Vikram (actor)

Vikram (actor)

Vikram during the premiere of Raavan in London (2010)
Born Vikram Kennedy Vinod Raj
April 17, 1966 (1966-04-17) (age 45)
Madras, Tamil Nadu, India
Other names Chiyaan
Occupation Film actor, playback singer, voice actor
Years active 1990–present
Spouse Shailaja Balakrishnan

Vikram (Tamil: விக்ரம்; born as Vikram Kennedy Vinod Raj on 17 April 1966) is an Indian film actor who has predominantly appeared in Tamil language films. During his years in the Indian film industry, he has won five Filmfare Awards as well as one National Film Award and Tamil Nadu State Film Award amongst other recognitions and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by People's University of Milan in May 2011. Vikram is known for his intense performances, with his work often fetching critical acclaim and commercial success.[1]

He made his debut in the 1990 film En Kadhal Kanmani, which was followed by a series of small-budget Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam films in the 1990s, many of which went unnoticed. However the success of Bala's tragedy film Sethu (1999), in which Vikram appeared as a rogue turned lover, started Vikram's successful career as an actor. In the early 2000s, Vikram appeared in a series of masala films, with Dhill (2001), Gemini (2002), Dhool (2003) and Saamy (2003) becoming commercially successful ventures. During the period, Vikram also appeared in diverse roles and received critical acclaim for his performance as a blind villager in Kasi and a Robin Hood-esque figure in Samurai. In 2003, Vikram's performance as a gravedigger with autism spectrum disorders in Bala's Pithamagan saw him win the National Film Award for Best Actor, with his character only speaking a couple of lines of dialogue in the entire film.[2] His appearance as an innocent Brahmin with multiple personality disorder in Shankar's blockbuster Anniyan (2005) also won critical acclaim, as did his appearance as a superhero in Kanthaswamy (2009). Vikram's portrayal of Veeraiya, a tribal leader inspired by the Ramayana character Ravana, in Mani Ratnam's Raavanan saw him secure further accolades; while his appearance as a mentally challenged adult with the maturity of a six-year-old boy in Deiva Thirumagal (2011), saw the film earn critical acclaim and commercial success.

Vikram has promoted various social causes and appeared as the Youth Envoy for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme in 2011. He has been a brand ambassador of Sanjeevani Trust and a school for special children, Vidya Sudha, which he stayed at during the making of Deiva Thirumagal as well as having long-term associations with the Kasi Eye Care and running his own welfare association through the Vikram Foundation.[3]


Early life

Vikram Vinod Raj was born to a Christian father Vinod Raj and Hindu mother Rajeshwari in Madras, Tamil Nadu on 17 April 1966.[4] He was christened Kennedy as a child.[4] His father, Vinod Raj was a native of Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram and ran away from home to start a career in films. His father however did not fare successfully, and only managed to act in supporting roles in Tamil films and television serials and this inspired Vikram to take part in theatre lessons and become professionally trained in classical and cinema dance forms to ensure he became a leading actor.[5][4] Rajeswari, Vikram's mother, was a sub-collector and her brother, Thyagarajan is an established director-actor in the Tamil film industry; with his son, actor Prashanth, being Vikram's first cousin. Vikram has an elder sister, Anita, who is a teacher and an elder brother, Arvind, who was previously set to make his film debut in the 2008 film Saroja but eventually did not feature.[6]

Vikram was educated at Montfort School, Yercaud, a boarding school in a hill station near Salem and graduated in 1983. He has mentioned since that he used his opportunities at school well and learned karate and swimming out of lessons. Despite expressing his interest to join films after school, his father forced him to go through college with Vikram subsequently graduating in English from Loyola College, Chennai and working half way through an MBA programme.[7] Vikram was knocked down by a truck during a major motorbike accident while in college and suffered a serious leg injury. He remained hospital-ridden bed for three years during college and subsequently went through twenty three surgeries to stop his leg being amputated.[7][8][9]

Film career

Early work: 1990–98

Vikram began his career by modelling in advert films for brands including Chola Tea, TVS Excel and Alwyn watches. During the final year of his M.B.A programme at Loyola College, he was recognised by the film industry, with veteran director C. V. Sridhar approaching him for a lead role in a film.[10] Vikram made his film debut in 1990 by appearing in En Kadhal Kanmani, a small budget love story featuring him alongside Rekha Nambiar, with Sridhar's Thanthu Vitten Ennai opposite Rohini being his next release. He then signed on to be a part of cinematographer P. C. Sriram's college love story, Meera with high expectations, however the three films failed to launch his career.[11] His appearances in Meera and in Kaaval Geetham, with another veteran director S. P. Muthuraman, helped him secure film offers from the Malayalam and Telugu film industries.[10] In 1993, he almost signed on to appear in Mani Ratnam's Bombay and featured in the initial photo shoot alongside Manisha Koirala. However Mani Ratnam wanted Vikram to remove his beard for the role, and Vikram could not do so due to continuity problems with another film he had signed and hence was dropped from the project.[12]

Between 1993 and 1994, Vikram appeared in a series of films where he portrayed supporting roles. He appeared in three successful Malayalam films by appearing with Mammooty, Suresh Gopi and Jayaram in Joshi's successful action film Dhruvam, before teaming up with Gopi again for Shaji Kailas's Mafia, which explored Bangalore's criminal underworld. Furthermore, Joshi cast him again alongside Mammooty in the action drama Sainyam in the role of an air cadet.[13] During the period, Vikram also appeared in the small budget Telugu film Chirunavvula Varamistava in the lead role and as Akkineni Nageswara Rao's eldest son in the family drama Bangaru Kutumbam with both films failing commercially. A brief return to Tamil films also proved unsuccessful, with his role in Vikraman's multistarrer Pudhiya Mannargal with music composed by A. R. Rahman turning out to be a commercial failure.[14]

Throughout 1995 and 1996, Vikram appeared in further Telugu and Malayalam films to receive income, being kept away from Tamil films due to a lack of offers.[11] He continued to play supporting roles in the Malayalam films Street and Vijayakrishnan's Mayoora Nritam and lead roles in the small budget Telugu films Adalla Mazaka and Sriraj Ginne's Akka! Bagunnava?. He collaborated again with Mammooty in Indraprastham and Suresh Gopi in Rajaputhran, before appearing in his first lead role in Malayalam with Itha Oru Snehagatha opposite Laila.[13] Vikram signed Amitabh Bachchan's first Tamil language film production, Ullaasam, which also featured Ajith Kumar and Maheswari. The big budget film created anticipation prior to release but was ultimately panned and fared poorly at the box office.[15] However, Vikram acknowledged the film for expanding his female fan base as a result of the soft-personality of his character.[11] He followed it up with appearances in the unsuccessful films Kurralla Rajyam in Telugu and then in the Ilaiyaraaja musical Kangalin Vaarthaighal, before playing a short role in Parthiban's critically acclaimed film, Housefull.

During his struggling phase, Vikram dubbed for other heroes in films including voices for Prabhu Deva, Ajith Kumar and Abbas for Kaadhalan, Minsara Kanavu, Amaravathi, Kandukondain Kandukondain. Vikram has mentioned that he did not look down on dubbing and saw it as "dignity of labour".[8] During the period he also attended dancing classes every day, and tried acting out different scenes, different characters with his small group of friends.[16] Vikram also rejected approaches from television serial producers, citing that working in television would reduce his chances of becoming a mainstream actor.[17]

Breakthrough: 1999–2001

Vikram as the rogue turned mentally ill patient in Sethu (1999), which became his first commercial success and secured him the Filmfare Special Award – South.

In 1998, debutant director Bala offered him the role of the rogue, Sethu (Chiyaan), in the film Sethu. To prepare for the character, Vikram shaved his head, thinned down to half his size by losing twenty one kilograms and grew nails for the role.[7][16] Furthermore, he did not accept any other offers during this period in order to maintain the continuity of his looks, with the film took two full years for completion. Vikram describes the period of production as "the worst phase of his career" as he was weak economically, and "his fire was in danger of dying down".[16] The film struggled to find a distributor and only after 67 screenings did the film manage to find a buyer, with most refusing the film due to the tragic climax.[18] The film released in December 1999 and initially began running at a single noon show at a suburban theatre but gradually built up audiences through word-of-mouth publicity and ran over one hundred at several cinema halls across Chennai, with Vikram being mobbed by people on the streets as a result of the film's success.[7][11] Critics lapped up Vikram's performance with a reviewer labeling that "Vikram is a revelation" and that "he is very natural and his acting in last few scenes are just too good and could even be compared with the best we have seen".[19] Similarly, a critic from the New Straits Times described the film as an "unforgettable experience" and described Vikram's performance as "praise-worthy".[20] The performance drew accolades with Vikram winning the Filmfare Special Award – South and the Tamil Nadu State Film Award Special Prize for his portrayal of the title character, while reports emerged that he missed out on the National Film Award for Best Actor by a single vote to Mohanlal.[21] Post-success, Vikram has described the film would have been close to him regardless of the commercial success and that it put him on the "right path", with Vikram choosing to adapt the prefix of Chiyaan to his screen name.[16]

Vikram did not sign up to a film for sixty five days after the release of Sethu, to ensure that he made the right career move.[7] Vikram spent time completing projects he had agreed to feature in before the release of Sethu and hence made a couple of appearances in the Malayalam films, Red Indians and the horror film Indriyam.[22] He also played a leading role in Siragugal, a rare Tamil telefilm produced and featuring Radhika Sarathkumar, which was shot entirely in the suburbs of London.[23][24] Furthermore, he also completed two Telugu films during the period; 9 Nelalu and Youth. 9 Nelalu featured Vikram as the husband of the character enacted by Soundarya, who faced the possibilities of being a surrogate mother. The film won positive reviews, with a critic mentioning that Vikram gave a "controlled performance;[25] while Vikram's new found popularity in Tamil films saw the film dubbed into Tamil soon after as Kandane Seethayai, with an inserted comedy track by comedian Vivek.[26] His next release was Rajakumaran's Vinnukum Mannukum, alongside Sarath Kumar, Kushboo and Devayani, which revolved around an ordinary boy falling in love with an actress. Vikram has since mentioned his displeasure at being a part of the film, claiming that he had arguments with the director for every single shot and that "everything in that film, right from the first shot was wrong"; the film became a failure commercially.[27][28]

Vikram signed on to feature in Dharani's Dhill, in which he played an aspiring police officer Kanagavel who tackles a corrupt policeman. To appear trim in the role of the aspiring police officer, Vikram went on a strict diet eating only fruits and drinking juice.[29] The film opened to positive reviews with a critic from The Hindu claiming that "Vikram has the ability and potential" and that "Vikram has once again proved that his success in Sethu was not a fluke".[30] Dhill subsequently went on to become Vikram's first success in the masala film genre and led the way for more such films in the same genre for him.[31] Vikram's portrayal of a blind folk singer in Vinayan's Kasi won him the Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award and the film also did well commercially.[28] For the movie, he sunbathed on the terrace of his beachside home in Chennai for a sunburnt look and got dizzying headaches while practising to look blind.[29] Again, Vikram's performance won positive reviews from critics with a reviewer decribing it as an "extraordinarily detailed performance" and that "as the blind singer, he brings laughter, tears and a lump in one’s throat".[32]

Commercial success: 2002–03

The following year, Vikram went on to play the title role in Saran's Gemini produced by AVM Productions, his first big-budget film, which featured him in the role of a local rowdy.[33] The action film won good reviews, with a critic citing that Vikram "delivers a convincing performance" and consequently became a box office triumph.[28][34] Similarly, the film's soundtrack composed by Bharathwaj had become popular prior to release, with Vikram also singing a version of the hit song "O Podu!" for the album.[35] Balaji Sakthivel's Samurai was his next release featuring him as a vigilante Robin Hood-esque figure who kidnapped corrupt politicians. Vikram had signed the film in early 2000 and the film was on hold during production leading to a two year delay and the film finally opened to average reviews and collections. The critic from The Hindu drew praise for Vikram's "admirably well-maintained physique and powerful eyes", whilst another labelled that the film's single major positive was Vikram's convincing portrayal.[36][37] His final release of the year was Prabhu Solomon's King, a drama film which featured him alongside Sneha and Nassar. Vikram played Raja, a magician, who is unaware that he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis with his family trying to keep the truth away from him. The film also met with an unfavorable response commercially but won positive acclaim from critics.[38]

The success of Dharani's Dhill resulted in the film's team collaborating to make a film in a similar genre, Dhool, which also featured Jyothika, Reemma Sen and Vivek.[31] The film saw Vikram play Aarumugham, a villager, who comes to the city seeking help in regard to a water crisis back home but subsequently ends up tackling the corrupt politicians who are behind the water scam. In regard to his performance, the review praised his enactment citing that "Vikram is at his peak" and that "he seems as much at home with comedy as with action, in romance as in emotional sequences", while the critic from The Hindu also praised his performance.[39][40] The film became a blockbuster and his fifth success in two and a half years with Vikram being dubbed as "the matinee idol of our times" by a leading Indian newspaper.[41] He also featured in the romantic film, Kadhal Sadugudu with Priyanka Trivedi which was a critical and commercial failure, with reviewers claiming that "there are times you wish Vikram were a little more brisk and dynamic" in regard to his performance.[42] Post release, Vikram was critical of the film's failure confessed that the story "underwent a lot of changes after the initial narration", lamenting he was "taken for a royal ride" by the producers.[43]

Vikram was then signed on by K. Balachander to appear in his banner's biggest production til date, Saamy, directed by Hari.[44] Vikram played Aarusaamy, an honest cop working in Tirunelveli who solves the region's communal problems with his down-to-earth approach. Vikram worked on his body for the film, sporting a thick waist to show notable differences from his other police film, Dhill and also put on eight kilograms.[16] The film took a large opening, grossing over Rs. 7 crores in 10 days in Tamil Nadu, while also taking the largest opening of the new millennium in Kerala, with the Telugu remake rights also sold for a record price. Due to the good opening, the film has proved to be profitable just 10 days after its release and consequently went on to become a blockbuster.[45] Vikram's performance also was lapped up by critics earning him a nomination for Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award, with the critic from Sify claiming Vikram had "succumbed to the superstar image trap", but is the "mainstay of the picture".[46]

Critical acclaim: 2003–09

Later that year he starred in Bala's Pithamagan along with Suriya, Sangeetha and Laila, playing the role of Chitthan, a gravedigger with autism spectrum disorders. He did not have any dialogue in the film and the actor’s acting muscles were stretched as he had to use body language and facial expressions to convey his feelings and thoughts, with Vikram also applying the make up for the character himself.[16][29] The film won positive reviews with the critic from The Hindu calling it a "symphony on celluloid", while noting that it will be a "milestone in Vikram's career" and "he carves a niche for himself in the viewer's mind with his expressions and excellent body language".[47] His portrayal won him both the Filmfare Best Tamil Actor Award and the National Film Award for Best Actor, with the latter accolade making him only the third Tamil actor to win the award.[2][7] His next release, the revenge drama Arul directed by Hari, garnered poor reviews and box office collections.[48]

Vikram as Anniyan, a psychotic serial killer, in Shankar's Anniyan (2005), which won him the Filmfare Award for Best Actor - Tamil.

Vikram signed on to feature in the action thriller, Anniyan directed by prominent director Shankar in March 2004.[49] Vikram agreed to shoot for the film for 140 days, which was revealed to be amongst the longest contracts signed by an actor in a Tamil film.[50] The film featured him as a character suffering from dissociative identity disorder with three distinct personae: a meek lawyer, a suave fashion model and a psychotic serial killer. Prior to release, the film was touted as the most expensive South Indian film ever, costing Rs 26.38 crores, and released across India with 400 prints.[51] Anniyan took an "extraordinary opening",[52] went on to become a blockbuster grossing more than Rs.100 crores through the original and two dubbed versions.[53] Vikram's performance was unanimously praised, with a reviewer from Sify citing that "Anniyan truly belongs to Vikram and the film is unthinkable without him" and "it is a role that could have been reduced to a caricature by a lesser actor".[54] The film won 8 out of the 15 awards possible at the 2005 Filmfare Awards South, with Vikram adjudged Best Actor.[55] Later in the year, he signed and completed Shafi's comedy film with Asin, Majaa, in less then five months. The film which also featured Pasupathy as his brother, saw Vikram work as the assistant director under Shafi.[56] Majaa faced a poor response at the box office and fetched average reviews with a reviewer citing that "you will surely find something missing".[57]

Vikram then signed up for Bheema in October 2005, with the film facing severe delays and only releasing in January 2008.[58] The film saw him portray Sekhar, who grows up idolizing the gangster played by Prakash Raj, and Vikram revealed that he approached the film like an actor even though the film's script was written "for a star".[59] Upon release, the film gained mixed reviews though reviewers praised Vikram's performance with a critic claiming that "Vikram breathes life into the film", "he looks sensational with his toned body, killer looks unarguably delivers yet another outstanding performance of his career" and to "see the film only for him".[60] Similarly the review from The Hindu was critical of the excessive violence and mentioned that "as narration gives way after a point, Vikram can only appear helpless".[61] His next release, Kanthaswamy, directed by Susi Ganesan and also featuring Shriya Saran, became the first superhero film in Tamil cinema with Vikram being featured as a vigilante dressed as an anthropomorphic rooster, Kokorako.[62] Kanthaswamy became Vikram's most expensive production beating Anniyan, with the film boasting of high production values of having an innovative pre-launch trailer and with scenes shot in Italy and Mexico.[63][64] The film earned a mixed response from critics with the reviewer from Sify claiming that the film "strikes a fine balance between style and substance" and proceeding to state that "Vikram is mesmerizing and has given an extra dimension to the characters he plays in the film and steers it to the winning post", suggesting that "there are very few people in Indian cinema who can do the larger-than-life fantasy character as easily as Vikram". Sudhish Kamath of The Hindu labelled the film as "slow death", claiming that "as an actor, Vikram has nothing to do". The film took a strong opening with a collection of Rs. 37 crore, including Rs. 16 crore in Tamil Nadu, at the box-office in the opening week of its international release. The film subsequently went on to become one of the most profitable films of the year and ran in theaters for over one hundred days.[65][66]

Raavanan and the future: 2010–present

Vikram then featured in Mani Ratnam's bilingual films Raavanan and Raavan, inspired by the ancient Sanskrit epic Ramayana, with Vikram featuring as the tribal leader, Veeraiya, in the Tamil version and the cop, Dev Pratap Sharma, in the Hindi version of the films which were shot simultaneously.[67] Vikram revealed that changes between the two characters during filming took up to 45 minutes, with Abhishek Bachchan playing the tribal leader in the Hindi version whilst Prithviraj played the cop in the Tamil version, with Aishwarya Rai also in the cast.[8] Vikram was initially apprehensive because both roles were to be shot almost simultaneously but revealed he succeeded by showing differences in his body language and expressions.[68][69] Vikram revealed that he and Abhishek Bachchan played the roles in the respective versions without inspiration from one another. Despite being a non-speaker and making his debut in Hindi, he dubbed his lines in the language remarking jovially it was the "most difficult thing in the world".[70][71] After promotions at the Cannes Film Festival and a premiere at Leicester Square in London, the two versions and the dubbed Telugu version released simultaneously in 2,200 screens worldwide and took a big opening on day one earning 20 crores.[72][73] The Tamil version, Raavanan won rave reviews from critics with The Hindu calling it a "masterstroke" and claiming Vikram "raises the bar higher with every venture". The critic cited that "emotions of love, animus, anguish and joy dance on his face in quick succession", concluding that "Vikram lifts the role to an admirable level".[74] The critic from Sify labelled it as a "astonishing portrayal", while the critic from the Hindustan Times praised Vikram's "ability to get into Veeraiya’s skin and emote with conviction".[75] The Tamil version consequently went on to become a commercial success, with Vikram's performance leading to him winning the Filmfare Award for Best Tamil Actor among other accolades.[76] In contrast, the Hindi version fetched mixed reviews with critics agreeing that Vikram's performance as the tribal leader was more convincing than Bachchan's. Baradwaj Rangan of The New Indian Express rated the film 4/5 and said "Raavan falls for Sita (and vice versa) in an intriguingly idiosyncratic take on the Ramayana - if you can get past the lead performances, that is" [77] whereas Taran Adarsh of Bollywood Hungama rated it 1.5/5 and said, "On the whole, Raavan is a king-sized disappointment, in terms of content" though mentioning that Vikram was "first-rate, although the role isn't substantial enough".[78] Raavan subsequently went on to become a surprise flop at the Indian box office.[79] The film was also screened at the Venice Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival, with Vikram in attendance.[80]

His 2011 release, Deiva Thirumagal directed by A. L. Vijay, saw Vikram portray a father with a developmental disability having the mental maturity of a seven-year-old. To prepare for the role, Vikram visited homes for the mentally challenged such as Vidya Sagar and Vidya Sudha for a month, watching their body language and taking notes.[81] He also communicated with the patients, to pick up the nuances of people with impaired speech. Vikram has since gone on to describe his role as Krishna as the best character he has ever portrayed.[82] The film which also featured Sara Arjun, Anushka Shetty and Amala Paul in supporting roles, opened to predominantly positive reviews from critics and enjoyed commercial success at the box office.[83] The reviewer from The Deccan Chronicle described that the film was "Vikram’s show all the way" and that "his rendition of a mentally-challenged man trying to cope with the everyday realities of raising a child is a work of art", praising his "fiery, complex performance as one of the more viciously honest depictions of mental illness cinema has seen".[84] Similarly another critic described that the on-screen chemistry between Vikram and his daughter, played by Sara Arjun, is "magic" and their performances "are sure to leave a lump in your throat".[85] The critic from The Hindu praised the film and Vikram's performance but analysed that "a problem arises only when you stop looking at Krishna as a character, and begin to see him as Vikram, the hero" and that Vikram should have "underplayed a little here and there and it would have worked better".[86] Vikram is currently filming for Rajapattai alongside Deeksha Seth under the direction of Suseenthiran where he plays a henchman trying to get a break in the Tamil film industry.[87] Furthermore he is simultaneously shooting for a fantasy period film, Karikalan in which he plays Karikala Chola, a Tamil king who ruled in 270 BC, opposite Zarine Khan under the direction of graphics director Kannan.[88] He also agreed terms to feature in director Vijay's next action-thriller, Thaandavam, which also features Anushka Shetty and Amy Jackson.[89]

Other work

Film and television work

Apart from acting, Vikram has also been a part of other film-making processes with credits as a playback singer and as an assistant director. In 2000, Vikram and actress Meena launched a pop album titled Kadhalism, which the pair would sing and appear in music videos for, although the project was completed without much promotion.[90] Following the success of Bharathwaj's music for Vikram's 2002 film Gemini, Vikram sang a version of the hit song "O Podu!" for the extended version of the album.[35] During the making of Kanthaswamy in 2009, the music composer Devi Sri Prasad had asked Vikram to sing a few rough tracks during the film’s song composition in Malaysia. The producers were impressed with his voice and Vikram ended up singing four songs in the film.[91] Furthermore, Vikram also recorded all four tracks in the Telugu version of the album titled Mallana.[92] He then went on to sing for a film he was unrelated to, by lending five different voices in "Meghame" for G. V. Prakash Kumar's album in Madrasapattinam.[93] He sang two further songs under Prakash Kumar for his Deiva Thirumagal, singing in the voice of his character, an adult with the maturity of a six year old.[94] Vikram announced his own production company Reel Life Entertainment in July 2009 and announced that Sasikumar would direct his first film, the action thriller Easan, featuring Samudrakani, Vaibhav, Abhinaya and Aparnaa Bajpai.[95] However after 90% of the shoot had been completed, Vikram pulled out of the venture citing that Sasikumar had overshot his budget and the director eventually bought and released the film.[96] Vikram worked as the assistant director under Shafi in Majaa, and has mentioned he would like to direct a film in the future.[56]

Humanitarian causes

Vikram has promoted various social causes, with several of his charity work being linked to characters he had portrayed in his films. He has been a brand ambassador of Sanjeevani Trust and a school for special children Vidya Sudha, which he stayed at during the making of Deiva Thirumagal.[82] Moreover he has had a long-term association since the making of his film Kasi with the Kasi Eye Care, which does free eye surgeries for the poor.[97] Vikram has also set up The Vikram Foundation through his fan club to provide heart operations for the poor, educate poor children and rehabilitate victims from natural disasters. Every year Vikram has celebrated his birthday doing charity work across Tamil Nadu and in 2008, he organised a camp where a thousand of his fans pledged their eyes in an eye donation appeal.[98]

He has lent his support for the Chennai-based charity, The Banyan, and appeared in the charity musical Netru, Indru, Naalai directed by Mani Ratnam for the cause.[99] The actor also starred in the 2010 "Mile Sur Mera Tumhara" music video on national integration alongside a bevy of Indian actors and musicians, describing the experience as "phenomenal".[100] In 2011, Vikram was selected as a Youth Envoy for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme with his aim being to spread awareness about the statutes of U.N Habitat which include urban stabilisation and to help formulate plans for effective water management, slum eradication and women and youth empowerment.[101] Soon after he announced two further social projects, "Karka Kasadara" and "Patchai Puratchi", with the former being to identify school and college drop outs and help them to stand on their own feet, while the latter was about planting trees with an aim to make Chennai go green.[3]

In the media

Since the success of Sethu's, Vikram's intense performances and variety of roles has received critical acclaim.[102] His performances as a rogue turned mentally ill patient in Sethu, a gravedigger with autism spectrum disorders in Bala's Pithamagan, a Brahmin youth with multiple personality disorder in Anniyan and a mentally challenged adult with the maturity of a six-year-old boy in Deiva Thirumagal are all roles in which he played a mentally affected man, with Vikram mentioning he does such roles to reinvent himself on screen.[103] Furthermore, Vikram has enjoyed a large fan following in Andhra Pradesh as a result of a series of successful dubbed Telugu films with Aparichitudu, dubbed from his Tamil film Anniyan, being among the most successful Telugu films of 2005. All his films are thus released in Telugu soon after their original release in Tamil, while Anniyan was also dubbed in Hindi as Aparichit.[8] He is amongst the most decorated actors in terms of awards in the history of Tamil cinema. He holds a National Film Award for Best Actor; a feat only matched by four other actors in Tamil films. Moreover, Vikram holds four Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil, with the tally being only second to Kamal Haasan who has ten wins. In 2010 his film, Raavan was promoted at the Cannes Film Festival and then screened at Venice Film Festival and the Busan International Film Festival.[80] Within weeks of release, Deiva Thirumagal was sent to the Asia Pacific Screen Awards after it was nominated by the Film Federation of India and the National Film Development Corporation.[104] Vikram is also a recipient of the Kalaimamani Award from the Government of Tamil Nadu in 2004. Other recognitions includes a string of Cinema Express Awards, Vijay Awards and Tamil Nadu State Film Awards, including recognition in three different categories. In 2011, Vikram was awarded an honorary doctorate from Università Popolare degli Studi di Milano (People's University of Milan) in the field of Fine Arts. Vikram accepted the title on 29 May 2011 and in his next release, Deiva Thirumagal, he was creditted as Dr. Chiyaan Vikram.[105]

Personal life

Vikram met his wife, Shailaja Balakrishnan, for the first time when he was in crutches, following three years of being hospital-ridden after his broken leg in the late 1980s. Vikram got married to Shailaja in Guruvayoor in an event which saw dozens of other couples get married at the same time at the same place.[12] She originates from Thalassery, Kerala and now works as a psychology teacher at a leading Chennai school.[106] Shailaja also worked in the team of Deiva Thirumagal by giving professional advice on how people with special needs are treated and helping develop the characteristics of the character played by Vikram.[107] Vikram's daughter, Akshita, is nineteen and his son Dhruv is fourteen, with Vikram suggesting that his son is a keen actor.[103] He lives in a house near the beach in Besant Nagar, Chennai and has stated that he would remain based in Chennai regardless of any offers in other regional films.[108]


Year Film Role Language Notes
1990 En Kadhal Kanmani Tamil
1991 Thanthu Vitten Ennai Raju Tamil
1992 Meera Jeeva Tamil
1992 Kaaval Geetham Ashok Tamil
1993 Dhruvam Bhadran Malayalam
1993 Chirunavvula Varamistava Telugu
1993 Mafia Harishankar Malayalam
1994 Sainyam Cadet Jiji Malayalam
1994 Bangaru Kutumbam Telugu
1994 Pudhiya Mannargal Satyamoorthy Tamil
1995 Street Malayalam
1995 Adalla Majaka Telugu
1996 Mayoora Nritham Malayalam
1996 Akka Bagunnava Telugu
1996 Indraprastham Peter Malayalam
1996 Rajaputhran Manu Malayalam
1997 Ithu Oru Snehagadha Roy Malayalam
1997 Ullaasam Dev Tamil
1997 Kurralla Rajyam Telugu
1998 Kangalin Vaarthighal Tamil
1999 Housefull Hamid Tamil
1999 Sethu Sethu (Chiyaan) Tamil Tamil Nadu State Film Special Prize for Best Actor
Filmfare Special Award – South
2000 Red Indians Malayalam
2000 Siragugal Tamil TV film
2001 Indriyam Udhaya Malayalam
2001 9 Nelalu Virendra Telugu
2001 Youth Babu Telugu
2001 Vinnukum Mannukum Selvam Tamil
2001 Dhill Kanagavel Tamil
2001 Kasi Kasi Tamil Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil
2002 Gemini Gemini Tamil ITFA Best Actor Award
2002 Samurai Thiagarajan Tamil
2002 King Raja Shanmugam Tamil
2003 Dhool Aarumugam Tamil
2003 Kadhal Sadugudu Suresh Tamil
2003 Saamy Aarusaamy Tamil Nominated—Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil
2003 Pithamagan Chitthan Tamil National Film Award for Best Actor
Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil
Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actor
2004 Arul Arulkumaran Tamil
2005 Anniyan Ramanujam (Anniyan/Remo) Tamil Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil
Asianet Special Honour Jury Award
2005 Majaa Arivumathi Tamil
2008 Bheema Sekhar Tamil Nominated—Vijay Award for Favourite Hero
2009 Kanthaswamy Kanthaswamy Tamil Nominated—Vijay Award for Favourite Hero
2010 Raavan Dev Pratap Sharma Hindi Nominated—Stardust Award for Superstar of Tomorrow – Male
Nominated—Star Screen Award for Best Supporting Actor
2010 Raavanan Veeraiya Tamil Filmfare Award for Best Actor – Tamil
Vijay Award for Best Actor
2011 Deiva Thirumagal Krishna Tamil
2011 Rajapattai Anal Murugan Tamil Filming
2012 Karikalan Karikala Chola Tamil Filming
2012 Thaandavam Shiva Tamil Pre-production


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External links

National Film Award
Preceded by
Ajay Devgan
for The Legend of Bhagat Singh
Best Actor
for Pithamagan

Succeeded by
Saif Ali Khan
for Hum Tum

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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