Actor Vetri: Lack of recognition makes writers turn directors

As actor Vetri awaits the release of his action thriller Pagalariyaan, he reveals why he is not running after big banners yet, the hurdles of marketing a small-budget film, and more
Actor Vetri: Lack of recognition makes writers turn directors

The fact that Pagalariyaan is actor Vetri's 10th film hits you with a sense of disbelief since none of his films are released with furore. That seeming lack of anticipation, however, is not directly proportionate to the success of his films. Surpassing 10 films and close to clocking a decade in the industry, Vetri says he never felt peer pressure to do big-ticket films. "Content-oriented film fares as good as a regular commercial film," believes the actor. 

On being asked how he resists the urge to work with a big director or banners or a pan-India fare, he says, "Though the trend is to give a couple of hits and take the pan-India route, the audience strongly believe that if I sign a film it will have solid content. That is important to me." 

According to the makers, Pagalariyaan will unfold in one night and will deal with a conflict between Wolf (Vetri) and Silent. While time-bound films might look easier to make, Vetri, on the flip side, says, "Nothing is more challenging than a night shoot. As an artist, working from 6 PM to 6 AM is so taxing and the lack of quality of sleep during the day is particularly hard," he adds, "As you can see in the trailer, I sport contact lenses in Pagalariyaan, which I had never done. To add to the night shoot woes, it irritated my eyes for four days before I got used to it." 

From a naive cop who loses his gun to a thief in 8 Thottakkal, to a criminal genius in Jiivi who we can empathise with, Vetri has been spot-on with his character and film choices. On how he chooses his scripts, the actor says, "I owe it all to my directors for writing such roles. On my part, I do script reading thrice before I get into a role. If doubts still linger, I look up to my Koothupattarai masters and my mentor Mime Gopi." 

When we asked if the proper devolution of roles between a writer and a director in several of his films was the reason behind the results, he says, "I don't feel it is a necessity to delegate duties to make a quality film. But there is no denying that chances of going wrong are reduced if a director sticks to direction and leaves writing to a writer." Emphasising the need to give writers their due credit, Vetri adds, "Babu Tamizh, the writer of Jiivi, wanted to take up direction due to lack of recognition. A writer and a director being two different persons is more or less a norm in the Malayalam film industry and Hollywood, but it is still spoken of as a radical move here. To emulate this healthy trend in the Tamil industry, I make it a point to appreciate my writers in all my film-related events. I urge other actors to do the same." However, he chooses not to blame the multi-hyphenation for mediocre films in the TN industry in recent times. 

Even though Vetri is content with his steady progress so far, he notes that marketing a film with a new team or a team that is one or two films old is not a cakewalk. On the marketing bottlenecks faced by a film, the actor says, "Unlike urban centres where we have three screens in a street, say a town or a village will only have three theatres on a whole, which will go straight to the big hero films. Several films of mine have worked due to strong word of mouth, but the kicker is that not all small producers can hold their films on the screens till the audience reactions organically reach everybody. To add to it, by the time low-budget producers finish their film, they are exhausted of resources to work on promotions." 

Partly agreeing with us when we asked if OTT platforms are something low-budget producers can cheer about, he reveals, "Nothing feels like a theatrical success. It cannot be compared with a theatrical release. Also, only a film that did well in theatres can add value to the portfolio of an actor, director, and producer." 

Opening up on his future projects, "I am working on a film titled Aanmagan, which also has actor Prabhu in it. Besides, I am working on a Telugu film. No matter which language I choose, I won't compromise on the quality of content," a determined Vetri signs off.

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