direction is a job full of tension. It will not work for me.

Your niece Sneha Britto’s direction foray?

Yeah, one fine day she told that she wants to direct and it was shocking to me. It is an interest nurtured in her. I wished her all the best. Everyone has a good word about her in the sets. I am happy.

Are there any films that you have missed doing?

Lots! Dhool is one such film. The story that Dharani narrated to me was something and the story that he filmed was something else. When I asked him about this, he said that the story initially was different and developed into something else. I really like Dhool. After I saw the film I really felt that I have missed doing it.

I really like Dhool

You are away from you family for long times. How do you make up for the lost time?

During holidays or weekends, I ask them to join me if I am shooting outside. But they will not join me if I am shooting in Pollachi or Karaikudi. They would come only if it is Hyderabad or Bangalore or Mumbai.

How do you relax?

Family, friends and kids. We watch a lot of films together.


Yeah I do my regular work outs. I am not the type who will be at the gym 24 hours. I will do the basic essential work outs to keep myself fit.

When are you going to be active in social networking sites?

I do want but somehow it does not seem to happen. In fact I tried once but left it just like that. I need to try and be active. But it is a good thing. To make good things reach a wider audience, social networking sites are helpful.

Have you ever repented why you ever chose this industry?

NO, never. This is the line that I chose myself and came into this after a lot of arguments. I have never felt that way.

When a film that you really worked hard fails, how do you feel?

I definitely feel bad. Not only me, but an entire team works for it. But I will see where I have gone wrong and try to not repeat such mistakes in future.  Everything is a lesson.

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