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Vishal on Mark Antony: I will feel proud of this movie even after 10 years - exclusive

In an exclusive chat with OTTplay, Vishal took pride in being the only member of the Tamil film fraternity who embraces the process of test screenings. 

Vishal on Mark Antony: I will feel proud of this movie even after 10 years - exclusive
Vishal will be next seen in Mark Antony.

Last Updated: 06.47 PM, Sep 14, 2023


Actor-filmmaker Vishal is fully convinced that his latest movie Mark Antony, which is due in cinemas on September 15, will resonate with audiences of all demographics, spanning both rural and urban areas.

Vishal's source of confidence is not his sheer belief in his talent or artistic vision. But, it stems from the meticulously collected data from four test screenings conducted before finishing the theatrical cut.

In an exclusive chat with OTTplay, Vishal took pride in being the only member of the Tamil film fraternity who embraces the process of test screenings.

Vishal's test audiences include laymen and those knowledgeable about filmmaking intricacies. Their feedback, averaged as a percentage of total reactions, guided the film's editing process.

Director Adhik Ravichandran, editor Vijay Velukutty and Vishal ran the four-test screening and revised that many times before locking its final version for the theartical release.

Vishal calls this process "eye-opening" even as it runs the risk of compromising the director's original vision. However, for Vishal, it's the process that helped to foolproof Irumbu Thirai against the box office uncernity. The 2018 techno-thriller delves into the dark world of cybercrime and personal privacy. It received critical praise and also became the biggest commercial hit in Vishal's career.

"When I showed the first half of Irumbu Thirai to the press three days before the release, everyone thought I must have lost my mind. I wanted to understand how much the press was eager to watch the second half. And it really worked," Vishal recalled.

After multiple revisions based on test screening feedback he received, Vishal is looking forward to scoring another big hit in his career with Mark Antony.


Below are the edited excerpts from a conversation with Vishal:

What did you like about Mark Antony?

There are a lot of surprise elements in the movie. It's a quirky, out-of-the-box screenplay, which I have never done in the last 19 years of my career. This film was a new experience for me.

How do you select your movies?

I listen to the scripts, not as an actor/filmmaker but as an audience. I go and watch my favourite actors' movies in theatres. I know where a movie lags, where are the clap moments, and at which point it really connects to the audience. I listen to every script the same way.

How did Mark Antony come about?

Adhik followed me for seven years to do a film with me. And finally, I made some time for him. When he narrated the script, the first thing that hit me was there was a double role in it. I have never done a double role in my career in all of the 32 films. The second thing was playing the role of father and son. The father belongs to the 70s and the son belongs to the 90s. Mark, the son, is a timid mechanic, and Antony, the father, is a terror-inducing gangster. I could really connect with the way he narrated it, and I was convinced that this was going to be a landmark movie in my career. I knew that I could feel proud of this movie even after 10 years.

What was so exciting about your characters in the movie?

As an actor, I have played many roles. But, playing Mark and Antony was super challenging for me. Fans will never see Vishal in the movie. They will see only Mark and Antony. I saw this movie had a strong foundation and with the right cast and crew, I knew, it could be transformed into something excellent. When I saw the movie, it was a super cinematic experience for me. I am glad I achieved it.

A poster of Mark Antony
A poster of Mark Antony

Mark Antony is a sci-fi drama. Do you think it will appeal to mass audiences?

Usually, we get to see movies from such genres once in five years. Generally, such genres only cater to a particular urban audience. But, this movie will strike a chord with even audiences in rural areas. That's the best part of the screenplay. This was one of the reasons why I accepted this film.

What can you tell us about SJ Suryah's character in the movie?

He's a firecracker. He also plays a double role, father and son, in the movie. He's both the villain and comedian in it. It takes a special talent to deliver varied performances in the same movie. He will make the audience hate him with his villainous dialogues and fall in love with him with comical performances. He has been a super valuable addition to the movie. You will see it when you watch the film.

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