‘I can’t believe I’m doing a Priyadarshan film’
Udhayanidhi Stalin takes time out to discuss his upcoming projects, including this week’s release, Podhuvaga En Manasu Thangam
Udhayanidhi Stalin has no qualms about admitting that his heart lies in commercial cinema. At the same time, he remains open to doing films like Manithan. The actor is quite nervous about Podhuvaga En Manasu Thangam that’s hitting the screens this weekend, as it’s the first time he’s doing a film “with an outside producer.” The film, he says, has a social message. “It talks about the importance of villages in our country. I haven’t worked on a story set against the backdrop of a village,” he says.
He feels the expectations weighing down on him. “When it’s my production house, loss-o, profit-o ennoda poidum,” he says. “But doing a film for another producer is a great responsibility.” The film is the result of much thought. “Murali sir of Sri Thenandal Films and I took a lot of time to zero in on this script, which is inspired by incidents that happened in director Thalapathy Prabhu’s village. I think this nativity factor will really work in advantage of Podhuvaaga... Padam thiruvizha maari kalakala-nu irukkum.”
Udhayanidhi enjoyed shooting with Parthiepan, Soori, and Mayilsamy. “Parthiepan sir plays a negative character in this film. We know how witty he is, right? And he has been given a lot of freedom to improvise,” he says.
Shooting for this film also made him feel a bit of nostalgia. “When I was shooting in Theni, I got reminded of my mother’s village, Thiruvenkadu. It felt nice being away from the city for sixty days, and being insulated from urban issues like traffic and pollution,” he says.
The actor is all praise for his co-star Nivetha Pethuraj. “Heroines generally don’t come in for dance rehearsals. But she was there from day one. I attend rehearsals, as dancing doesn’t come naturally to me. But she was part of them too, and that was new for me,” he says.
“In Dharmapuri, my native place, we have a tradition of moving a goddess from her porantha veedu to puguntha veedu. This is the crux of my film. With globalisation influencing even our villages, people are moving away to cities and don’t have any attachment towards their lands. My hero is someone who loves his village and will go to any extent for its well-being.
Meanwhile, we have Parthiepan, who plays a bigwig who loves to be the centre of attention. His is a strong role and I needed someone like him to pull it off. I had to put aside the fact that he himself is a director, to avoid being intimidated by his directorial ability. Their face-off is what the film is about. Soori promised me that he would be a part of my film no matter when I do it. So when I wrote the story, I had him in mind when scripting his character of Tiger Pandi.”
- Gopinath Rajendran
Meanwhile, Udhayanidhi is also done shooting for Gaurav Narayanan’s Ippadai Vellum. “It’s a commercial crime-comedy set in the city. I play a software engineer. How I use my mind to accomplish some seemingly impossible things is the story. Lyca is producing this,” he says.
But the big one is Priyadarshan’s next in Tamil and the remake of Malayalam super hit, Maheshinte Prathikaaram. Udhayanidhi has already begun shooting for the film. “Priyadarshan takes his time to do research about the films he works on. This film will be a perfect example of such meticulous work,” says the actor.
Priyadarshan called him out of the blue. “I had met him previously, but never thought he’d offer me a film. He simply gave me a CD of Maheshinte Prathikaaram, and said he was going to remake it in Tamil,” he says. “I still can’t believe that I am acting under his direction. He told me he had never seen any of my films. I replied that maybe that’s why he approached me,” he laughs.
Udhayanidhi feels that Priyadarshan will transform him as an actor. “I have had to unlearn everything I learned since my first film. I needed a director like him. Malayalam films are generally slow-paced, but Priyan sir has changed the script to suit our audiences. I am excited about joining the next schedule of the film from August 12,” he says.
The actor considered making Manithan-2, but he doesn’t see it happening. “The film wasn’t commercially successful, but fetched me a good name. I want to do films like Saravanan Irukka Bayamaen, which have no story, but I also want to do films like Manithan. I have begun working for other banners. Let’s see what the future has in store for me,” he says.