Happy birthday Vijay Sethupathi: Here are six films that make us realize his versatility

Happy birthday Vijay Sethupathi: The actor, who turns 41 on Thursday, is easily one of the most exciting actors in the Tamil film industry.
Vijay Sethupathi turned 41 on Thursday.
Vijay Sethupathi turned 41 on Thursday.
Updated on Jan 16, 2020 11:51 AM IST
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Hindustan Times | By Karthik Kumar

From playing character roles to leaving his mark as an indie star and eventually establishing his position as a bankable mainstream hero, actor Vijay Sethupathi is a name to reckon with in Tamil cinema today. Interestingly, he’s no longer restricted to one industry as he’s already forayed into Telugu filmdom with Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy and is all set for Bollywood debut with Aamir Khan’s Laal Singh Chaddha. As the actor turned 41 on Thursday, we take a look at six of us films to truly appreciate his versatility.


The film revolves around a struggling theatre veteran Ayya Adhimoolam (played by Vijay Sethupathi), who had refused offers to act in films all his life, but finally decides to take the plunge and what follows forms the crux of the film.

Built on a quirky conundrum, it’s really gutsy of actor Vijay Sethupathi to pick Seethakathi as his 25th film as it features him merely for 40 minutes of the running time. Even in his limited screen space, Vijay as Ayya Adhimoolam stuns us with his versatility as we see him play a variety of characters over a period of few decades in fleeting shots. As a 70-plus actor towards the fag end of his theatre days, we see him essay the role of Aurangzeb with gravitas, making us realise his love and respect for art. Acting is his life, and the stage his world. Seethakathi reminds us that it’s still possible to respect and celebrate art through cinema without tampering with the soul of the former.


Prem Kumar’s 96 achieves what most love stories miss – the art of conveying love without actually saying it on screen. Never do we see Ram and Jaanu (Vijay Sethupathi and Trisha) express in words how much they love each other, yet we’re fully aware of how they feel for each other. In fact, the beauty of the film lies in the unspoken words – which get elevated by Govind Vasantha’s lilting music, especially the violins and flutes to fill up the blanks.

In his most natural and effortless self, Vijay Sethupathi delivers one of the most memorable characters of his career.

Super Deluxe

It’s impossible to categorize Thiagarajan Kumararaja’s Super Deluxe into one particular genre or even a few for that matter. As a film, it’s at times crazy, at times dark, at times philosophical, at times fun and equally emotional in parts. This concoction of genres is what makes this an experience that’s not just hard to forget but equally tough to comprehend because the film has so much to offer.

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Vijay Sethupathi plays a transgender and his segment featuring his wife and son questions gender dynamics and one’s basic freedom to choose who he or she wants to be. Scenes between Sethupathi and his son go beyond father-son bonding, and Kumararaja makes us understand it’s perfectly alright to embrace who we are.

Naanum Rowdydhaan

In one of his most exciting on screen avatars, Vignesh Shivn directed Naanum Rowdydhaan saw Vijay Sethupathi play a useless rowdy. He doesn’t believe in violence and his antics in the film are hilarious, especially because his mother plays a cop. It’s easily one of the unforgettable roles of Vijay Sethupathi, and even though it comes across as a straightforward simple character of a guy who is struggling to make an impact in whatever he chooses to do. Scenes between Vijay and Nayanthara are the best moments of the film.


A Karthik Subbaraj film, Iraivi saw Vijay Sethupathi share screen space alongside SJ Suryah and Bobby Simhaa. The film spoke about women’s freedom through the eyes of three power-hungry male characters but was heavily panned by audiences and critics alike for being misogynistic and reeking of patriarchy. Irrespective of the film’s performance at the box-office, it earned Vijay Sethupathi lot of appreciation for his performance.

In a refreshing departure from all the slightly comical roles he had played until then, Iraivi saw Vijay essay a dark role that undergoes major transformation through the course of the movie.

Vikram Vedha

It is believed that it was Vijay Sethupathi’s performance in Vikram Vedha that earned him an opportunity to work with Aamir Khan in Laal Singh Chaddha. The plot is simple. A team lead by Vikram (Madhavan), a ruthless, no-nonsense encounter cop, is on the hunt to capture/kill a dreaded gangster Vedha (Vijay Sethupathi).

In this battle of good versus evil, as audiences we are left to pick a side but everything you see is not what you believe. Filmmakers Pushkar-Gayatri borrow the narrative structure from popular folklore Vikram Betaal, and use it very effectively to make Madhavan and Vijay Sethupathi lock horns. The confrontation scenes between Madhavan and Vijay are easily the film’s best moments as they end in fireworks.

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Saturday, October 23, 2021