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Home»Interview»Exclusive! Vatsan Chakravarthy: I adopted a realistic, no-nonsense approach to play a gangster in Kuruthi Aattam»

Exclusive! Vatsan Chakravarthy: I adopted a realistic, no-nonsense approach to play a gangster in Kuruthi Aattam

The Kaithi, Arjun Suravaram actor is hopeful that Kuruthi Aattam would be the game-changer in his career

  • Srivathsan Nadadhur

Last Updated: 02.43 PM, Aug 04, 2022

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Exclusive! Vatsan Chakravarthy: I adopted a realistic, no-nonsense approach to play a gangster in Kuruthi Aattam
Vatsan Chakravarthy

Vatsan Chakravarthy was a teenager when his first acting assignment, Engaeyum Eppothum, materialised and turned out to be a huge success across multiple industries. He had huge expectations from his career and had even chalked out a plan on the kind of films he would want to do in the coming years. Destiny, however, had different ideas and reality hit him hard.

Worthy opportunities like Vathikuchi, Arjun Suravaram, Kalavu and Kaithi came his way but the day-to-day realities and challenges of showbiz almost consumed him. The pandemic, some introspection and an enlightening conversation with a monk from Thiruvannamalai helped him make peace with himself and take charge of his career with greater enthusiasm.

He persevered and is hopeful that this week’s release, the long-delayed Kuruthi Aattam, directed by Sri Ganesh, would be a game-changer for his career. In a conversation with OTTplay.com, the budding actor talks about Kuruthi Aattam, the agonising wait to watch the film on the big screen, his mental and physical preparation to play a Madurai-based gangster named Sethu.

On the prospect of holding onto a film like Kuruthi Aattam for nearly three-four years:

Honestly, with any other film, had I signed something and the shoot got stalled midway, I would’ve moved on to another project. When the director Sri Ganesh met me, he told me that he had written a particular role keeping me in mind. He wrote Atharvaa’s role first and then mine. It’s natural for a filmmaker to write a character for a star or a lead actor but when someone does that purely based on your acting potential, you value that project all the more. I felt my career would be made with this project.

Whenever I and Ganesh were discussing the project, we were the only ones in the office; many others had their families, commitments and moved on to other assignments. When I saw the footage of the film, I felt the role belonged to me. Moreover, many friends of Ganesh who’d watched the rushes called to compliment me. This is where I held onto my nerve, kept myself motivated and tried to make the opportunity count. Mentally, the wait wasn’t easy at all and I’m even scared to look back at how I stuck to my gut instinct.

Stepping into the shoes of Sethu for Kuruthi Aattam:

When Ganesh was writing the story, he met real-life gangsters for it. He was very clear about what he wanted from my character Sethu. Conventionally, an antagonist is expected to be dark, rude and aggressive but he gave me a different interpretation of the role. He told me that a murder or a crime isn’t a big deal for a gangster, it is something he would’ve been doing for long and nothing can really worry or upset him about his profession. For him, it’s as simple as a common man ordering a cup of chai at a hotel. However, he goes crazy when someone tries to tinker with his ego, he turns into a beast.

There’s a scene in Arya’s Magamuni where there’s a dialogue that a true gangster will never create a scene, he’ll do his job and leave silently. That dialogue made me understand how I should react to the situation in the film. Ganesh integrates the action sequences into the script quite organically. He doesn’t write it as a ‘fight scene’ on paper. He precisely mentions why and how they’ll take on one another too. When the stunt choreographer is on set, he performed and showed the scene to me. He effortlessly transforms from a ruthless gangster to a friendly boy-next-door while explaining the scene to his characters. He reminded me of Vikram in Anniyan. He has a very nice knack for extracting the right performance from you. He has opened me to a different idea of acting.

Building the right physique to play Sethu:

The director asked me to bulk up because when my character is whacking 20 people, it should look believable on the screen. Generally, in Tamil cinema, you see Madurai-based gangsters who’re huge and even have a tummy. However, when a gangster is truly focused on growing big, he’ll take care of his physical fitness too, which will in turn help his mental fitness. I asked Ganesh if he wanted me to have six-pack abs, but he didn’t want me to go overboard. Gangsters are largely chain smokers and alcoholics and they can’t have the perfect physique too. We sketched a body and anatomy for Sethu. It took almost four months to be in shape for the role. I had to lose my flab, build a muscle later and then go easy. On the 121st day, I was on the set as Sethu. I am neither flabby nor fully muscular in the film. We wanted to keep it as realistic as possible.

The changing definitions of success and failure in showbiz over a decade:

The definition of success was different when I joined the industry. My parents said that if I tried and managed to get roles in films frequently, then I was a success. I didn’t know that success should also translate into better remuneration, and meatier roles that help me become a bankable actor. Initially, the only thing on my mind was to be busy. When Engaeyum Eppothum released many years ago, there was some attention around me and I didn’t know how to deal with it. They used to give me film offers and I never used to know the script. I did another AR Murugadoss production Vathi Kutchi, which earned acclaim. Though I was getting work frequently, I realised there was more to the profession than the obvious and I needed to dig deep. I worked as an assistant to Santosh on the script for Kanithan.

I don’t know if I’ve tasted great success but there was a lot of uncertainty if people would forget me in the industry. Before Kaithi released, I came to Hyderabad to shoot for Arjun Suravaram and people still referred to me as the ‘Journey’ guy (the Telugu version of Engaeyum Eppothum). Somewhere I realised people remembered me and I had to take my roles seriously. Failure has made me humbler and I empathise with every struggling actor in the industry more today.

Even if I am successful this year or the next year, my only aim is to be even more grounded because it’s harder to sustain your winning streak. Success, honestly, may not teach you much, because you work towards it and attain it. If I’m successful, I want other to look up to me for my perseverance and take me as an example that he too can make it big someday. In these 10 years, I’ve understood that life is never easy and you must be prepared for everything.

Tamil cinema, always a priority:

I grew up in Mumbai and Delhi for a major part of my life and my hometown is Tamil Nadu. It has always been my dream to make it big here. My connection with Telugu cinema is that I have a recall value among audiences. When I used to eat at the late-night dosa shops in Yousufguda, an elderly woman remembered my role in Journey and gave me an egg extra on my plate. These are the moments we live for. I can’t forget them. If I get an opportunity to entertain Telugu audiences, I’ll be very grateful. Post-pandemic, I realised we can’t plan much in life. My priority is to make a career in the Tamil industry and if it takes me anywhere else, why not?

Expectations from Kuruthi Aattam:

I hope the film does well for Sri Ganesh - this is my major expectation. I just want people to look at me and say that he has something in him and if I do that, I’ll be satisfied. I hope at least one director or viewer would love me as much as someone loves their favourite star. I want another filmmaker to trust me as much as Sri Ganesh.

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