'For once, I don't have to worry about profit'
Udhayanidhi Stalin thinks that this week’s release, Ippadai Vellum, will be a turning point in his career
Actors often have one film that they can pinpoint as the one which made all the difference. Udhayanidhi Stalin thinks Ippadai Vellum will be that film. It’s an action thriller, but with a love track included to make the script ‘commercially viable’. "Director Gaurav Narayanan was so animated in narrating the story that he broke a table and a couple of glasses. It’s an intense story, and I’m glad we have been able to translate that to the screen," Udhay says.
Udhay connected with Gaurav when he called to convey his good wishes about the director’s second film, Sigaram Thodu. “He then told me that he’d narrate a story to me in a year. And he stuck to his promise,” says the actor, who plays a software engineer in the film. It’s also the first time that the actor wears glasses for a role. “Periya difference dhane idhu?" he laughs.
On a serious note, Udhay thinks of himself as an obedient actor. "I always faithfully listen to my director’s instructions. That's the best favour any actor can do for his director."
The story of Ippadai Vellum happens over a 48-hour period. "There’s also a lot of comedy in the film. Naraiya odinen, kadi vaanginen, adi vaanginen. And mostly, it happened in the sequences featuring Daniel Balaji and me. One fight sequence with Daniel Balaji took us three days to shoot,” he says. The film was shot in 70 days in and around Chennai, Puducherry, and Bengaluru. “We have also shot a song in Oman, a country no other film crew has shot at yet. At least, so I was told. We danced at 45 degrees celsius." There’s another song — ‘chase song’, he calls it — that he’s excited about. "I run and run throughout the song, and it was a lot of fun shooting for it."
A thriller, Ippadai Vellum naturally has its share of action sequences. "We had Dhilip Subbarayan, the stunt choreographer, helping us out for about 50 days. All the fight scenes are conceived to be very real, like in Bala sir's projects."
He thinks the other members of the cast are perfect. Manjima Mohan, the heroine, was to work on another project with Udhay. "But that got shelved, and since we had her dates, we utilised them for Ippadai Vellum. We thought she was apt for the part," he says. Radikaa plays Udhay's mother in the film. "It’s a small but powerful role. It required that she drive a bus in Tiruvannamalai!" he says. "I know her from my childhood. She would often drop by thaatha's Gopalapuram residence. I was quite nervous to be acting with her. She’d never mince words if she saw me not performing well."
Much like the fight sequences, the comedy is organically conceived too. "Soori’s character has a parallel story that will run alongside mine. Our characters meet only during the interval block. In that sense, it isn't your usual Soori-as-a-hero’s-friend film. He is a solid part of the script, and plays a dubbing artiste."
Up next, Udhay is teaming up with PS Mithran of Irumbu Thirai fame. He'll be shooting from the first week of January for this untitled film produced by Sri Thenandal Studios.
Udhay doesn't want to talk much about his other film, Priyadarshan's Nimir, which is almost ready for release. "Priyan sir moulded me the way he wanted to. We shot only for 38 days, and this was quite new for me. Everything was well-planned and executed. I've huge regards for him!"
He’s relieved that he’s not producing Ippadai Vellum. “For once, I don't have to think about things like profit and screen count. I could simply come to the sets and focus on acting."
As the conversation comes to an end, I ask him about a recent interview in which Udhay had mentioned that as there were no controversial dialogues in his film, Ippadai Vellum could’t get free publicity from BJP leaders, like Mersal did. BJP leader Raja had tweeted in response, "Even if we help, the film wouldn't run. No use." Udhay laughs. "Such comments don't affect me anymore. You shouldn't take people seriously. You just laugh at the comment, and move on."