Varalaxmi Sarathkumar was one of the first actresses to talk about child abuse and sexual harassment of women at their workplaces, including in the film industry through the #Save Shakti campaign she initiated in March. She has always spoken of how it was necessary for wronged women to come forward speak up and not tolerate disrespect silently. She is happy that her initiative has found a spearhead in the #MeToo movement.
Her petitions for speeding up verdicts in crimes against women by setting up more Mahila Courts for trying cases involving sexual offences have been answered. Varu points out that the that Law Ministry, acting on her initiative, has increased the number of special courts in all the states, including Tamil Nadu.
Varalaxmi plays a full-fledged negative role in her upcoming flick Vishal’s Sandakozhi 2 and has ten films in her kitty. She speaks to DC as to why she prefers challenging roles than to get stereotyped.
“I am happy finally women are coming out and talking about their problems through the #MeToo movement. We know about what’s happening in the society and the film industry as well. It happens to everyone, it has happened to me too. No one will speak at the cost of their careers. And you have to believe the women because they can’t be making up so much. It’s really the time to listen!” says the outspoken actress.
Varu states that her upcoming talk show Unnai Arindhaal aired on a TV channel is all about voicing out the various issues faced in the society. She reveals that the first episode is on ‘child abuse’.
Ask her why she opts for villainous roles as in SK2 and Sarkar after having started her career as a heroine, she replies, “I don’t like to do stereotypical heroines roles. I crave for breaking characters and after all at the end of the day, it is also acting! And I am doing varied characters in my future offerings. And with each film, I like to challenge myself ”
Vishal, in an earlier interview, had said that the audiences will forget everyone else in SK2 and only remember Varu when they come out of the theatre.
“(Laughs). I agree the character Pechi I portray in Sandakozhi 2 is something unheard of in Tamil cinema. It is a larger than life role! You can’t compare it with Neelambari (Ramya Krishnan) of Padayappa or Sreya Reddy role from Thimuru. They both had a love angle to their act. Here it is totally different and Pechi is loved, dynamic and revengeful. Her only job is ‘revenge’. It is a tough role where I always wield aruval (sickle) and speak the Madurai dialect with an arrogant body language and out to take on my enemy. And the climax scene between Vishal and me is crucial to the film.”
The Thaarai Thappatai actress reveals that director Lingusamy was flabbergasted with her performance. “He said, ‘you have given more that 100 percent of what I expected out of you. You brought Pechi blood and flesh alive in front of my eyes.’”
How was it playing an antagonist to your close chum Vishal?
“Hmmm…it was fun and we used to laugh around so much on the sets which might have even annoyed Lingu sir. But the moment the shot is ready we would get back to the mood of the scene. There’s no love track between us. He is a good friend, that’s all!”
She says there are no combo scenes with Keerthi Suresh who plays the female lead n the movie. Varu was tight lipped about her role in Vijay’s Sarkar, all she said was, “My longtime dream of working with Vijay sir has come true! Those were exciting moments.”
She wants to wield the megaphone one day. “Yes, I am interested in direction. I love hardcore thrillers and the gangster genre. I have a few ideas as well. It may take time and may not happen now. For my script, I prefer to cast only Vijay Sethupathi in the lead (smiles).”
How does your dad, actor-politician Sarathkumar see her growth?
“He is excited and a proud father.”
We hear you turned down the role of Sasikala when director Priyadarshini approached her for her biopic on J.Jayalalithaa.
“If at all I am acting in the film, I will only do Amma role. She is an inspiration for all women. Her knowledge, wisdom and intelligence are incomparable which made her the Iron Lady that she was.”
Recalling an incident with JJ, she says, “I had danced for an invocation song when Amma had presided over ‘100 years of cinema’ event. Three years later when I got the opportunity to meet her, she recollected the event and said I danced so well. It was an unforgettable moment for me.”
What next for a multifaceted personality? Politics?
“Yes, I will come to politics at an appropriate time,” she signs off brimming with confidence....