The actor, whose film ‘Sixer’ hit the screens recently, says he will try his luck with ‘serious films’ going forward
Vaibhav Reddy is a very reluctant speaker. But he did not hesitate while making his choice for a living — he wanted to be in films.
“I didn’t think of anything else. I grew up seeing all the mega stars of cinema in my house,” says Vaibhav, whose film Sixer released last week. The son of Telugu director A Kodandarami Reddy, Vaibhav made his Tamil film debut with Venkat Prabhu’s Saroja (2008).
But his association with the director extends to more than 25 years. “In fact, we had a deal (as youngsters). If I became a hero first, I would give him a chance to be director, and if he became a director first, he would give me a chance in his film,” says Vaibhav, adding that it was he, and not actor Jai, who was supposed to play the character of Rockers Ragu in the cult hit Chennai 600028 (2007).
“I was doing a Telugu film at the time. So dates became an issue, and I had grown a beard. We decided we will work later. That’s why I was in Saroja,” he adds. Yet, Vaibhav has struggled to make his own mark in Tamil cinema over the last decade, and he has his reasons. But he hopes the trend will change.
Excerpts from an interview:
Sixer is based on a famous comedy track...
It is a commercial film. Yes, the concept of losing one’s sight after 6 pm is part of Goundamani sir’s comedy track but I believe there is a knack to adapting it into a good screenplay for a feature film. Chachi (the film’s director) has done just that.
Your comic timing is good. Why don’t you position yourself as an actor in that mould?
It is something people in the industry already know about me. Comedy isn’t easy but they tell me that I do it casually. But I don’t want to push myself in that band because I want to prove my all-round acting skills. It is one of the reasons why I’m taking up serious projects now.
Serious projects like...?
... like I’m doing a cop film Kallam Karka produced by actor Nithin Sathya. It is a thriller in the Ratsasan mould. There are other projects too. I will start filming on a Stone Bench (Karthik Subbaraj’s production house) project in October. There is another film for Passion Studios (makers of Vijay Sethupathi’s Seethakathi). Besides, I have films like RK Nagar, Kaateri, Taana in the pipeline awaiting release.
Why hasn’t Vaibhav caught that big break yet? Many thought Meyaadha Maan could change your fortunes...
Meyaadha Maan did help a few people. Priya Bhavani Shankar (the film’s female lead) is now doing Indian 2. I think I have faced the same kind of struggles that every lead actor goes through. Sometimes, films don’t work out... some directors don’t want to make films with me. Even heroines have backed out of my movies... but I don’t blame them. Top heroines only want to work with next level stars... like Ajith or Vijay... or Sivakarthikeyan. They are not wrong to think that. I guess it is just a phase in my career.
Given the situation, does it help that you are only doing small films? Considering the short shelf life, and the limited number of screens afforded to such films...
My films all have a ₹4-5 crore budget. But really, there is no risk for producers of small films because other businesses have opened up. There are satellite and digital streaming rights. There is also the overseas and Hindi dubbing rights now. Whatever earnings they get from theatrical exhibition is just a plus.
So, as an actor, I’m not at a disadvantage doing such films. I can experiment a lot with content, and I can work with new directors, who I find often come up with fresh ideas or give a fresh spin to older concepts.
Since you mentioned digital... we hear you may be making your web series debut soon...
Yes, there is a bit of a date issue now. But it will be sorted. It is for Hotstar, and will be directed by Venkat Prabhu. Kajal Aggarwal is also part of the cast.
How important has the friendship with Venkat Prabhu been for you?
I would say... that only my friends have helped me grow in films. Thankfully, for me, around the time I debuted, Venkat Prabhu also turned director. So, my time has been good (laughs).