In photographer L Ramachandran’s new calendar, Vijay Sethupathi shows different shades of an artist


Vijay Sethupathi
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The association between photographer L Ramachandran and Vijay Sethupathi has become an annual feature. In 2020, the duo came up with Humans, a calendar that captured the mood of the lockdown. Kalaignan, in 2021, was a homage to the folk artists of Tamil Nadu. And, the recently released calendar, The Artist, attempts to explore the different shades of an artist. Ramachandran, in fact, refused other offers to work on this project with Sethupathi. 

“It’s fulfilling to work with him,” he says about working with the National Award-winning actor. “He completely transforms into the subject. You will know how much work he puts into it if you see our behind-the-scenes video. He doesn’t merely pose the way I want him to; he gets the emotion I want to convey through my photograph and portrays it beautifully.”

“We poured paint all over his body. His eyes would have burnt. But not once did he complain. He shot with us for close to 20 hours. I was ready to collapse. But he joked around with the artists on the set and took photos with them. That kind of energy is infectious.”

Ramachandran, who is based in Chennai, got the idea for the calendar during his conversations with artists who paint Tamil film banners. “With things going digital, the number of people who paint banners and on film sets is diminishing. Being a photographer and cinematographer, I can say how important they are. Their contribution has played a big role in many of my photographs receiving international acclaim. So, this calendar is a tribute for them.”  

The photo series featured in the calendar depicts several visual art forms (like painting, sculpture, and graffiti) and genres (like abstract art and portraiture). “We have also used different kinds of materials – like polystyrene, wood, canvas, scrap materials, eco waste, and spray paints – to build the sets,” adds Ramachandran.

Each month in the calendar conveys a unique theme. July, for instance, is titled Soulmates, wherein Sethupathi, splashed with different colours, stands amidst portraits of some of his favourite on-screen characters. The description reads, “The artist portrays so many different artworks in his career that each one presents a different story and character. Those characters are the outcomes of various backgrounds. More than characters, they are the soulmates of an artist and his thought process.”

This calendar was also Ramachandran’s most time-consuming, compared to the previous two with Sethupathi. “The whole thing took us a week. We had over 50 people designing and executing the sets.”

The proceeds from the calendar, through the Vijay Sethupathi Foundation, will go to struggling visual artists in Tamil Nadu. 

The calendar can be purchased on and on

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