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Vijay Sethupathi: “Ramaiah is the most difficult role of my career”

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Vijay Sethupathi

The Vijay Sethupathi Interview

By Subhash  K Jha

Without an  iota of doubt Vijay Sethupathi  is one of  India’s most accomplished actors . His range is staggering. His  performances stretch from the villain in  Uppena  to the  transgender in Super Deluxe. Vijay considers  his latest release  Kadaisi Vivasayi to be the most precious  role of his  career so  far. Here is  why. He talks Subhash K Jha.

It’s always a  pleasure to speak  to you specially after I see you give  one more brilliant performance in Kadaisi Vivasayi?

Sir,  don’t say  one more performance. This is  not a performance  and film that can  be  compared  with anything  I’ve  done  before. It addresses  the issue of Man’s closeness to Nature and that’s something  I  really believe in.

Was it the theme that  attracted  you to  the  film?

To  begin with .  it was an offer from director K Manikandan  a director I’d do anything for. We’ve worked together earlier in Aandavan Kattalai. He  is someone I trust blindly. When he told me the  subject  of Kadaisi Vivasayi

The farmers’ rights which you have done earlier in  Labam. So  it’s two back-to-back films  on the theme?

Firstly Sir, Kadaisi Vivasayi is not about farmers’ rights. It’s about the  bond between Man and Nature  , it could be   your  land or  it could be  a tree or  plant  or bird,  we are losing  our  connect with Nature. Secondly, Labam and Kadaisi Vivasayi  were not done back-to-back. It may seem so because they released close to  one another . But they were  shot in separate time  zones.

Why  was  Kadaisi Vivasayi delayed?

Kadaisi Vivasayi was delayed for many reasons. The producers were unsure ,and had to back out. It is very difficult to  get  a producer   for  something so  removed from the commercial zone. Eventually I had to step in as a producer, and  I am  happy and satisfied with  Kadaisi Vivasayi. I think as an artiste  it is my duty  not only to entertain but also to  use cinema as a  tool of knowledge and  reform. Sometime one fails.Sometimes one succeeds. But it is vital to use your voice  to better  your society.

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What   other difficulties did  Kadaisi Vivasayi have to face?

We had to stop  the shooting during the  Covid.We had to shoot under  really harsh circumstances. When  you are  making a film  like Kadaisi Vivasayi you have  to be prepared  for hardships.It is not a routine entertainer. Not that entertainment is   not  important. I will  entertain and also do a  film like  Kadaisi Vivasayi  which makes audiences think.

 In  Kadaisi Vivasayi you play Ramaiah  a wanderer,  a  man who has lost his love, someone who has no home  no attachments and someone who is very close to Nature.

It is  the  most difficult role of my career. I had to be  not only  close  to  the Nature I also had to become one with Nature at the end.  That was  not easy to do. I had to believe in what  I was doing. Or  I would have looked fake.I didn’t want to mess it up.

You are  not even the protagonist  of the story?

No I am not. An 85-year old   farmer Nallandi plays the protagonist. He was  a real-life farmer—he passed away six months before the film’s release—so close to Nature he could sit the entire day gazing at  the sky,  or  looking at a peacock.Or  tilling his small plot of land. I learnt so  much  from Nallandi just by  observing him.He  was  old but his energy  level  was  so high that he would  not rest for  even  half an hour during shooting.  When we would suggest an afternoon siesta he  would turn  around and say, ‘How can  you  take time off to sleep  when so much money is being spent?’  Nallandi could calculate  the exact amount being spent during the shooting every day. He  knew the value  of time  money and Nature. The time I  spent with him is  most valuable  to me.

You have a slew  of releases lined up. But nothing like Kadaisi Vivasayi?

It will happen again, Sir.All in good time.You just need to want to make it happen.

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