Dhanush in gangster mode in ‘Vada Chennai’
Hard hitting and real best describes Tamil director Vetrimaaran’s films. His last film Visaranai was India’s entry to the Oscars last year.
For his fourth film, Vada Chennai, he teams up with Dhanush for the third time. The pair’s last film Aadukalam fetched them their first Indian National Award. With an ensemble cast that includes director Ameer (of Paruthiveeran fame), director Samuthrakani, Andrea Jeremiah, Aishwarya Rajesh and Daniel Balaji, Vada Chennai is one of the most eagerly-awaited films of the year.
Set in north Chennai, this story caught Vetrimaaran’s attention in 2003 when he met someone who spoke about it. “He wrote the story down for me, about a thousand words draft, but I could not work on it then,” recalls the director who was then assisting late director Balu Mahendran on a television series Kadhai Neram.
During the writing process of Vada Chennai he realised that the story had potential to become a trilogy.
Going against the grain, Vetrimaaran also experimented with his cast. Film director Ameer plays a rowdy Rajan. Andrea Jeremiah, mostly seen playing the urban young woman, is paired opposite him.
“My actors stepped out of their comfort zone not just physically but emotionally for their characters,” says Vetrimaaran.
The trailers of Vada Chennai reveal Dhanush’s two looks — his character Anbu is a clean shaven young man who subsequently grows into a bearded tough adult.
“Anbu is a career defining role,” says the star. “The first time Vetrimaaran spoke about this story was in 2003. We began working on ‘Polladhavan,’ and at that point of time, we could not make this film. We kept it aside to do later. After Aadukalam, we wondered ‘what’s next?’ And, then recalled this script.”
“Vetri was planning to cast Simbu as Anbu and he offered me the role of Rajan. Although Rajan is an impactful character, I was not keen on playing Rajan. I don’t mind saying that I was greedy for the role of Anbu. So I declined playing Rajan. But then Simbu could not take it up and Anbu came to me. It was meant to happen.”
Aishwarya Rajesh plays Padma, a bold woman and Anbu’s love interest, while Daniel Balaji is the villain. The supporting cast is impressive too, including actors Radha Ravi and Kishore.
“I have been getting offers to play a rowdy earlier. When Vetrimaaran narrated the story I liked it. Rajan is a strong role,” says Ameer. “I have watched the entire film and was amazed at Dhanush’s performance. Anbu goes through three phases in his life and Dhanush transformed himself for each phase of Anbu’s life-right from the manner of his gait to his body language. He is the pride of Tamil cinema today. Now I understand why Vetrimaaran repeats Dhanush in his films.”
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Vada Chennai releases in the UAE on October 17.