It's surprising that an actor from a family of actors like Vikram Prabhu, who looks like a million bucks, would opt to debut in a role in a film like 'Kumki' that requires him to have a makeover as a mahout. But, the young actor of the Sivaji family says he found his calling when he saw filmmaker Prabhu Solomon looking for actors for a film that deals with elephants.
Says Vikram, "I have weird connection with elephants. I'm an ardent lover of Lord Ganesha and, after all, my grandfather's name is Ganesan. He used to buy elephants and donate them to temples. One such an elephant was in the Tanjore big temple and would be brought to us whenever we visited Surakottai (his native town not far from the temple). I have seen it from close and spent time with it. Even in Chennai, when mahouts visit our streets with elephants, we usually let them in our compound. It is a blessing to work with an elephant in my first film."
The actor has also done a lot of homework to play his part. Once Solomon fixed Vikram for the role of Bomman in 'Kumki', the latter says he started changing himself to be a mahout. "I went to Kerala to train with the elephant I was going to work with. Of course, I was a little scared initially. But it took only two days to tame the beast. I learnt a few Malayalam words to direct the elephant and it soon started listening to me like my pet," says the actor.
Once Solomon fixed Vikram for a role in 'Kumki', Vikram started changing his mannerism to be a mahout.
"During shoot, the tusker’s mahout would leave me with the elephant, because he knew it listened to me. I enjoyed spending time with the elephant though I struggled initially to get onto it while it was moving," says Vikram.
Quiz him about why he sounds different from his strong voice in the film's trailer, and he says, "My voice will be a little nasal in the film to sound like a mahout. They usually don't stay in a particular place and their job is taking care of the huge animal 24X7. So they usually look skinny, sound weak and do not have any specific slang," details Vikram.
The actor says he viewed his performance onscreen only while he was dubbing for the film. "Prabhu Solomon asked me not to see the monitor during shoot. So when I first saw myself on screen, I couldn't believe my eyes. It was only when the trailer was screened at the audio launch, that I could really see myself on screen," he says.
The young actor says his plunge into acting was no sudden step. He has, in fact, studied Theatre Arts in San Diego University and has worked in films 'Sarvam' and 'Asal'.
"I did that to learn about how things work here, because you don't want to make a fool of yourself. That's what actor Karthi did and it really helped me gain experience," he says.
Speaking about his wife Lakshmi, the actor says she is very supportive and understands him well.