VIKRAM PLAYS RAW AGENT IN SCI-FI FLICK, IRU MUGAN – Anand Shankar
By RINKU GUPTA
When CHIYAAN VIKRAM signs a film, expectations run high. The actor is known to pursue scripts which require him to push the envelope. Fans are agog with curiosity once again, as he returns soon to the screen with Iru Mugan, directed by Anand Shankar. Produced by Shibu Thameen, the film has just finished its third schedule, in Kashmir. Before the unit heads off to Thailand soon, director Anand Shankar shares some exclusive insights into what fans can expect from the versatile hero.
The recently released fifty second teaser on Vikram’s birthday and the first look poster, gives the impression of a world-class film. There are rumours aplenty surrounding the theme of the film and Anand Shankar gives us exclusive facts putting media speculations to rest, “Iru Mugan is an action thriller based on international espionage. Vikram plays an Indian Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) Agent whose work takes him to international shores. That’s why we have shot majorly in Malaysia and now we’ll be going to Thailand as well. I read up on the activities of intelligence officers and tried to gather info on how they work. An interesting fact came to light when one of actors Karunakaran told me during the shoot that his own father was a former RAW agent. I couldn’t believe the co-incidence! Several portions have been shot in Chennai and we have just returned from a schedule in Pahalgam in Kashmir.”
Iru Mugan means ‘two-faced’ in Tamil. The poster with Vikram wearing a breathing mask makes one wonder if the film has a sci-fi backdrop as well. Anand Shankar clarifies, “Yes there are elements of Sci-fi in Iru Mugan but that’s only one part of the film, which adds to the intrigue factor. Basically I wanted to make an action thriller which is large in scale and has the fine sensibilities of a James Bond flick. When Vikram heard just a few lines of the story, he immediately understood the scope of the canvas, his role and how it will pan out on screen.” Rubbishing rumours that Vikram plays a transgender, Anand Shankar says categorically, “No, Vikram is not playing a transgender. However,there is another surprise element though which we cant reveal at this stage.”
With camerawork by RD Rajsekar the unit had a tough time shooting in the extremely cold locales of Kashmir. On why he chose the location, Anand Shankar says, “We have shot in parts of Kashmir that equal and even surpass picturesque Switzerland in beauty. We could have shot in other hill states but we wanted to get the real Kashmir on screen.”
Vikram’s jaw-dropping act
Anand is amazed at Vikram’s dedication to his craft, “It was biting cold in Kashmir and Vikram and Nayanthara had to wear normal clothing, not winter wear for their shots. But they did it without complaints. If you tell Vikram that getting ready for a shot will take five hours, he’ll actually jump excitedly at the opportunity! Even for a helicam shot which is a long shot which a dupe can do, he insisted on being in the frame. So Vikram and Nayanthara got into the Audi A3 Cabriolet and slid open the roof and stood up in the speeding vehicle, facing biting chilly winds in Kashmir, all for the authenticity of a shot. That’s how dedicated they are. Similarly, in the sweltering summer heat of Chennai, Vikram gladly sat for five hours to put on body paint for a song. He never goes for the easier option. He just craves hard work.”
The stunts in the film are done by Ravi Verma who has worked in several Salman Khan flicks and is currently working in Shahrukh Khan’s Raees as well. Anand has an aim in mind, “The stunts of Iru Mugan are very stylishly choreographed keeping in mind the international angle of the story. Vikram has given it his hundred percent and not used any body doubles. He’s one actor whose inputs and efforts only elevate the film.”
Talking further about the international stunt scenes, Anand discloses, “For a special shot we filmed a car stunt at Jonker’s Walk in Malacca which is used mainly by pedestrians. We had a stunt shot of a car which topples and spins three times in the air, flying over Vikram’s black BMW in the process. The locals were shocked how we achieved it all in the limited space we had, since cars are not usually allowed there. That’s one action scene to look out for,” recalls Anand.
Another nail biting action sequence was shot at the famed Putrajaya city in Malaysia, which houses the federal administrative government buildings. Apparently, a hi-octane stunt sequence was canned there on the famous Putrajaya bridge where usually no shooting takes place. “We got special permission and shot there. However, the shoot caused a traffic buildup since we needed an empty bridge. It was widely reported in the papers there at the time since it’s a very tough area to shoot in, given the importance of the buildings nearby,” recalls Anand.