Soori, one of Tamil cinema’s sought-after comedians, is all set to make his debut as a hero in Vetrimaaran’s two part film, Viduthalai. Undeniably, it will be one of the most significant films in his acting career. Though, he is seen in almost seven to 10 films in a year playing the role of a comedian, for him, working in a Vetrimaaran film has always been a dream. And, now the dream is all set to come to life, as Viduthalai is set to release on March 31.
In a conversation with The Federal, Soori starts off talking about how he got a role in a Vetrimaaran film in the first place.
He recalls, “When I used to do comedian roles, many commercial filmmakers wanted to rope me in as a lead actor in their films. But, the problem was that the characters they offered me wasn’t unique. I always wanted to be a part of Vetrimaaran sir’s film and so, I reached out to him through his associate Manimaran.”
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And, one fine day, he got the call. Manimaran told him ‘Vetri sir’ is also interested in casting him in a film. In their first meeting, which happened before the release of Vada Chennai in 2018, Vetrimaaran narrated a script set in the Karaikudi backdrop. “In a narration, I always tend to pick out the interesting characters but to my surprise, Vetri sir had locked all the well-written characters and given them to some other actors. At last, he told me that I’m the one who is going to play the protagonist. I was flying but I politely thanked him without expressing my excitement,” recounts Soori.
Ajnabi and the pandemic
To his bad luck, the project failed to take off because the Visaranai director wanted to first work on Asuran with Dhanush.
“Asuran went on to become a huge blockbuster and I kept hearing the news that Vetri sir is going to next team up with Vijay sir and Suriya sir. I was disappointed but to my surprise, I got another call from Vetri sir’s office. This time, he narrated Ajnabi, a film about daily wagers in Dubai. During the photo shoot, we heard about the spike in COVID cases across the globe. The chances of shooting the film in Dubai and even in India became bleak. By then, I lost all hope of ever becoming Vetri sir’s hero,” he confesses.
Viduthalai, a ₹40 crore film
Vetrimaaran, however, did not let go and called Soori again. This time, it was for Viduthalai. The story revolves around a constable who goes on a hunt to track down a separatist leader played by Vijay Sethupathi.
Earlier, Vijay Sethupathi’s role was supposed to be played by Bharathiraja sir, reveals Soori.
Also, the budget of the film started off as ₹4 crore. But, as the film progressed, Vetrimaaran felt the script getting bigger, he says. “We shot the two parts of Viduthalai in 160 days and the budget shot up and went above ₹40 crore,” reveals Soori.
When Soori asked Vetrimaaran why he had cast him in Viduthalai, the famed director told him that he had the “innocence” required to play the police constable Kumaresan.
It is also because he looked fit, Vetrimaaran had told him. On being directed by the national award winning director, he says, “I took time to settle down on his set. Initially, I was loud and exaggerated my mannerisms. Vetri sir was slightly disappointed and told me to understand the character and react according to the situation. From that day on, things fell into place for me. I also strongly feel that comedians are good actors, and you wouldn’t know this until you give them a chance”.
Soori also had to pull of many risky stunt scenes in Viduthalai. “I had multiple bruises and fractures but that’s fine. Not just me, most of the technicians and actors had faced physically demanding situations to complete the film,” he confesses.
Also read: A brother’s revenge: Vetrimaaran’s ‘Asuran’ to hit screens on October 4
Equal screen time for Sethupathi and Soori
Soori describes working with his “dear friend” Vijay Sethupathi as a “great learning experience”. “He guided me in so many scenes. On seeing the rushes of ‘Viduthalai’, Sethu personally congratulated me one day late at night, when he was busy shooting for ‘Farzi’ in Mumbai,” he recalls.
On asked if it is true what industry insiders are saying that Sethupathi appears only for fifteen minutes in the first part of the film, while the sequel has Soori in only a few scenes, Soori says, “You are going to watch the film in a few days. All I can say is that there is equal scope for both of us.”
Delay in completing the film
But, why did it take so long to complete the film? To which, Soori replies, “I would say that completing two parts of ‘Viduthalai’ in 160 days is reasonable.”
However, he admits there were delays due to rains. “The shooting spot was inside dense forests, and it was difficult to transport all the actors and technicians in multiple vehicles. When it rained, the vehicles would get stuck in the soil. We could not shoot until the soil gets dry. There were poisonous snakes and insects, and shooting in such locations was challenging for the entire team. But, we did it without complaining out of love for Vetri sir and his excellent script. It was because of these hurdles, it took so much time to wrap up the film,” he says.
On playing a comedian
When Soori was busy with ‘Viduthalai’, he lost many film offers to play a comedian.
“Vetri sir told me not to turn down any such offers. But if I skip the Viduthalai shooting for a week, the entire schedule will be affected. Getting the dates of Vijay Sethupathi was also difficult,” he says.
However, Vetrimaaran ensured Soori did not let go of Sivakarthikeyan’s Don, Rajini’s Annaatthe, Karthi’s Viruman, and Suriya’s Etharkkum Thunindhavan. “I don’t have any qualms about playing a comedian. I will do more comedy roles in the future. But, I’m also getting chances to play the lead in so many films. As announced by Sivakarthikeyan, I’m playing the lead in his production Kottukkaali. PS Vinodhraj, the director of multiple award-winning Pebbles, is directing the film and Anna Ben plays a crucial role. I’ve also signed a film with director Ameer sir,” he shares.
Accolades are pouring in for Soori from the right quarters. The first person who called him after he had signed Vetrimaaran’s film was Sivakarthieyan. “He was thrilled for me. Rajini sir also congratulated me during the shoot of Annaatthe. Suriya sir and Karthi sir were also happy for me”, he says, eagerly waiting for the reactions for what is clearly an important film in his career.