Tamil superstar Vikram, who makes his debut in Hindi films with Mani Ratnam‘s Raavan, is a traumatized man.
While in the Hindi version of Raavan he plays Aishwarya Rai‘s cop-husband Dev, in the Tamil version he plays the brutal outlaw Veera. With both the versions being shot simultaneously, Vikram was constantly running in and out of the two completely different characters, makeup and languages, sometimes within half an hour.
Says a source, “It got really taxing for him. While Aishwarya Rai Bachchan played the same character in two languages, Vikram had to go from Raavan in Tamil to Rama in Hindi after every shot. At one point he almost lost the plot.”
One day the film’s dress designer Sabyasachi Chakraborty had dropped in on location to discuss Vikram’s look and clothes. Vikram was informed by Mani Ratnam’s assistant that he needed to sit with Sabyasachi to discuss his look with him for the film.
When the two of them met both began to give their viewpoints to each other about how the character played by Vikram would dress up in the film.
Says Vikram, “Within half an hour discussing the character’s look, we both realised that something was terribly wrong. I wanted my looks to be simple and minimalist so that I didn’t have to change much from the way I am. I suggested to Sabyasachi to keep my skin- tone black. On the other hand, Sabyasachi was keen on a suave and clean look. And was very was confused as to why was I was giving such a strange brief.” Sabysachi felt Vikram’s look couldn’t be dark, and told Vikram that if he was so keen on a dark look then maybe he could try and do something dark but formal.
Laughs Vikram. “I suggested a dhoti. Sabyasachi got really worked up and told me it was no longer funny and asked me him if I was really sure about my character Dev dressing like a rugged rustic character. That’s when both of us realised the confusion. I was talking about the looks of Veera (the outlaw character) my character in the Tamil version and Sabyasachi was talking about Dev (the cop) the character I’m playing in the Hindi version.”
Explains Vikram, “In the Hindi version it’s Abhishek Bachchan who is the outlaw character. And the fact that I’m playing two opposite characters in the two versions had caused the confusion.”
Though exhausted by the effort Vikram thoroughly enjoyed the unprecedented challenge of playing two characters at the same time in two languages.
Vikram, one of the foremost Tamil actors, will dub his own lines for the Hindi version of Raavan.