Vishnu Vishal interview: ‘I am not arrogant, but I won’t act in average films' - Hindustan Times

Lal Salaam actor Vishnu Vishal interview: ‘I am not arrogant, but I won’t act in average films'

Feb 08, 2024 06:36 AM IST

In an exclusive chat with Hindustan Times, Vishnu Vishal talks about working with Rajinikanth in Lal Salaam, the kind of roles he'd like to play, and more.

He had two good films in 2023, FIR and Gatta Kusthi, both of which he also produced. Now, Vishnu Vishal will be seen in director Aishwarya Rajinikanth’s upcoming film, Lal Salaam. The Ratsasan star feels his career graph is only soaring and is candid about what he’s looking for in the future. With Lal Salaam releasing on February 9, Vishnu Vishal is just as excited as the audience and believes this story deserves to be told. In a candid chat with Hindustan Times, he opens up about the movie, his career, the controversy with Soori and more. (Also Read: Aishwarya Rajinikanth interview: ‘Working with Appa in Lal Salaam was a masterclass’)

Vishnu Vishal says he's choosy about his roles(Instagram)
Vishnu Vishal says he's choosy about his roles(Instagram)

Did you sign on Lal Salaam as soon as you heard Superstar Rajinikanth was in it?

You have seen the kind of movies I have been working on. Do you think I’d have signed on without listening to the script? (Smiles) Aishwarya Rajinikanth approached me for the film, and I heard her brief, but I took my time to decide. I then requested her to narrate the entire script, and she was very sweet – she gave me a five-hour narration. Then I said yes. When Rajini sir had said yes to Lal Salaam, I knew there must have been a compelling reason for him, and I wanted to discover that same reason, so I asked her for a full narration. Now, people may think I am being egoistic or arrogant to ask for a full narration from a director before I decide to do a film. The truth is I want to work in good cinema and sign winning scripts, which is why I have worked with so many newer directors in my career. I ask a lot of questions about the story, characters, etc., and not every director will be okay with that.

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Have you lost out on big films because of this?

Well, I don’t want to do character roles. I want to play the hero, and that’s what I have been working hard towards all these years. Why do I listen to extensive script narrations and even produce my own films? I am clear on this. I have been approached for films with big stars to play some characters like the second lead, brother, etc. I have said no. Do you know that only 28% of my films have not fared well? 72% of my films have done well at the box office. This is not a small achievement, and I want to ensure that this percentage gets better – the audience should like the film, and everyone involved, like the producer, distributor and me, should also make money. Business is also essential for the film. 80% of films made don’t do well at the box office. I don’t want to work in or make an average film – I want to make and act in a good movie!

Apparently, you said Lal Salaam is not a turning point in your career

That’s been misunderstood. Firstly, I never imagined I would get an opportunity to work with Rajini sir, and this is a dream come true for an ardent fanboy like me. Secondly, I said that I am working hard on every film, and every film I work on is taking me towards the goal of being a better actor and bigger achiever. In Gatta Kusthi, for instance, I was the hero of the film and everything I did in that film – acting, dancing, fighting and even producing it – contributed towards the success of that film. Gatta Kusthi’s success was my success. In Lal Salaam, I am not the film's hero – Superstar Rajinikanth is key, and I play a character who is essential to the story. And I must add that Rajini sir’s fans' expectations have been fulfilled in this film. Lal Salaam will also make Aishwarya Rajinikanth a director to reckon with – she has made a good film. I was really happy when I saw it.

What was it like working with director Aishwarya Rajinikanth?

I didn’t know her much before I signed on to the film. My impression then was that she was reserved and might be stubborn and not listen to my input or ideas. But this wasn’t true, and my opinion of her wholly changed while working on the film. She is very sweet but also knows what she wants from her actors and is willing to collaborate. We have become good friends now.

You and co-star Vikranth play cricket together

Yes, we have been playing cricket together (Celebrity Cricket League) for a while now and are friends, but this is the first time we are working together in a film. Vikranth has done an excellent job in Lal Salaam, and I’m really happy for him. He has a lot of scenes with Rajini sir and it’s easy to forget your lines or get distracted when you’re working with Superstar but he has done well.

The biggest thing you learnt from Superstar

Dedication. That’s something that had me in awe. Rajini sir was so involved in the scenes and kept thinking about how to improve them. And he would never leave the sets unless work was complete. He’ll never say – it’s late, let’s do it tomorrow. He’ll stay back no matter how late, complete the work, and go. That was really amazing.

You and Soori had an issue but it looks like you both have patched up

Yes, we have. I told him we could either continue being at loggerheads and drag this on or patch up and move on. We both met and spoke and then realized the entire issue was instigated by a third person. I am thankful to a common friend who told us to meet and sort it out. Things get cleared only when people speak to each other directly rather than going through others. We are friends again and I am glad this is sorted out.

Do you think people in the film industry can be friends?

Trust is the most important aspect of any relationship, and this entire industry also works on trust. I think everyone in the industry is selfish – for instance, if a producer signs an actor, it’s because of the actor’s market and only after that the actor and producer become friends or get to know each other. So, there’s always a reason behind everything. But we need to trust each other to work together, and that’s important. I’d have made 5% friends in the industry, and true friendship in that would probably be 1%.

Thalapathy Vijay has joined politics. What about you?

No, never! I have seen my friend, Udhayanidhi Stalin, and had the privilege of seeing Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin (Udhayanidhi’s father) working. They are completely dedicated to public life and I think that’s commendable and really tough also. Moreover, I have no knowledge of politics and since I have no knowledge of the subject, I don’t want to get involved in it.

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