Not responsible for hype, trying to keep myself intact: Filmmaker Vetrimaaran

His latest film "Viduthalai: Part One" is set in 1987 in Tamil Nadu and follows the police crackdown on The People's Army, an armed anti-government outfit.
Filmmaker Vetrimaaran
Filmmaker Vetrimaaran

PANAJI: Filmmaker Vetrimaaran, known for his nuanced take on pertinent social issues through films such as "Asuran", "Vada Chennai" and "Visaranai", says he is aware of the expectations that viewers have from him but he tries to stay away from the hype surrounding his work.

Vetrimaaran presented his latest film "Viduthalai: Part One" at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) here on Wednesday.

"I'm not responsible for the expectation and the hype, and I'm not working on it or creating it. I don't have Twitter (now X), I was on Facebook but I'm happy someone hacked my account. So I'm trying to keep myself intact," Vetrimaaran told reporters at a press conference here.

But there are times when the pressure gets to him, the filmmaker admitted.

"Sometimes, it does put a pressure unconsciously when I'm working on the final cut. During the release, I find it really hard to sleep. It is an unconscious stress. But once the film is over, I get out of it. I don't watch my films after the release or read reviews," he said.

"Viduthalai: Part One", starring Vijay Sethupathi, Soori, Gautham Vasudev Menon and Bhavani Sre, is part of the Indian Panaroma lineup at the festival.

"Vidhuthalai" is set in 1987 in Tamil Nadu and follows the police crackdown on The People's Army, an armed anti-government outfit, that poses a big threat to the stability of the government in the region.

It follows Kumaresan (Soori), a new police recruit, who feels conflicted by the actions of police.

Vetrimaaran said he wanted to make a quick film during the COVID pandemic.

"This story I chose to write the script on was a novel written by B Jeyamohan and it was called 'Thunaivan'. I assumed that the rights would be with him to give it to me, I started working on the script. And then halfway through, I realised that I should ask him first. I called him and asked him and he said he had given it to someone else." After that, he reworked on the script along with Jeyamohan.

"So initially, my idea was to make a film on a police outpost in a forest where three people are working, and one guy brings in food and goes away. So it was supposed to be only in that outpost. But then I started working backwards. There is one guy who brings food every day for these people. Let me follow him, follow his journey into this world. He gets to understand the difference between what is said and what exists and through him we also get to understand the world, the people and the politics," he said.

Vetrimaaran said the film is still a work in progress and he is currently shooting for part two.

"When I watched the film, I know that it has gone wrong here, then I'm thinking, 'Okay, I'll have to rectify it in the second part'. So it's still a work in progress," he added.

The filmmaker also decoded his process of working on a story and how it differs from adapting a novel.

"If I decide to make a story around a particular group of people or a geographical scape, then I go there and see the people and the place. I work there for one or two years to understand the place and the people."

If the story doesn't work for him, then the filmmaker starts working on it all over again.

"This is a long process. Whereas a novelist or a story writer has done all the research for me and put it into the novel. He has condensed his life's work into few hundred pages or even less," he said.

Vetrimaaran, 48, also talked about why he decided to rope in actor Soori for the main role.

The actor was earlier known for comedic parts in many Tamil films.

"When I want to do a film with someone, then I need to understand what kind of person this actor is and that is very important, especially when you are putting an actor in a zone they are not used to. Ideally, I want them to be themselves in front of the camera. I don't want them to be someone else they are not from within. Soori comes across as a very simple person. Soori's personality seeped into the character when I was writing the script," the director said.

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