A supporting actor stepping up the game and becoming a lead actor while also becoming a brand is no mean feat. From being one of the boys in Saroja to now doing guest appearances as himself, Vaibhav has come a long way. However, with a film like Buffoon releasing this week, the excitement of watching a 'Vaibhav film' isn't as much as you would expect, for an actor who gave a hit like Meyaadha Maan (2017).
Strangely, to many members of the audience, it still feels like he's in the process of becoming a full-fledged lead actor. Vaibhav agrees. " I think that has something to do with the movies I did all these years. I didn't get a good commercial mainstream film like the stars... adhu amayala innum. But I am looking to do such films and I have heard a few such scripts," he assures.
Ahead of the release of Buffoon, he gets candid and speaks about his career till now, the actor he wants to be known as, and more. Excerpts from the conversation:
You are known for collaborating with debutants, and it’s the same case with ‘Buffoon,’ which is directed by debutant Ashok Veerappan. What made you choose this script?
The characterisation of my role. I play a therukoothu artist, which gave me a good opportunity to explore that art form. As a thriller script, I liked how balanced it was.
The trailer shows your character getting into trouble, but there is a lot of mystery on what the conflict is about. A dialogue even likens it to a ‘crime worse than murder...’
That's what makes this film unique. How this guy falls into such a quagmire and how he comes out of it is what Buffoon is all about.
We know how well the songs of ‘Meyaadha Maan’ were received by the audience, and now after quite some time, you are collaborating again with composer Santhosh Narayanan for ‘Buffoon’...
Just like Meyaadha Maan, the songs composed by Santhosh sir will bring a lot of goodwill and praise to the film. Madichu Vecha Vethala and Thani Maramai are being received well by the audience, but I am looking forward to the background score which I thought was very well done, especially considering how such thriller films need a strong background score.
What’s your philosophy behind choosing scripts? Are you aware of how the audience likes to see you on-screen?
People like to watch me in such boy-next-door roles — like in Meyaadha Maan — but at the same time, I don't want to be type-cast. That's why, though I can repeat a Meyaadha Maan kind of film , I don't wish to. This is a conscious decision that I have been taking since Goa's release. After Goa, I kept getting scripts that were too similar to that film.
But I want to be known as someone who explores newer ideas; someone who does diverse roles and someone who never does two films that are similar to each other. As of now, only two of my films — the horror comedies Hello Naan Pei Pesuren and Kaatteri — have been repeated, but that just happened due to reasons beyond my control.
Horror as a genre is overused now in Tamil cinema, right? Could that be one of the reasons for the underwhelming response to ‘Kaatteri’?
It is definitely overused. I don't think horror will work anymore, unless it's an extremely thrilling subject and something the audience wouldn't expect.
Yes, Kaatteri got an average response, but it also had a lot to do with the delayed release. Had it been released four years ago — when it was originally intended to come out — maybe it would have worked better.
During the pandemic, you did Radha Mohan’s ‘Malaysia to Amnesia’, which was a small-budget streaming release. Many in the industry would have had qualms about doing a small film...
I just look at the content; I don’t mind how big a film it is. Moreover, during COVID-19, we couldn’t go for shoots and so I got this film at the right time. It had a limited cast and crew. Also, that’s when people were sitting at home and were eager for new content. Choosing to do such a film also comes under my desire to be dynamic and diverse. Maybe sometime in the future people might look back at me as one such actor who did diverse roles; someone akin to a Vijay Sethupathi. Everybody can’t be a Rajinikanth or a Kamal Haasan, but they can try to be Vijay Sethupathi.
You are well-known for your comedy, and you clearly don't mind doing OTT content. It seems like you would be perfect in a sitcom. Ever thought of doing one?
I can see myself doing a sitcom, but nobody has approached me with such a script. However, I am doing a web-series now for SonyLIV, the announcement of which should be coming out soon.
What’s next after ‘Buffoon’?
My next film is Aalambana and I am hoping that it will come out this year. That’s a film that needs a lot of CGI work, hence the delay. After that, I will be doing a thriller.
Buffoon releases in theatres on September 23