20 years of ‘Sethu’, which made Vikram a star and Bala a brand-name director

Posted on December 9, 2019

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Read the full article on Film Companion, here: https://www.filmcompanion.in/sethu-20-years-vikram-bala-baradwaj-rangan

Bala, as a filmmaker, is very much like Sethu, a very unique kind of brute force. His generation of filmmakers would go on to shape the Tamil hero we see on screen today.

Spoilers ahead…

I was not in India when Sethu was released, on December 10, 1999. Those days, Tamil movies did not get a huge release outside the state — unless they had really big stars. And Vikram, of course, was hardly a big star, then. His highest-profile films — Meera, Puthiya Mannargal, Ullasam (can you imagine Ajith and Vikram together today?) — were more famous for their songs. But suddenly, there was news about this amazing new film that had become a sleeper hit, and then this film went on to win the National Award for Best Feature Film in Tamil, and Vikram became the poster child for perseverance. Every starry-eyed struggler now had a new idol to worship, a new mantra to chant. How many sad little films he struggled through! How many other stars he dubbed for! How much he believed in himself! Keep at it, and you could be the next Vikram!

Twenty years on, there still hasn’t been another Vikram. I would argue that even Vikram isn’t the same Vikram. His blazing talent is not up for debate. He’s the best masala hero of his generation. He’s also the best actor of his generation. But oh, his films! Something keeps going wrong… but let’s not go there. Let’s stick with Sethu. I watched it again for this piece. I hadn’t seen it in a while and yet, I remembered every little bit. Maybe that’s how you know a movie is stuck in your head. And maybe it’s also because it’s a very simple story, really: it’s a tragedy about star-crossed lovers. It’s more about the performances and the treatment.

Continued at the link above.

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Posted in: Cinema: Tamil