You feel your heartstrings tug when cricketer-turned-actor Vishnu Vishal says he has stopped watching cricket because it might force him to pursue his dream. “Somewhere, in a corner of my heart, it is still there because I have invested almost 15 years of my life in cricket,” Vishnu says in a candid conversation.
It is common knowledge that Vishnu's entry into cinema came after an injury that ended his cricket career. Fortunately, Vishnu has made peace with the circumstances of his life and the cricketer who still lives in him. That he has picked up the bat whenever he has got the chance – Vishnu famously plays for the Chennai Rhinos team in the Celebrity Cricket League – is testament to this. “I believe it was the cricketer who helped the actor in me grow. If I have been able to survive in cinema for more than 15 years, it is because of everything I learned by playing cricket. For example, cricket teaches you to bounce back from adversity because sometimes you are in a bad situation after scoring two centuries in a row, but suddenly lose your form.
Vishnu Vishal in a scene from 'Lal Salaam' Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
Teamwork, a never-say-die attitude, dealing with criticism and politics are some of the other qualities that Vishnu attributes to cricket. “You also learn how to deal with pressure, because in both cricket and cinema, people will know your successes and failures. You not only have to be successful but also become a public personality.”
He also wonders if he would have been the first choice to play the role of a cricketer in his upcoming political sports drama red salute, Wasn't he a cricketer from the beginning? “This is why I believe that nothing goes waste in life, provided you do it with dedication. This is not limited to cricket; My MBA degree has definitely helped me in administration as a producer.”
ten years after their cricket drama chord, red saluteDirected by Aishwarya Rajinikanth and co-starring Vikrant, it brings together both of Vishnu's passions – cricket and cinema – to deliver a timely social message.
Such films have been seen in Tamil cinema for some time now. Sarpatta Parambarai , which uses sports as a lens to look at the cracks in the social fabric of our times. Just a few weeks ago, we saw blue Star Use cricket as a tool to look at racism, and now, red salute It promises to show how fanaticism fills the hearts of players with hatred.
“This is not a trend, but merely a coincidence. Through sports, you can drive home the message in an attractive manner as sports is an engaging activity in itself; This is why sports dramas fill you with excitement. From a storytelling perspective, it helps if you center the game on something and build a story around it,” says Vanilla Kabadi Kuzhu actor.
Vishnu Vishal Photo courtesy: S. Shivraj
However, Vishnu is at such a crucial juncture in his career that a cricket drama film is not enough to unleash the actor in him. There's already a lot riding on his shoulders. The actor has been emphasizing on how he sees this phase after 2022 as the second innings of his film career. It's a phase that not only marks liberation for Vishnu – after all the professional and personal battles he has fought since his release. Ratsasana – but also a slightly different approach to acting; The actor we knew for his lackluster acting that rarely showed some enthusiasm, made a conscious shift to doing relatively high profile roles and larger scale films.
red salute Both are there, but given his history with multi-starrers, this film is a dual-hero project, which won't be easy for Vishnu to sign; His 40-minute portions were cut from his 2021 Tamil-Telugu film, Kadan, “This time, I wanted to be very clear. I didn't want to lose a good story just because it's a multi-starrer so I made sure to prevent whatever went wrong in those previous films from happening again.
However, whatever that was said, it was not the role or the scale or the cricket that compelled him to seal the deal red salute, There is something beyond all this; A factor that makes all these calculations void and a phenomenon that has defined Tamil cinema in the last 50 years. “When they told me that Rajinikanth sir is doing a cameo, red salute Became a fool. Acting with Rajini sir is a dream for many, yes, but acting as a hero under him is something you can't even dream of. “It was a huge opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.”
Vishnu says he was curious to see how Aishwarya would bring in the 'Rajini' elements that fans naturally expect in his films. “I too would have been disappointed if these elements were not present but Aishwarya has done a good job in it. I am confident that this film will also live up to the expectations of Rajini sir's fans.
Rajinikanth in a scene from 'Lal Salaam' Photo Credit: Special Arrangement
Usually for Vishnu, in the days approaching the release of the film, he starts worrying about how the film will perform on the opening day. “Throughout my career, my Fridays were like this – I would get a small start; More people would prefer to go to the afternoon show; Evening shows will have larger crowds and night shows will usually be packed; And then we don't have to worry about Saturday and Sunday. This is ideal for an actor like me.” This time they don't have to worry about the opening day collection. He says, “There is a bigger force that will bring all the audiences – Rajinikanth – so that I can go to bed in peace.”
after red saluteVishnu will start work again Mohandas, a mystery thriller that has been in production for over three years. ,Mohandas This was a film that was made for streaming, but unfortunately, as soon as the film was being made, OTTs stopped buying films and this is not a film that was made for the big screen. So, now, if the film has to hit theatres, we have to have a different cut, so we have to re-edit it,” explains Vishnu.
a film with ram kumar Ratsasana fame and Aryan, a cop film, is next in his line-up. Vishnu concludes by saying, “These next few years will either break me or make me. I am preparing myself for the long term; My approach has changed and I am very clear about what I have to do.”
Lal Salaam will be released in theaters on February 9.