Vishal assisted actor-director Arjun Sarja in his venture Vedham (2001), and a producer spotted Vishal on the sets of the film and signed him to appear in an acting role in Gandhi Krishna’s Chellamae (2004). Accepting the role, Vishal prepared by joining Koothu-P-Pattarai to hone his acting skills and played the protagonist role of Raghunandan, whose wife is kidnapped by her childhood friend. A critic described his performance is “apt” but “there was plenty left to hone”. His next film was Sandakozhi (2005) with N. Linguswamy, who had previously worked with his father’s production house as an assistant director. Vishal was described to have “improved from his Chellamay days” and “clicked as an action hero”. Film journalists stated that he was “the fastest rising action hero” of the time. After a cameo as himself in Sasi’s Dishyum (2006), he went on to appear in Tarun Gopi’s action film Thimiru (2006). The film opened to mixed reviews with Vishal being praised for his intense performance with a critic calling his performance “the film’s only strength and, to an extent, making up for the weak script and poor characterisation”. The film became Vishal’s third consecutive commercial success, and he began to emerge in Tamil films.
His next film, the political drama Sivappathigaram (2006), directed by Karu Pazhaniappan was a failure financially despite favourable reviews. His next film was released in January 2007, Hari’s multi-starring family drama Thaamirabharani (2007) and the film went on to gain considerable box office success, carrying good reports amidst other big budget releases. Later in the year, he appeared in Boopathy Pandian’s Malaikottai (2007), a comedy entertainer. In his first full-length comic role, Vishal received mixed feedback for his portrayal from critics, with Rediff stating that he is “a far cry from the rather endearing young man in Sandakozhi”, whilst describing his performance as “cringeable”.Behindwoods stated it as an “Average masala-mix entertainer”. The film took a large opening and was declared a blockbuster, featuring in the top 10 at behindwoods box office. In the year 2008, for the first time, Vishal portrayed a police officer in Sathyam, which became a commercial failure at the box office. Then both his films Thoranai (2009) and Theeradha Vilaiyattu Pillai (2010) were just average grossers.
Vishal was then given the opportunity to feature in Bala’s dark comedy Avan Ivan (2011), after being recommended to the director by his friend Arya. Portraying a village stage actor with a squint, Vishal suffered from severe eye pain and headaches, whilst he also suffered a serious muscular injury on sets. The film opened to mixed reviews, though Vishal’s performance won positive reviews. Indiaglitz stated that Vishal delivered an “award winning performance” and that his “mannerisms and body language give you goosebumps”. The reviewer further cited that “Vishal’s spontaneous response to his mentor’s death in the movie is touching. His demonstration of Navarasas in front of actor Suriya will melt you in tears”. Vishal played the role of a police officer in his following release Vedi (2011), directed by Prabhu Deva, which was declared an instant flop at the Box Office.
In the 2013 film Samar, Vishal played a forest trek guide. Behindwoods stated that he “rocks in the action sequences” which include Parkour moves. He appeared in three more films that year. Following a cameo role in Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru, he starred in the action films Pattathu Yaanai and Pandiya Naadu. The latter was Vishal’s debut production venture. Vishal opted to produce and collaborate with Thiru for a third venture Naan Sigappu Manithan (2014), a revenge drama, in which his character suffered from narcolepsy. To prepare for the lead role, Vishal read up and studied real life case studies of people with the disorder, citing that there were no references from cinema which he could watch and learn. Then he had acted under director Hari for the second time in Poojai (2014), which did somewhat good business at the box office. In 2015, he acted two films, namely, Aambala and Paayum Puli, both turning out to be flops at the box office. In 2016, he did three movies; Kathakali, Marudhu and Kaththi Sandai. The former two where average grossers, while Kaththi Sandai became a flop at the box office.
In January 2017, Vishal signed his debut Malayalam film, as the main antagonist in the Mohanlal-starrer Villain, directed by B. Unnikrishnan.