He is a southern superstar. As Vikram steps into Bollywood at the age of 44 with ‘Raavan’, he is acutely aware of going where perhaps no Indian actor has gone before – playing the hero in the Hindi version and the villain in the Tamil edition.
He admits to being initially scared to be part of the Hindi version of director Mani Ratnam’s ‘Raavan’ but says his co-star Aishwarya Rai’s brilliant performance in the Tamil venture boosted his confidence.
"Initially, I was very scared because I had this mental block. What kept me going was that Ash didn’t know Tamil and she was doing so well," Vikram said.
"Had I been only doing the Hindi version, I would have been really worried. But it is also in Tamil and everyone made me feel quite comfortable," he added.
Vikram is perhaps the first actor who is doing a film in two different languages and playing two different characters in them. In the Hindi version he will be seen in the positive role as Aishwarya’s husband while in Tamil he will play Beera, a negative character being essayed by Abhishek in the Hindi version.
"No one in the world has done the same film in two languages and with a different role. I think that was something that got me hooked," said Vikram.
"For many days I had to shoot simultaneously in both the languages. It was amazing. I would do a sequence then I would go and change the make-up, take out all the dirt and blood, put another design of dirt and blood and do a sequence for the second language. Usually make-up takes an hour, but for this film here I had to get ready in 10 minutes to finish the fight sequences," said Vikram.
Reports say ‘Raavan’ is a modern interpretation of the epic "Ramayana". Commenting on that, Vikram said "every film has taken something from the epic".
"It’s not Ramayana. When you see the film, you may find the main character is like Rama. But the way he (Ratnam) has designed it, the perspective is totally different.
"Whatever film has been made so far, they have something from ‘Ramayana’. So when you will see the film, you might find parallels. I think it’s very contemporary. He (Ratnam) just wanted to experiment," said Vikram.
Vikram said he had been wanting to work with Ratnam for a long time.
"We had been planning to work together for the last couple of years, but it didn’t happen. The dates didn’t match, scripts didn’t work out. Finally, for this he called me," he said.
Asked whether he would cast a spell on Bollywood, he said: "I guess forgetting everything and coming here (Bollywood) and working would have bothered me. They called me and I really liked the script…
"I, of course, loved the thought that my audience was going to be much larger. There are lots of people who watch my films. Now those who don’t speak Tamil even they will watch my films. That’s something that excites me."
A co-production of Madras Talkies and Reliance Big Pictures, ‘Raavan’ is scheduled for a June 18 release.(IANS)