“I am tired of the public portraying me as a humble guy” – Vijay Sethupathi

“I am tired of the public portraying me as a humble guy” – Vijay Sethupathi

When Vijay Sethupathi skyrocketed to fame with Pizza some called it sheer luck while others ascribed the success to the solid script. The suspense-thriller was tipped as the beacon of new age cinema. At the helm of the wave was, as critics called him, ‘Indie-film star’ Vijay Sethupathi. A supporting actor up until then, the film catapulted him as the darling of the masses. With Soodhu Kavuum the actor had come into his own, slipping into roles with ease. Kailasam from Orange Mittai summed up the bitter-sweet symphony of life, rowdy ‘Pondy Paandi’ convinced audiences of disillusionment behind the ‘glamorous’ rowdy lifestyle in Naanum Rowdy Dhaan.  A non-believer in method acting, he finds the fullest expression of his feelings through his films. His natural swagger and nonchalant style have earned him admirers aplenty. While he may not wear his heart on his sleeve at all times, he does allow Rebecca Vargese to take a tour of his life away from the arclights.

Having hands full

I got off to a flying start and have about five to six releases this year. I am happy with what I have. Even though my date diary is choc-a-block, I do not feel stressed, because I enjoy what I’m doing.  I am at ease with what I do, the roles that I have chosen and the people who I share screen space with.

Open to constructive criticism

Criticism and critiques are part of this industry; in fact criticism is part and parcel of life. People said different things about my films and roles, and the y are entitled to voice their opinions. In the same way I can choose what I take from the whole situation. If I am asked to pinpoint on the flak I received or how criticism has affected my work, I cannot do so because I do not allow these opinions to influence my thoughts. The criticism that I receive as an actor defines the sensibilities of the critic, which is subjective.

If someone points out at a few things that have gone wrong in a film, I do listen to them and take only what I find sensible.  I’m open to constructive criticism. There are critics who just like to rip everything apart that comes their way; I cannot be bothered by what they write or say. The same holds true when I receive a lot of accolades as well. Everything has to make sense to me before I let it affect me. As long as people are happy with the end product, I am glad. After all, not all opinions should be allowed to shape your life.

Going by instinct

I choose roles based on my instincts, it may not be a winner every time. In Sundarapandiyan which released along with Pizza, I played the antagonist, I did not think of it as a role with grey shades but it just appealed to me. There isn’t a very complicated thought process that goes on when I choose my scripts. It comes down to if I like the script, if I think I can play the part to the best of my ability, that’s about it (laughs).

Redefining commercial cinema

Some people say that Vijay Sethupathi doesn’t pick up commercial scripts. Well, that isn’t the case; all my films have done very well at the box office. I guess there’s a preconceived notion about the pattern of commercial cinema and I choose to break the stereotype every time.

Vijay Sethupathi - April (3)

I think movies are like documentaries, you have a responsibility when you make a film. My movies showcase the life and circumstances of the common man, relationships that exist in the given setting and problems that they encounter. These things could also be the mundane difficulties that we face in our day-to-day life like lack of drinking water and bad roads.

Good cinema documents life as it is, at least that is my formula, and alongside this writing there is a story. It’s not like I don’t want to make a ‘commercial’ movie but I like to look at the end product as a whole. I hope the movies that I make will change how commercial cinema is perceived in the minds of the audience.

Acting is only reacting

It is safe to say that I don’t undergo any sort of preparation for a movie. Acting is something we all do in everyday life. Our daily conversations are the same as the dialogues that I deliver on-screen. My acting methodology is ‘how would I react to this situation in real life?’ Maybe once in a while after a scene is rehearsed I look at the monitor to see if I can better it.

Friendship and mutual respect

I do not think of my colleagues in the industry as competition. The relationship that I share with all of them is that of respect. When you think of your colleagues as competition, relationships turn sour. I would never wish anything ill for another. If we have a simultaneous release, I hope both films to do well. You never know, we (my colleagues and I) may share screen-space somewhere down the line.

When it comes to talking about co-starring with TR, I suggest that you watch the movie and then analyse the relationship that we share both on and off-screen. Talking about friendships, I’d say Karthik Subbaraj is a dear friend.  I believe that Pizza was my big break. I respect his work and his ideas. We share great camaraderie and have lot of faith in each other.

Vijay Sethupathi - April (5)

Unsure of social media

I love connecting with my fans; I love to oblige them when they ask for pictures, but beyond that I like to keep my private life out of the spotlight. I completely keep off social media for the same reason. There is a Vijay Sethupathi fan page on Facebook that is up to date with almost all my public pictures, all these other social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram I find completely unnecessary.  Even on WhatsApp my status reads the default ‘Hey there! I am using WhatsApp’, I cannot get myself to type something there because – one, I don’t feel like it and secondly I am not even sure what to write there (smiles).

Love animated movies

I love watching superhero and animated films. I will not comment on the Batman Vs Superman movie since everyone seems to be a critic. My favourite is Kung Fu Panda; I’ve lost count on the number of times I have watched it. I woulD say it is one of the most sensible movies I have ever seen.  I also like The Karate Kid.

Matters of the heart

There are many memories that I thoroughly cherish: My first role as a hero, the day I became a father, the day I fell in love with Jessie (wife). I met her online. I was in Dubai, she was here in Chennai and we would message each other on Yahoo chat, five months into the whole thing we got hitched. The reason we keep a very low profile as a family is because I am the one who is in the limelight, while the rest of the family would like to continue leading normal, ordinary lives. I would like to keep my personal affairs close to my heart rather than have it splashed across tabloids.

Never struggled

People often think that I struggled before I made an entry into the industry. I have never struggled a day in my life, I have enjoyed all the work that has come my way. However, there are a few things I would have liked to tell my younger self like ‘Why didn’t you learn to dance better?’ Maybe I could have whipped out some really cool moves now if I did a better job then.

No sugar coating

I am tired of the public portraying me as a humble guy. I am not humble; this is just the way I am. Maybe I should try and do something to prove that I am not. I think I would describe myself as a slightly confused person whose opinion changes based on circumstances. I wouldn’t say that I am an open book when it comes to my feelings, but I call a spade a spade.

Vijay Sethupathi - April (1)

Price of fame

Fame has not changed me as a person; I still do what comes naturally to me. True, there are things that I miss. In one of my interviews I said that I couldn’t go back to my favourite tea shop since I would be mobbed by fans. So yes, I do miss the simple things of my early life like visiting that shop, but I guess that is the price that we all pay for stardom.

What you see is what you get

I don’t feel the need to dress in a certain way. I am very straight forward like that. Even my favourite look in my movies which is a bearded look is something that I carry off in real life. I have quite a bit of grey in my beard and I love the salt and pepper look. I don’t even have a workout regime. I don’t think I have a sculpted body in any of my movies (laughs). I just walk to keep myself fit; nothing more or less.

I don’t feel the need to dress in a certain way. I am very straight forward like that. Even my favourite look in my movies which is a bearded look is something that I carry off in real life. I have quite a bit of grey in my beard and I love the salt and pepper look. I don’t even have a workout regime. I don’t think I have a sculpted body in any of my movies (laughs). I just walk to keep myself fit; nothing more or less.