Vidaarth: Our intent is not to hurt anyone, just to speak the truth

Actors Vidaarth and Vani Bhojan, along with director SP Subburaman, discuss the politics of their upcoming film Anjaamai and share that they were all moved to tears by its story
Vidaarth: Our intent is not to hurt anyone, just to speak the truth

‘Purpose’ is what’s said to drive a human. It is what’s said to motivate people to move mountains. The team behind the upcoming film Anjaamaiactors Vidaarth and Vani Bhojan and director SP Subburaman—is united by a singular purpose: To make a socially responsible film. “I love working on such scripts. This feeling of being part of a responsible film gives me so much joy. The messaging becomes so much more powerful when it comes through art,” says Vani Bhojan. Vidaarth agrees. “For decades, villagers shared their problems and concerns with their kings through therukoothu. Now, we have the medium of cinema and I feel extremely proud to have used this to create an impact through a story.”

In their upcoming film Anjaamai, the topic addressed is the negative impact of NEET exam. Filmmaker SP Subburaman was confident that this would make for a strong subject for his film. “Whatever reception that the film may receive is not in our hands, but everything I feel about this topic is explored in the film, including the issues that come out of it. It’s better that the audience watch the film, so I don’t come through as preachy by talking about it here,” he says.

Vidaarth shares that the film and its topic really affected him. “It’s not just for us actors, but I think even the audience will feel the emotional intensity of the story conveyed through the film.” Vani reveals that one scene almost broke her. “I rushed to my vanity van after the scene and began crying. I told the team that I couldn’t come out and that I just wanted to go home to recover. The team got so frightened that they performed some rituals to ward off what they processed to be the effect of ‘evil eyes’,” she says. The director shares that his tryst with tears began right at the stage of narration. “When story narrators cry, I end up laughing. But here, it happened for me. At one point, while explaining a portion of the film, I choked and welled up. This is a film that has its own life.”

Vidaarth has been part of many socially responsible films in his career, including Oru Kidayin Karunai ManuKurangu Bommai, and of course, his recent release, Kuiko. For Vani Bhojan, films like Tamil Rockerz and Raame Aandalum Raavane Aandalum come under this categoryVani didn’t quite set out to be part of such films, necessarily. “I think responsible filmmakers gravitate to me with their scripts. It is only now that I am noticing the pattern,” she says, while Vidaarth goes a step further to assert that as an actor, it is important to actively pick such roles. In Anjaamai, he plays an actor, echoing his own journey, as the actor started out in his early years as a drama artist in theatre group, Koothu-p-pattarai. “From script reading, sketching how the character looks, understanding their mannerisms and work, we have done everything to create this character. The whole process of preparation mirrored the pre-production and set-up of a theatre play,” he explains.

Vani is aware that she has the reputation of being a really picky actor. “Last year, I heard the scripts of seven to eight films and rejected them all as I didn’t agree with them. I think it’s perfectly all right to wait for the right film.” She is thankful that she has come to a a stage in her career where she can afford to say no to films. The actor, who has played an onscreen mother quite a few times, doesn’t think there is any worry of being stereotyped. “I don’t think it affects the roles that I get approached for. Ageism in the industry doesn’t exist anymore. Earlier, I got told that after a certain age, I couldn’t play lead characters, but that has changed now,” she says, pointing out the relevance of actors like Simran, Tabu and Jyotika.

Vidaarth hopes that the roles he gets pushes his boundaries as an actor. He describes the journey as an ‘unquenchable thirst’. “I am thankful to my directors for having given me diverse roles to experiment with. In fact, I am more interested in doing roles that people think won’t suit me. For example, nobody thought that I could pull off a villain in Anbarivu. I loved the story and the character so much that I even gave up a few films for it,” says Vidharth, who is working on a web series for the first time. “It is an extraordinary script with a promising team. I can only tell you that much now,” he says, smiling.

Much has been debated about the politics surrounding the NEET exam, but Vidaarth assures that Anjaamai isn’t just about that. He believes that it is a film not just for Tamilians, but for everyone. “Every scene in the second half will surprise you and keep you hooked. We don’t intend to hurt anyone; we only want to tell the truth.”

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