Tamil movie star Vijay Sethupathi is known for his risk taking ways in the Indian cine world. When many heroes his calibre prefer to play it safe by sticking to a familiar character that is bankable and crowd-friendly, the 39-year-old actor prefers to switch things up.
Since his breakthrough performance as a goatherd in the 2010 Thenmerku Paruvakaatru, Vijay has moved on to play a variety of roles throughout his career, namely a loveable rowdy in Naanum Rowdy Dhaan, a fumbling alcoholic in Dharma Durai and an honest policeman in Sethupathi.
Vijay was in Malaysia recently to promote his latest film Kavan, and during a press conference held in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, the film star admitted that fans’ expectations to see something new or different every time is a burden put on the actors.
“The actors can only do what is within the scope of the movie. We do what is outlined for the character, and that too we give our best,” said Vijay.
Nevertheless it is not a challenge that Vijay cannot handle, as he has proven time and again.
In Kavan, Vijay plays Thilak, a reporter at an Indian news channel. In her second Tamil film role, Madonna Sebastian plays Malar, and comedian Jagan plays his namesake in this movie about mass media’s responsibility in dispensing truth to the public. The film touches upon politics, and the intricate relationship it has with journalism.
“It was such a great experience working with Vijay and the rest of the cast and crew on Kavan. Vijay is as you see him in movies – funny, carefree and easy going. He really kept the energy going on set with his upbeat personality,” said Madonna, who made her Kollywood debut in 2015 with Kadhalum Kadandhu Pogum.
Kavan, which means “catapult” in Tamil, is directed by KV Anand – known for blockbusters such as Ko, Maatraan and Anegan, and with an Rs16 crores (RM11mil) budget, this is also Vijay’s most expensive film to date.
There have been comparisons between Kavan and the 2011 Ko, but in an article in The Times Of India, movie producer Kalpathi S Aghoram defended the new movie by saying that: “The only similarity the two films has is the media backdrop. The subject Kavan deals with is different from the one Ko handled. Kavan touches upon a social issue, but it will not be preachy. The film revolves around television – it talks about the politics in that field. The story is such that it will be hard-hitting. At the same time, it will have ample romance and action.”
Nevertheless, Vijay says that every movie aims to entertain people and convey a message, and it is no different with this newest offering.
“Kavan highlights the condition of today’s society and shows that there’s good and bad in everything,” said Vijay.
The movie also features the acting talents of many Indian cinema’s yesteryear stars like T. Rajendar, Pandiyarajan and Nasser.
When a journalist noted that Kavan has many old stars, Vijay corrected her by saying: “Instead of new or old stars, can we agree that the movie has less and more experienced talents? To quote a line from Kung Fu Panda – ‘There are no accidents’. All the actors are in this movie for a reason, and each one of us were selected because we suit the role best,” said Vijay.
Musical duo Hip Hop Tamizha – one of the most sought-after music makers in India – was drafted to produce songs for the film. Even before the release of Kavan, songs from the movie Theeratha Villaiyatu Pillai and Oxygen were already bonafide hits with heavy rotations on radio and television.
Aadhi Venkatapathy of Hip Hop Tamizha, said that he is particularly happy with the song Theeratha Villaiyatu Pillai which features lyrics by the renowned Indian poet Subramania Bharati, better known as Bharathiyar.
“I wanted to include a line from Bharathiyar in a song in the movie, but I didn’t want to just insert it anywhere. It had to have a prominent role. I knew that KV sir is very open to new ideas, and when I pitched it to him, he decided that the entire lyrics to the song should be made of Bharatiyar’s poem of the same name,” explained Aadhi.
Madonna, a trained classical Carnatic singer, also sings a song in this movie. “I have sung in movies for other languages, but this is my first time singing a Tamil feature song. So I guess, I am also making my Tamil singing debut in Kavan,” she shared.