Actor Vijay’s journey | The road from campus to cinema, and political plunge
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The Vijay at college and the star he became over the last three decades seem different personalities.

February 06, 2024 09:56 pm | Updated February 08, 2024 05:35 pm IST

Members of Vijay Makkal Iyakkam celebrate the political entry of actor Vijay in North Chennai on February 2, 2024

Members of Vijay Makkal Iyakkam celebrate the political entry of actor Vijay in North Chennai on February 2, 2024 | Photo Credit: Akhila Easwaran

The stately wooden stairs in Loyola College’s main block used to reverberate to the sound of pounding shoes in the mornings.

The same set of woodwork was the base for Kajol and her pals to dance their hearts out in that iconic hit ‘Poopookum osai adhei ketkathan aasai’ from Minsara Kanavu.

This was the early 1990s when Internet and mobile phones were yet to surface. Latecomers would run up those stairs after getting an admit slip from the dean’s office below and only then would professors allow the time-violators into class. During some rare occasions, a gawky lad used to join, sprinting towards his B.Sc. Visual Communication lessons, on the sylvan campus of the college bang in the heart of Madras.

A boy next door

He seemed like a boy next door, without any airs even if people around him knew who he was: director S.A. Chandrasekhar’s son. Vijay, back then, was just making his tentative foray into Kollywood with a debut through Naalaiya Theerpu.

Having already made an earlier foray as a child artiste in the 1980s, he took fresh steps as a young adult in celluloid through movies that had adolescent inquisitiveness written all over them.

Also read |Actor Vijay thanks fans after announcing political party

At times in the canteen, he would grab a soft drink and even as a few of his batch-mates became his early fans and milled around, he looked distinctly uncomfortable with all the attention. A few words may be uttered before he sauntered back to class.

He seemed to prefer films to academics. Concurrently, another star-in-the-making was also at Loyola, but no one knew Surya, who was Saravanan then. Years later, they starred together in Nerukku Ner and Friends. From being a teenybopper star, Vijay attracted the family audience through Fazil’s Kadhalukku Mariyadhai.

Later, action films with punch-dialogues, too, cropped up while his fandom spilled beyond the Tamil Nadu borders, with Kerala becoming a solid market for his movies. However, the Vijay at college and the star he became over the last three decades seem different personalities.

The organic links

Extremely shy then, now in front of the camera or a microphone he sheds that reticence to dance with abandon and speak his mind.

Over the years, the organic links between Tamil films and politics have ensured that many stars gravitate towards leadership roles, and some have been Chief Ministers, too.

Vijay is the latest to join the bandwagon, having launched his party Tamilaga Vettri Kazhagam.

In retrospect, it looks like the song ‘Naa ready’, from his last flick Leo, is layered with an extra meaning. Perhaps, he was breaking the fourth wall and telling his followers that he was willing to take the plunge.

In college, you could sprint, but politics is also about the long patient walk; maybe, in his mind he has already made that switch.

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