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.
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.