Anuja Chandramouli



The Underdogs of Tamil Cinema, vijay sethupathy, sivakarthikeyan


Everybody loves a good underdog story. Something involving a protagonist whose own mother would have balked at the impossible odds against him. And then something magical happens and a winner is born. Tamil cinema has been fortunate to have its own off-screen success stories where leading men have emerged seemingly out of nowhere to storm the silver screen and carve little niches for themselves in the industry as well as in the hearts of the audience who will continue to root for producers to cast them in their movies. This is simply because every time a dark horse goes on to win the derby, it means there is hope for every person who wishes for a little more than a humdrum existence consisting of work, tedious chores and the rest of the minutiae that makes for a life of extreme monotony.

Vijay Sedhupathi is currently everybody’s favorite underdog story, and with good reason. His origins could not have been humbler as he was an accountant with Koothu – p – Pattarai who dreamed of making it big as an actor. Wikipedia reveals that he did not have a starry launch but played Dhanush’s friend in Pudhupettai. His newfound fans would no doubt be searching their memories fruitlessly hoping to remember exactly what role he played in Selvaraghavan’s gangster flick and most would come up short, since it is the most inconsequential of roles. The struggling extra found work in short films and other small roles in films like Lee, Naan Mahan Alla and Vennila Kabbadi Kuzhu. In Vennila Kabadi Kuzhu, his character is the one who delivers the kick which cuts the hero’s life tragically short and thereby a tad more crucial to the script than the other roles he essayed in this period.

Good times seemed to beckon for young Vijay Sethupathi with a leading role in Seenu Ramasamy’s National award winning film, Thenmerku Paruvakatru. Unfortunately a lull in his career followed before the proverbial storm hit in the form of three back to back hits that elevated him to star status. And an exciting new talent has emerged on the firmament of Tamil cinema to applause all around on the strength of his wonderful performances in the three films.

With Sundarapandian, Pizza and Naduvula Konjam Pakkatha Kaanom (NKPK) hitting the jackpot, Vijay Sethupathi is the one to watch out for now. Critics have been suitably impressed particularly with the kind of risks he took in Pizza and NKPK that paid off big time. In the former, he attempted something that has surely never been attempted in the history of Tamil cinema and left the audience reeling with pleasurable shock. In NKPK, a charming comedy his character suffers from memory loss just before his wedding. This role required a lot of restraint and Vijay nailed it perfectly. He will be seen next in Rummy and Pannaiyarum Padminiyum. His newfound legion of fans will no doubt be cheering all the way for him.

Vijay Sethupathi’s much deserved success story brings others to mind. Vimal, Shiva and Sivakarthikeyan are the other underdogs who have gone on to become popular stars in their own right. Vimal was the Kalavani who stole his way into fame with his unconventional and power packed performances. Shiva proved himself the maestro when it comes to tickling the funny bone. And Sivakarthikeyan seems well on his way to stardom with films like Ethir Neechal and Kedi Billa Khiladi Ranga,.

Their stories are inspirational because they are proof that hard work and talent is always a recipe for success. In a nation rife with corruption and intolerance, where the newspapers have nothing but unmitigated horror to report, it is lovely to read that an auto – driver’s daughter went on to become the topper in the nation after the Chartered Accountancy examination results were announced. We rejoice when we hear these stories because we live in cynical times where having little faith it is not just fashion but a necessity to survive and then the underdogs come along, turn things on its head and prove that there are some things still right in our system.

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