From Pollathavan to Vada Chennai, what makes the Dhanush-Vetrimaaran collaboration click

Haricharan Pudipeddi

Nov,16 2017 10:28:51 IST

Last week, Dhanush tweeted a picture from the sets of his upcoming Tamil film Vada Chennai and wrote, “Ten years ago, this day Pollathavan released. Our journey (with filmmaker Vetrimaaran and cinematographer Velraj) continues as a team to explore and learn together (sic).”

The tweet made me wonder what makes Dhanush and Vetrimaaran, known for their long-standing relationship and films such as Pollathavan and Aadukalam, click as a pair as they seem to have not taken a single wrong step to date. Their collaboration — which includes their production ventures such as Kaaka Muttai and Visaaranai  has resulted in 11 national awards, four international honours and several regional awards as well.

In these years of having known each other, Dhanush has gone from an actor to a star, and let us add the word international to it as he awaits the release of his maiden Hollywood outing The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir. Vetrimaaran, on the other hand, continues to be a filmmaker of substance, making the kind films he truly believes in and even if it means going against the norm.

The National Award-winning filmmaker believes Dhanush has not changed as an individual. “As a person, he has not changed at all. However, Dhanush the actor has become the star now. He knows the distinction and that is why he chooses his projects smartly. He is much clearer now about the kind of films he should be doing. Earlier, it was only Dhanush and his scripts when you want to make a film with him but now it is the script, Dhanush and his fans,” Vetrimaaran said last year, when I met him soon after the release of his critically acclaimed film Visaaranai. He added that their mutual trust and respect has kept them going. “We also maintain the distance between each other and our relationship is purely professional.”

Elaborating more on the trust factor between Dhanush and Vetrimaaran, the latter’s erstwhile associate Manimaran said they have known each other for a very long time. “Even before Pollathavan, they first met on the sets of Balu Mahendra’s Adhu Oru Kanna Kaalam. Over the years, they’ve developed strong faith for each other which paved way to certain level of comfort. Vetri prefers working with Dhanush because he knows he will go to any extreme for the sake of a role. He sees him as an actor with no inhibitions and that is why he feels more comfortable to work with him.”

According to still photographer Selvam, who had worked on Pollathavan, Aadukalam and recently in Vada Chennai, there is great understanding between Dhanush and Vetrimaaran. “Both of them know what they exactly want from each other. You can have such clarity only when you fully understand the other person. They were supposed to work on a film before Vada Chennai and had even shot for five days but Vetri sir dropped it because he wanted to make Visaraanai, and Dhanush sir didn’t have any problem with it. Their relationship goes beyond films as I have seen them discuss about everything they like and read,” Selvam said, and added that rarely has he seen them arguing over anything.

Cinematographer Velraj concurs with Selvam’s point of view. Having seen Dhanush and Vetrimaaran work from close quarters, Velraj said they are always on the same wavelength. “It’s amazing the way they understand each other. It’s only become stronger over the years. When it comes to working, they complement each other quite well and it only comes because of the faith they have upon each other. Their trust has only strengthened their relationship and there’s absolutely no room for ego,” he said.

For Dhanush, too, it is sheer trust that works with Vetrimaaran. When I met him earlier this year for a chat a few days post the release of VIP 2, he said, “I went against the advice of so many industry bigwigs and worked in Pollathavan with him because I trusted him. The film worked and it proved everybody else wrong. He has the same level of trust for me. I know he will do a great film no matter what and that’s the faith that keeps us going.” Dhanush trusts Vetrimaaran so much that he would even work with him without a script. “I trust him blindly. We share a great rapport. He knows his craft well and if something comes from Vetri, I know I can do it,” he said in a chat show to filmmaker Gautham Vasudev Menon last year.

Dhanush and Vetrimaaran are currently working on Vada Chennai, a trilogy, which is set in the ‘80s and chronicles 30 years in the life of a gangster. Talking about the film, in Gautham’s chat show, Dhanush said, “I usually don’t praise my own film but I can definitely say Vada Chennai will be a cult film. It’ll set a new benchmark for gangster films in Tamil industry."

Updated Date: Nov 16, 2017 10:28 AM