Udhayanidhi Stalin: I try to avoid sexism in my films

Latha Srinivasan

May,12 2017 11:57 04 IST

He comes from a family of politicians, but producing and acting in films is what makes him tick. Udhayanidhi Stalin, the grandson of former Tamil Nadu chief minister Dr M Karunanidhi, is looking forward to his film Saravanan Irukka Bayamaen that hits theatres on Friday, 12 May. Speaking to Firstpost from Dubai, where he’s attending the movie’s premiere, Udhayanidhi gives us the lowdown on the film and more. Edited excerpts from the interview:

It’s quite brave of you to release your film now with Baahubali 2 doing so well.

My film is a completely different genre as compared to Baahubali 2. Saravanan Irukka Bayamaen is a comedy and people will be entertained thoroughly. It’s like I have a solo release because no other Tamil films are releasing on May 12!

Tell us about director Ezhil’s Saravanan Irukka Bayamen.

This movie, like I said, is a comedy, a family entertainer and it’s complete Ezhil film. He has roped in Soori and unlike my other films where I have a comedian as a friend, in this film Soori is not my friend. In fact, there’s a large ensemble of actors who are comedians like Robo Shankar, Manobala, Mansoor Ali Khan, Madhan Bob, and Yogi Babu. All the credits and debits go to Ezhil. [Laughs] I kept asking Ezhil where does this story take place and he told me that it takes place wherever the audience is watching the film!

Udhayanidhi Stalin and Regina Cassandra in a still from Saravanan Irukka Bayamaen

Udhayanidhi Stalin and Regina Cassandra in a still from Saravanan Irukka Bayamaen

Comedy seems to be your favourite genre.

Unlike my other films like OKOK or Nanbenda, this movie is not city-based. For the first time, I have done a story that takes place in a rural setting and it’s a completely commercial flick.

Santhanam has always been your partner-in-crime. How was it working with comedian Soori? 

Both of them are actually quite different. Santhanam is usually the hero’s friend and he pokes fun at the hero constantly. And in this film Soori not my friend – he’s the villain! Soori has a certain slang (Madurai) when he speaks, his body language is different and it’s slapstick comedy.

Regina Cassandra and you have paired up for the first time.

Regina has done many commercial films in Telugu but not in Tamil. This movie is her first complete commercial outing in Tamil. It was great fun working with her. She plays Thenmozhi and we’re constantly fighting with each other in the movie. It’s like watching Tom and Jerry. She’s wonderful in the song ‘Oorellaam Unnai Kandu’ and gave valuable inputs while shooting the song.

Is director Ezhil different from your other directors?

Yes! He is completely chilled out. In nearly every scene in the film, there are about 10 actors/comedians on screen. And what used to happen was that when the director shouted action, most of them used to mouth their own dialogues instead of what was given to them. It was hilarious. But Ezhil was never fazed by this because he believed that the movie will turn out well and it has.

Another important aspect is that among all the films I have produced, Ezhil is the only director (after Udhayanidhi’s wife Kiruthiga’s Vanakkam Chennai) to have completed the film within the budget allotted. He said he’d need 40 days to shoot and he completed the film in 39 days. I was very happy.

What did Ezhil say about your performance?

He didn’t say anything at all! That was my biggest problem. I got really worried after the first two days of shoot because he didn’t give me any feedback. He used to say action and not even cut. [Laughs] He won’t even ask for one more take – you need to fight with him to get another take. If I had doubts about my dialogue delivery, he’ll say, “It’s okay; we’ll adjust it during dubbing.”

Sexism in films is being widely spoken about now. What’s your opinion?

Personally, I think we should avoid sexism in films. Good films have been made without it. But unfortunately, the masses expect glamour in a film. That’s the conundrum for filmmakers I guess. I’m trying to avoid it in my films.

Published Date: May 12, 2017 11:57 AM | Updated Date: May 12, 2017 11:57 AM