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    Interview with Chellamae Vishal

    Monday, September 20, 2004
    Meet the latest TDH of Kollywood. Tall, dark and handsome Vishal was floored by the adulation from his first collection of female admirers - shape of things to come. That was when he made a beeline to the select theatres to gauge the response to ‘Chellame.’

    The chemistry between Vishal and Reema Sen was the clinching factor. A greenhorn holding his own hemmed in by the big guns like Vivek and Reema was more than a visual delight. Even the heavens opened up to shower its blessings on the latest entrant.
    The Visual Communication course from Loyola College gave Vishal an insight into the world of advertising, film-making and above all the confidence to feel 10 feet tall and meet the demand. Vishal’s initial dream and destination was to become a director. A call from Ram Gopal Varma beckoned him to be his deputy. All set to pack off his bags, parental opposition put a spoke and put on hold his aspirations. Settling for the next best thing, Vishal became assistant to ‘Gentleman’ Arjun in ‘Vedam’ and ‘Ezhumalai.’ A decision which changed his career-graph. Convinced that Vishal was a hero material, Arjun asked him to be ready with a portfolio.
    Like the proverbial saying of fruits slipping into the milk, producer Gnanavel dropped in to meet Arjun and ran into Vishal. His search for a fresh face ended then and there. Not long after,Vishal was facing the camera - it did not take long for director Gandhi Krishna to smell that the jewel at hand was of the 24-carat range. Vishal felt happy that all his homework had paid handsome dividends.
    Joining the ‘Koothupattarai,’ an institution famous for stage plays, helped him to get into the skin of the character. Honing the martial arts skills and getting his steps right from dance master Jayanthi meant he was mentally strong before the take-off. Testing time was ahead of Vishal, with the script demanding a few intimate scenes. He had the ‘Brave Heart’ to have the get-up of Mel Gibson in a duet sequence.
    ‘Reema taught me what professionalism is all about. Vivek harped on the importance of being the character Raghunandan. Slowly I had slipped into the role without being aware of it.’ It was a dream debut to have come under the visual of cinematographer K V Anand - who had given new meanings to the career launch of Aishwarya Rai, Surya, Simran, Abbas and Jyothika.
    Add to the cream of stars - Reema Sen, Harris Jayaraj and Gandhi Krishna - Vishal is convinced that his star must have been in the right place to find a slot in the company of such worthies. It boiled down to nerves when Vishal had to hold Reema on the left hand while clawing his way to safety in the climax, shot at Bay of Bengal. Diving head on with no clue of the depth inside was the other scary factor. But then, it’s all over now and time to savour the happening , frame by frame and inch by inch.
    What next then for the soft-spoken youngster with a smile which should take him miles. Committed to do the next film under the same banner is his way of reciprocating the gratitude. Shutting the temptation door, Vishal is clear in his stance that it will be one film at a time. Consolidating the early gain is his priority - breaking into the big league is not on the immediate agenda.
    Sure sign that his feet is well planted on the ground.


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