‘It was a minor argument': Vijay Sethupathi on attack at Bengaluru airport

Vijay Sethupathi speaks about being attacked at Bengaluru airport, and on why he did a film like ‘Laabam’.
Vijay Sethupathi
Vijay Sethupathi
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On Tuesday night, a man had lunged at Tamil actor Vijay Sethupathi at the Bengaluru airport as he was on his way out with his team. The man was immediately removed by his team. He was reportedly in an inebriated state. Vijay Sethupathi talks about the incident and his recent films in this interview.

What was that all about?

You mean the incident at the airport? It was nothing much. A very minor issue was blown out of proportion because an onlooker shot the incident on his phone. You know how it is these days. Every phone carrier is a filmmaker.

But that man is seen lunging at you?              

He was drunk. When people are not in their senses they behave like that.

Why was he allowed to board the plane then?

Nowadays you can’t tell whether a person is sober or drunk, thanks to the mask.

Was he a fan trying to get your attention?

No no, he was not a fan. He got into an argument with us. The argument continued when we landed.

Don’t you travel with security guards?

Never!  I only have my best friend with me when I travel. He has been my friend for 30 years. Now he’s my manager also. I don’t like to be surrounded by a group of people. I like to reach out, meet people, talk to them. I don’t want to become an insulated star, cut off from reality because of one incident.

But not having security can be dangerous?

Nothing like that, if you show love to people they will love you back. Anyway we took that man to the police station and it was all sorted out. Nothing major.

Okay, moving on, why did you do a shabby film like Laabam?

Because I believed in the subject. With due respect to your opinion, I must say, not every film is done for artistic satisfaction. I agree cinema should be aesthetic, and cinematic. But it needs to be a lot more.  I don’t think cinema is only for mass entertainment, though I do films that are for entertainment only. But I also do films that are informative. I don’t believe cinema is for timepass. It is and it must be an important tool for reformation. Laabam, I did for this reason.

Watch: Trailer of Laabam

You mean you did the film to spread the message on farmers’ rights?

You must remember that the British exploited Indians for 300 years. Why were they able to do that? Because they believed in divide-and-rule. While the rich have always remained one community, the poor are divided on the basis of caste, colour, economic status, etc etc. The farmers have always been an exploited community. During British Raj they produced sugarcane which was used by the British to make molasses, sugar and paper. Sugarcane was used to create every possible profit. What did farmers get? Almost nothing. The exploitation of farmers continues. Laabam is important given the historical context of farmers’ agitation.

So you did the film for its message?

Yes. I am not saying that all films should have a message. But I think it is important for cinema to send out the right signals to the audience.

What are you working on now?

I have to finish Raj and DK’s web series for Amazon. Shahid Kapoor and I are not fighting about our roles. We are working peacefully. So no controversy there. After this, I start Sriram Raghavan’s film with Katrina Kaif in December. Then I have Kamal Sir (Haasan)’s film to complete.

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