Arun Vijay: Hari has been extra cautious while directing Yaanai
In this interview with CE, Arun Vijay discusses about his upcoming release Yaanai, working with Hari, the possibility of doing a light-hearted film, his choice of projects and more
In a career spanning nearly three decades, Arun Vijay has seen many highs and lows. After a sensational comeback in Yennai Arindhaal (2015), his career graph witnessed a sharp spike. Arun Vijay went on to shoulder hit films like Kuttram 23 and Thadam and continued to share screen space with some of the biggest stars, including STR and Arvind Swami in Chekka Chivantha Vaanam and Prabhas in Saaho. However, the pandemic and subsequent delays have caused him to be away from the action for nearly two years. Some projects were shelved, some were postponed, and some, he says, are in developmental hell. "I utilised the time for a lot of introspection. I'm not someone who believes in planning too much for the future; I simply focus on picking quality projects that I believe will interest the audience," stresses the actor.
This week’s release, Yaanai, marks Arun Vijay's comeback after two years. A thrilled Arun says, "I'm very excited about this comeback, particularly with a film like Yaanai, which is aimed at all sections of the audience. Ultimately, we all want to see our films being enjoyed in theatres, and Yaanai is a perfect bet."
After years of speculation, Yaanai finally brings together the combination of Arun Vijay and his brother-in-law, ace director Hari. In fact, in many interviews, Hari has often said that he is waiting for the right script to collaborate with Arun. So, what was it about Yaanai that clicked? "It is not a regular commercial potboiler. Yes, it has all the signature Hari elements in it, but there's also an undercurrent of strong emotion."
While Arun Vijay guarantees that the core elements of a Hari film will be seen in Yaanai too, the trailer painted a rather mellow picture. "Hari was keen that Yaanai not come across as just another commercial film. He wanted to try something different with this film, and I trust his vision. The trailer clearly indicates that the film will appeal to the families, and that’s why it got a rousing reception during the promotions." This difference in approach could also be ascribed to the cold response to Hari's recent films. Arun does mention that the filmmaker was extra-cautious with Yaanai. "I could see that his making has changed. Even still, he has stuck to his strengths. Yaanai will have all his trademark elements including consistent peak points, mass elevation moments, and hard-hitting dialogues."
Similar to Hari, Arun Vijay too has attempted new things with Yaanai apparently. After a rather long tryst with urban themes, Arun is taking the rural route with this new film. "My last few films were all somewhat in a similar zone, and things were starting to get monotonous for me. That's when Yaanai came along. It threw up a lot of challenges and allowed me to explore with my dialect, body language… and I also got to do some raw, realistic action sequences."
Action sequences excite Arun Vijay the most. He calls it his forte, and you can see why. "Action is a universally appealing formula. If you notice, the highest-grossing films from across the globe will always be action films. But the trick is to keep striving to be different. I ensure that I don't use dupes at all, and I always think of new ways to excite my audience. Yaanai offered me scope to experiment because the action here is emotionally-charged."
Arun, however, doesn't believe that the 'action hero' tag has ever restricted him. "I believe an actor should not have any boundaries. I'm willing to do anything provided the script is exciting. I'm up for a makeover and do light-hearted films if I'm offered something interesting."
Arun's relentless thirst to attempt something new has him exploring the digital space with the web series, TamilRockerz. "I thought it would be the ideal project to explore the OTT space with. I also share a good rapport with director Arivazhagan and his team after working with them in Kuttram 23 and Borrder (soon-to-be-
Arun signs off by reiterating his philosophy of taking life one step at a time. "I prefer quality over quantity and will continue to do so. I like to take things gradually. For now, I'm hoping to expand my boundaries with Yaanai.”