How Vikram transforms into the characters that he plays

14 January 2015

After a settlement was reached on the stay of its release, the Tamil film I, directed by Shankar and starring Vikram, releases today. Vikram plays two characters in the film, a body-builder named Lingesan, who idolizes Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a disfigured hunchback named Koonan. In our December 2013 issue, Baradwaj Rangan profiled the Tamil superstar in ‘Man of Steel,’ and in this extract from that article, Vikram tells Rangan about the work he puts into the characters he plays.

The first time I met Vikram, at his home near Elliot’s Beach in Chennai, on a very hot evening in early May, he was wolfing down dinner—steamed vegetables in a shallow plastic container—using a pair of chopsticks.

He appeared surprisingly small—but then heroes who usually stare out of 70-mm screens can seem so when you see them in person. The shaved head and the alarming weight loss he’d recently undergone added to the impression. This is one of his looks for the hotly anticipated mega-production, Ai [now I], from Tamil cinema's biggest blockbuster director Shankar. Shailaja told me later, "These past ten months, Vikram has been eating like a hermit."

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    Baradwaj Rangan  is a National Award-winning Film Critic and Deputy Editor with The Hindu. His book, Conversations with Mani Ratnam, was published by Penguin in 2012.