Cinema

Seriously, it’s Vivek

After 25 years, Vivek finally gets an opportunity in Naan Thaan Bala, where he plays the protagonist.  

In his heyday, actor Vivek never missed a chance to flag up serious social issues, often making fun of rituals and superstition. But the audience never took offence. They laughed, instead.

The success of his comedy was such that he was always swamped with work and it became impossible to do what he had always wanted to do — act in a full-fledged serious film. “I was very busy at that point of time, I didn’t want to mess with my career,” says Vivek.

After 25 years, though, he finally gets an opportunity in Naan Thaan Bala, where he plays the protagonist. Wouldn’t it have been safer to do a full-fledged comic film? “It is true that when comedians try to become heroes, they try to do more of the same — they want to do a full-fledged comedy. But today, even the leading men want to do more comedy. I didn’t want to go down that path,” he explains.

In the film, Vivek plays an honest, simple Hindu priest. “I play a serious character. The film does have humour, but I won’t be the one who will be making the jokes,” he says, adding, “It was director Bala who persuaded me to give it a shot. Which is why the title itself is a tribute to him,” he says.

Has he ever felt that he should have experimented more when he was younger? “MGR became a hero only after the age of 40. So, I don’t think it’s late. The fact is I never wanted to be a hero. I always knew it was never my cup of tea.” And this new film, he reminds me, doesn’t mean that he is moving into serious roles. “I will continue to do comedy. But I would like to do something more than what I have always been doing. For instance, I don’t want to play a college student again. I am done with that,” he laughs.

Does he think the audience’s expectations of him have changed? “Today, the landscape of comedy has changed. Personally, I have never had any confusion about what the audience expected from me. They expect a brand of comedy that makes fun of social ills. I will continue to do it. But I would like to do a little more slapstick in the coming movies.”

Having criticised religious rituals in many films, how does he still manage to be religious? “I despise superstition and proselytising. I am a spiritual person who doesn’t like flaunting my religious identity.”

In his upcoming roles, he plays a cop (sidekick to Ajith) in a yet-to-be-titled film directed by Gautham Menon, an IT guy who dabbles in gambling in Aishwarya Dhanush’s Vai Raja Vai and Dhanush’s mentor in VIP ( Velai Illa Pattadhari). He says these characters are a little different from what he is used to playing. “In Gautham’s film, I am doing the role of a competent cop who expresses himself humorously. In Vai Raja Vai, my character changes colour halfway. I am just trying to do something substantial.”



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Printable version | May 8, 2021 1:49:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/seriously-its-vivek/article6092697.ece

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