Vijay Sethupathi on success of Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, working with Trisha in 96 and his moniker 'Makkal Selvan'
This is a good time to be Vijay Sethupathi. From a junior artist to now a bonafide star, he has fought his way up to become one of the most sale-able actors in Tamil cinema, with an expanding market and fan base.
This is a good time to be Vijay Sethupathi. From a junior artist to now a bonafide star, he has fought his way up to become one of the most sale-able actors in Tamil cinema, with an expanding market and fan base. The actor walked away with all the accolades for his crucial role in Mani Ratnam’s multi-starrer Chekka Chivantha Vaanam and is getting rave reviews from the press screening of 96 The Movie. In an exclusive interview to Firstpost, the star opens up about his journey:
The audience and critics believe you stole the thunder in Mani Ratnam’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam (CCV) as Rasool Ibrahim the cop. What do you think?
It was team work and every single actor in the film went on to make it work at the box-office. I think each and every actor’s role was well defined. All credit to Mani sir for making the script work. When Mani Ratnam called me to discuss the film, I mentally made up my mind to do it, even without listening to the script. I wanted to do it at any cost because he is one director I admire. When I met him, he gave me a narration and a bound script, and I just shot 15 days for it. I really enjoyed doing Chekka Chivantha Vaanam. It’s pleasure to work with Mani sir, he is so clear on what he wants and also gets the best out of his artists.
What made you do a multi-starrer?
I have done multi-starrers before, so doing CCV was nothing new. I have absolutely no insecurities doing a multi-starrer as I really don’t bother about others' roles. As long as my role is exciting I will continue to do multi-starrers. I’m playing a transgender in Kumararaja’s Super Deluxe, which is a multi-starrer that has fine actors like Fahadh Faasil, Ramya Krishnan, Samantha and others. In Karthik Subbaraj’s film with Rajinikant, Petta, there is a host of fantastic co-artists like Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Bobby Simhaa, Guru Somasundatram. I have scenes with Nawazuddin, and he is simply fantastic. In fact one of my dreams is to do a multi-starrer with either Mohanlal sir or Mammootty sir, two of the finest actors in Indian cinema.
How was it working with Rajinikanth?
It is a fantastic, once-in-a-lifetime experience to work with Rajinikanth sir. He is amazing and a complete professional and very humble man.
How do you choose a script?
First and foremost, I look at the content irrespective of whether it is a new or established director. If it excites me I immediately green light the script, then I look at my comfort level with the director. Both of us have to be in sync for the project to work. I really don’t care if the director had a hit or flop before, but I should be confident that he will do full justice to the script.
What made you take-up a romantic film like 96 The Movie?
The film happened because of director Prem Kumar. When he came up with a beautiful, nostalgia-invoking love story about two high school sweethearts who meet after 22 years at a school reunion and what happens over a night, I fell in love with the script. Prem was the cameraman of one of my early critically acclaimed films Naduvila Konjam Pakkatha Kannom. When he came (to me) with the script, I insisted he directs it to keep the story original and not to water it down with commercial cinema clichés. The film’s music, by a young Govind Vasantha, has already gone viral. Honestly irrespective of how it does at the box-office, I loved doing 96 The Movie.
How was your experience doing films with top female stars like Nayanthara and Trisha?
Both are complete professionals. Each has their own style and are terrific actors on screen. As far as 96 is concerned, Trisha has delivered a fantastic performance in a difficult intense role. I saw portions of the film during the dubbing and it has come out really well.
Are you building your fan base like all Tamil superstars? Why this sobriquet Makkal Selvan (People’s Man)?
I have not done anything to popularise my fan base. Sometimes it scares me to think that people love me so much. It’s not me that they may like but the characters I do in my films. I came up the ranks from a junior artist to become a popular actor and in my travel some people became my fans. As far as the title 'Makkal Selvan' is concerned, it was given to me by my mentor-director Seenu Ramasamy sir, who said people love me and I’m a people’s actor. My advice to my fans is to keep watching my movies but at the same time do your duty to your loved ones and keep working hard to make a living.