CHENNAI: Vidaarth has been acting for nearly two decades, but became a household name only after Mynaa. The success of that film led to him getting a lot of offers. “I got some interesting scripts and chose those. Sadly, those films didn’t do well. An example would be Venmegam (2014), a nice concept that just wasn’t filmed as well.” He credits 2014 as the year that marked his turnaround, four years after Mynaa. “Aal, a remake of the Hindi film Aamir, and Kaadu — both completely different films — made the industry sit up and take notice of me and my ability to perform across the spectrum.”
His slow, albeit sure-footed, ascent was finally rewarded with 2016’s Kuttrame Thandanai. “The film took nearly two years and the time I spent with Manikandan was enlightening. We used to discuss films and as I talked about my passion for cinema, the stories I loved, and the films I enjoyed, Manikandan put forth a very compelling argument. He said that I should start doing the kind of films that I kept talking about, films that spoke to me. That was really the turning point.”
The actor then went on to appear in two of the best films of 2017 — the rural dramedy, Oru Kidaiyin Karunai Manu, and the slick city-based thriller, Kurangu Bommai. And this year, his first release, Kaatrin Mozhi, released to positive reviews last week.
“A lot of directors came to me with husband-wife stories. Even Oru Kidaiyin Karunai Manu, at its base, was one. But as with that film, the narrative should surprise you. Including a child in the story, and writing interesting scenes involving the child and either/both of her parents, is not that easy. I saw the original before signing up for the remake and the way my character was written surprised me. For the first time, when I went to dub, I did not give any inputs of my own as I usually do. Instead, I enjoyed the process.”
This Friday, another film of his, Vandi, is getting a release. “It is a non-linear film. You have seen me in such films before (Kurangu Bommai, Vizhithiru) and will see me in them again (Chithiram Pesuthadi 2), but you won’t see the same actor in any of them. And Vandi will be nothing like any of my other films. When I first heard the story, I admit it was confusing. But it also astonished me and that is always my standard for accepting a film. However, I realised this was one of those films that needs to be shot well visually, otherwise it won’t come out as intended.”
And the actor feels Vandi’s director, Rajeesh Bala, has done just that. “The film is absolutely visually stunning. For over 20 days, we shot with four Alexa cameras. The director used to keep capturing reaction shots of actors who weren’t part of the narrative, including me. He was a good taskmaster. I did not realise it then, but all the training I got on the sets of Vandi helped me with Kaatrin Mozhi. In fact, I would credit this film as a big reason for finishing up Kaatrin Mozhi in 37 days, much ahead of schedule.”
Vidaarth is now a bankable hero, but he is clear about his place in the industry. “I am doing another film with Dhananjayan sir, directed by Chimbudevan’s assistant, Ramkumar, and it will be very similar in treatment to Oru Kidaiyin... I am also doing a fantasy comedy, produced by Sargunam. There is also Aayiram Porkaasukal, in which I am sure Hello Kandasamy will be seen as the hero and not me, and Chithiram Pesuthadi 2, which will be my first gangster film.
I don’t see these films elevating me to the top hero status. But then again, that is not what I am looking for anyway. I am not a hero in any of these films. I am the protagonist around whom all the events of the films take place. That, I think, is a crucial difference. I like this space and I am just looking forward to being a part of good films that will stand the test of time.”