Vijay Sethupathi is relying on multiple releases a year to balance out box office duds; but at what cost?

Raja Sekar

November 10, 2018 14:32:01 IST

Rajinikanth had once advised young actors to release a minimum of two films in a year because if they couldn’t achieve the desired result with one film, the other project could save them at the box office. But most of the current generation actors couldn’t follow his formula for multiple reasons. Rajinikanth too reduced the frequency of his own releases. The superstar stopped signing more films after the humongous success of Baashha but before that, he used to have a minimum of four films in a year with the exception of 1978 when he had 21 releases. Not only him, many leading stars of the ‘80s, including Kamal Haasan and Vijayakanth, are also known for their multiple releases.

Vijay Sethupathi. Image via Twitter/@troll_trollers

Vijay Sethupathi. Image via Twitter/@troll_trollers

As soon as Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, and Vijayakanth reduced the number of releases per year, other up and coming actors followed suit. However, Vijay Sethupathi has brought back the popular trend of multiple releases. So far in 2018, four films of the actor's, including Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren, Junga, Chekka Chivantha Vaanam and 96, have successfully hit the screens. He also played an extended cameo in Imaikkaa Nodigal and appeared a few minutes in Traffic Ramasamy.

If all goes well, Sethupathi’s 25th film Seethakathi and Super Deluxe will also release within this year which means he will have a total of six releases in 2018. Besides these six films, the actor has finished shooting for Rajinikanth’s Petta, completed a schedule in Chiranjeevi’s magnum opus Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy and is also getting ready for the 40-day-long Thailand schedule of his untitled film with director Arun Kumar.

How has he managed it? “Most actors in the Tamil film industry will not sacrifice their sleep time and they need a break between two films. In my personal experience, Vijay Sethupathi doesn’t take any breaks. For his role in my film Imaikkaa Nodigall, he would start shooting at 11 pm and at 4 am, he would be on the sets of Super Deluxe. Sethupathi uses his travel time for power naps and to relax from the work pressure”, says Ajay Gnanamuthu who directed Vijay Sethupathi in Imaikkaa Nodigal.

Ajay says if all the actors are committed to tirelessly work like Vijay Sethupathi, the industry will flourish. "These days actors don't want to work on double call sheet basis. They prefer to shoot only a limited number of scenes per day which eventually increases the schedule. But with actors like Vijay Sethupathi on board, filmmakers can complete their movies within 30 to 40 days. Malayalam industry is progressing because their actors are ready to work without taking any break," says the director.

What is more interesting is that Sethupathi is playing challenging roles in all his films and has to appear different in each of them. In Super Deluxe, the actor plays a transgender named Shilpa; he played a travel photographer with a thick beard in 96, sported khaki in Chekka Chivantha Vaanam and in Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy, Sethupathi will be seen as a warrior

“If you look at Vijay Sethupathi’s career, his films have not been made on a huge budget. He likes to do films within a budget of Rs 10 crore and as said earlier, he rarely prefers breaks. An industry requires all kind of actors and Vijay Sethupathi definitely has a unique approach”, says Ajay.

This year, Vijay Sethupathi’s Oru Nalla Naal Paathu Solren and Junga tanked big time at the box office. His other two releases, Chekka Chivantha Vaanam and 96 saved his hero status in Tamil cinema. The formula of having multiple releases and a limited budget actually helped Vijay Sethupathi here. On the other hand, Sivakarthikeyan’s Seema Raja, Vikram’s Saamy Square and Suriya’s Thaana Serndha Koottam failed to set the box office on fire and all of them will now have to wait until next year to deliver a hit.

As Ajith's last film Vivegam was a box office failure, there is huge pressure on the actor's next Viswasam which is scheduled to release on January 2019. In the meantime, the massive success of Mersal has taken Vijay to a different leve. Therefore, Viswasam is a do or die film for Ajith. Had Ajith scheduled another film in 2018, things could have been different.

While multiple releases may help Vijay Sethupathi, they also exhaust the audiences to the extent that they come to the theatres to see his movies only after hearing positive reviews from critics.

“As a theatre owner, Vijay Sethupathi’s films are more lucrative over the weekends because almost all his films attract family audiences. But what works against him is that his films are sometimes inconsistent and too many releases actually affect his opening. Sometimes, we are unable to confidently schedule early morning shows despite him being a leading star in Tamil cinema. For example, the opening day collection of Vikram Vedha, one of the biggest hits of last year wasn’t great and it only picked up after a positive word of mouth started spreading on social media”, says Rakesh, owner of the two-screen complex Vettri Theaters in Chennai.

When asked about the multiple releases in various interviews, Vijay Sethupathi jovially said: "I’m not particular about the number of releases in a year. I do films which excite me. Sometimes, projects which were completed in the previous year release in the current year and it only increases total count."

Updated Date: Nov 10, 2018 14:32 PM