When we tell Vidyut Jammwal that we couldn’t take our eyes off a particular scene in the recently released Anjaan trailer – the one that has both Suriya and him strutting along in a single frame – he’s tickled. You can’t possibly have eyes for both of us, he smirks knowingly. And when we finally admit that we were indeed looking at him, he is satisfied. “There, that’s what I wanted to hear,” he chuckles. “We are such narcissists, no?”
Vidyut Jammwal is a martial artiste, first. He not only knows how to take a hit; but at the same time, how to get back up on his feet as well. Instantly. It’s a skill that has helped nurture the actor in him. Something he readily acknowledges. It has made him pragmatic as well. Hard-headed. He is not easily swayed by the fluctuating fortunes of the film industry. His job is quite volatile, and he knows it. So, that’s precisely why, Jammwal doesn’t believe in planning ahead. He is perfectly happy with the current pace. The way things are moving now. Movies chose me, he shrugs, not the other way round. “So, if you ask me what I would be working on next, I wouldn’t know.”
[quote align=’left’]“Ajith can cook,” Jammwal laughs, “he would just walk into the hotel kitchen and whip up delicious pastas. I really think a man who cooks is a complete man.”[/quote]Attribute it to his rigorous martial arts training, or quite simply, to his nature, but Jammwal is also extremely malleable as actor. When he moved from Jammu to Mumbai, he remembers taking little time to settle down. “I adjusted quickly. It was rather easy,” he declares, “besides, I think our human mind and body are trained for that.” And of course, he never felt “strange” while in Chennai shooting for Billa 2.
No big deal, yaar, he shrugs.
[quote align=’left’]“I have enjoyed watching Vijay fight. I like his dancing also. He has got this suppleness in his body.”[/quote]When Lingusamy offered Anjaan to Jammwal last year, he agreed without a second thought. He’d always wanted to work with the director of Paiyya, a film that he watched in Mumbai even before Billa 2 beckoned. “I wanted to produce a road movie in Hindi, and was impressed by the narrative and thrills.” He is quite reluctant to furnish details about his role in Anjaan, except to declare that he “doesn’t play a bad guy”. About his co-star Suriya, though, Jammwal is quite eloquent. They “hit it off from day one”. It was just like any other meeting, he says, informal and laidback. “I loved him in Khaakha Khaaka, but after working with him, I like him even more.”
Billa 2 is perhaps the better story. The producer, who is also a good friend of Jammwal, narrated the introduction scene which seemed to call out to him. “They thought only I would be able to carry that off,” he laughs, and instantly adds in an apologetic tone, “I know I sound pompous, but they wanted a glossy, rich, good looking actor to play the character.” Billa 2 also remains a warm memory for him. While he recalls an instance when the team had to shoot the opening action sequence all over again, thanks to a thick drizzle of snow, Jammwal’s other happy memory is the “lifelong friend” that he found in Ajith. “I never felt like I was meeting a superstar,” he reminisces, “we were the only Indians in Georgia and began chatting up.” He also attributes his newly discovered love for cooking, to Ajith. “The man can cook,” Jammwal laughs, “he would just walk into the hotel kitchen and whip up delicious pastas. I really think a man who cooks is a complete man.”
The actor also warmed up to the famously reclusive Vijay on the sets of Thuppakki. Vijay has an amazing sense of humour, he says, and recalls some witty one-liners that he had heard from him. That’s his other side, Jammwal reveals.
Vidyut Jammwal is also a “director’s actor”. He doesn’t think his debut as a villain in Force put him in a tight spot. “Not only did it get me a string of awards, it also gave me fantastic offers down South. I learnt a lot in that film.” He has always played the inscrutable, menacing villain to the hilt, be it the Russian don in Billa 2 or the Kashmiri terrorist leader in Thuppakki. He claims it comes easily to him. “Everyone has a bad streak in them,” he chuckles, “it’s just strategically hidden. I have one too.” Also, a villain’s role has much scope for originality than that of the hero, he observes. “All the directors I have worked with wanted a never-seen-before villain. They wanted variations in looks and body language.”
[quote align=’left’]”In the South, every actor is treated like Sachin Tendulkar. That’s the primary difference between the two industries. The audience.” [/quote]Jammwal can do every type of action there is. “Action romance, action comedy, action emotion,” he grins slyly, “people talk about action, but I do it. It is my forte.” Though the actor believes in spontaneity with action sequences, he admits he likes to be prepared all the same. Martial arts is the reason why he is one of the most sought after action heroes in the country. He practices it every day, and even has an exclusive stunt team for his movies. They work well for him and he sits with them to design the stunts. “They are trained to take a punch and it looks more real,” he tells us. So even if a director approaches him with an out-and-out romantic film, he takes heart in the fact that at least one stunt scene would be incorporated for him. “There will be a villain, and a real man will fight for his girl, right?” he grins.
He’s also quite fastidious about how action should be performed on-screen. “I am trained in it,” he shrugs, “so it better be good if it needs to impress me. I’m a big fan of Jackie Chan and Sylvester Stallone.” What about Indian actors, we prod him. He thinks hard. “Vijay,” comes the reply after a long pause. “I have enjoyed watching him fight. I like his dancing also. He has got this suppleness in his body.”
[quote align=’left’]“Everyone has a bad streak in them,” he chuckles, “it’s just strategically hidden. I have one too.”[/quote]In the South, every actor is treated like Sachin Tendulkar, Jammwal observes. “That’s the primary difference between the two industries. The audience. They also have a greater understanding of cinema, even the technical aspects of it.” And, he got to sample their idol worship during the Anjaan audio launch that happened in Chennai recently. “It’s inspiring to be loved like that,” he gushes happily. Jammwal also doesn’t think he is “competition” to any hero. He would rather work in harmony with his co-stars as it creates positive energy on the sets, and aids performance. So, he finds it really weird he’s called the “hero’s lucky mascot”. Cinema is all about team-work, he says, “I am an athlete and I know that one good run can’t make you big. You keep working harder.”
Otherwise, Jammwal just wants to do a variety of films, and enjoy the process of “challenging the actor in him”. Owning a Lamborghini doesn’t figure on his wish list, he would rather be a martial artiste as he knows “a punch or a kick is not to knock the hell out of the guy in front, but to knock the hell out of your ego and your fear.”
With that attitude, you automatically end up being the good guy, he smiles in farewell.
Also see: The Vidyut Jammwal photo gallery
The Vidyut Jammwal interview is a Silverscreen exclusive.