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Interview with Vijay Sethupathi, the experimenter

From being an unnoticed supporting actor in the frame in films like Pudhupettai and Naan Mahaan Alla to becoming the most sought-after actor in Tamil cinema, Vijay Sethupathi, certainly, has come a long way. In this interview with Only Kollywood, he talks about his maiden production venture Orange Mittai, motivation behind failures, working with an A-list actress (Nayanthara) for the first time.

“One who never faced failures in life will be a failure forever”

Vijay Sethupathi has had a whirlwind of a career over the last five years with an equal share of ups and downs.  “Success is not a constant. Life is all about alternating between failures and successes. Facing hardships makes one more matured and level-headed. I truly believe that failure is more important in shaping one’s career than success. We easily tend to forget how hard our journey was after attaining success. It needs a failure to assess ourselves. It can make us introspect. Only a failure can help us learn from our own mistakes. One who never faced failures in life will be a failure forever,” says Vijay Sethupathi composedly.

Dialogue writer for Orange Mittai

vijay sethupathi interview pic 1Vijay turns dialogue writer for his upcoming film Orange Mittai, which he has also produced under the banner Vijay Sethupathi Productions. He plays a pivotal role in the film. “We considered few choices, which didn’t work well. Then I spoke few lines which our director Biju Viswanath liked. Later, we decided that I’ll pen dialogues for the film and share credits as a co-writer. Biju sir told me to approach nonchalantly. He asked me to come to his office daily and discuss about the film casually for two hours. That’s how it happened,” says Vijay.

Vijay Sethupathi did not put any special effort to write the dialogues. “Of course, I learnt about the disease Kailasam (the character played by Vijay Sethupathi in the film) was suffering from. Other than that, it was quite a natural process. Be it the conversation or the characters,” he adds.

The team has already submitted Orange Mittai to international film festivals. “More details will be shared after the release. It’s one of the top ten film festivals in the world. We will make an announcement most likely  around September,” he reveals.

“I love experimenting. There’s something special in every script”

Vijay Sethupathi is one of the rare breed of actors who proves his versatility time and again with his script selection. There are occasions where his films ended up critically well and commercially poor. “There is a risk factor involved in almost all films. People respect only if the film succeeds and gets accepted by audiences. There are some who love doing conventional films. There are some who would love to break conventions. I choose films based on my liking for the script.”

Vijay says he cannot refrain himself from being a part of a good script just because it is formulaic. “I love experimenting. There’s something vijay sethupathi interview pic 3special in every script. I would like to taste them all. And, the times have completely changed now. The taste of the audience has evolved. Earlier, only those households that are equipped with VCR can watch foreign films. Now, everyone is exposed to world cinema. They have started liking different kinds of content. Movie-goers won’t celebrate a film just because is experimental. The script has to be engaging. The film should be interesting and entertaining,” he elaborates.

Failure of a film doesn’t faze Vijay Sethupathi during most of the times. “We need to analyze the reason behind a film’s failure. If audiences watched the film and disliked it, that’s different. Who is to blame if a film doesn’t even manage to bring audiences to theaters? Lack of proper promotions and marketing is also a main reason. For example, Rummy got released just a week after Pannaiyaarum Padminiyum. It could have released a week later. But, the release plans are not under my control,” he observes.

“I’m eagerly looking forward to start shooting for Iraivi”

Vijay Sethupathi, who missed to be a part of the main cast in Jigarthanda, is looking forward to start shooting for Karthik Subbaraj’s Iraivi where he will share screen space with Bobby Simha and SJ Suryah. “The shooting is yet to commence. Everyone knows Karthik Subbaraj is a fantastic story-teller. Pizza and Jigarthanda would testify the same. I’m really waiting to join the team soon. I have a meaty role.”

“I learnt a lot from Nayanthara”

Vijay has recently wrapped up Vignesh Shivan’s Naanum Rowdy Dhaan and Nalan Kumarasamy’s yet-untitled film. While he is paired vijay sethupathi interview pic 2opposite Madonna Sebastian of Premam fame in the latter, he will be romancing Nayanthara in the former. This is also the first time Vijay Sethupathi shares screen space with an A-list actress. “Nayanthara is very sincere. Initially, I was a little scared since she is a senior actor. She used to respect everyone on the sets. I learnt a lot from her. She considers everyone in the team as equal including the lower-rung technicians. She is a director’s actress. Once she gets ready for the shot, she will never go back to the caravan. She will always hang around and prefer being with the team.”

“Arun is a very talented film-maker”

Vijay Sethupathi’s impressive slate of upcoming films also includes director Arun Kumar’s cop thriller. “Arun’s script is a superb one. He knows to portray the right amount of emotions. He is very conscious and sensible. In Pannaiyarum Padminiyum, I never used to mug my dialogues. His lines were so earthy and natural that I was able to deliver after glancing it only once. Arun is very talented and I really wish he reaches more heights in future,” says Vijay.

Vijay Sethupathi doesn’t believe in doing films that would transform him into a larger-than-life hero. “All my forthcoming films – Naanum Rowdy Dhaan, Nalan’s untitled film, Arun Kumar’s film and even Karthik’s Iraivi will be ‘mass’ with all the necessary elements. I wouldn’t say these films would take me to the next phase of my career. Because, no one penned these scripts just to elevate my image. It’s all there inside the script,” he concludes.

Vijay Sethupathi is currently awaiting the release of Seenu Ramasamy’s Idam Porul Yaeval which he has completed long back and Biju Viswanath’s Orange Mittai, which is slated to hit the screens on July 31st


Interviewed by Surendhar MK