Vijay Devarakonda on Kollywood debut, NOTA: I want to conquer the hearts of Tamil audiences

Raja Sekar

October 01, 2018 14:16:54 IST

While interacting with the media in Chennai for his debut Tamil film NOTA, Vijay Devarakonda said: “At the launch event of NOTA, I felt difficult to even speak one word in Tamil. As I had planned to start my speech with Thirukkural, I kept practicing it throughout the event. But today, I stand in front of you with a job well done. I have witnessed some mad performances from my co-actors Sathyaraj sir, Nassar sir, MS Baskar. It’s an honour to work with all these gentlemen. The time is now and I made my strike, not to win the world but to conquer the hearts of Tamil people. I don’t know whether you will enjoy the film but you will experience a superb political thriller. Enough said, it’s time to meet you all in theaters at Tamil Nadu, Telugu states, Kerala, Karnataka and rest of the world on 5 October."

Vijay Devarakonda in a promotional still from NOTA. Image via Twitter

Vijay Devarakonda in a promotional still from NOTA. Image via Twitter

The film’s director Anand Shankar started his speech by saying, “Once I locked the script of NOTA with my writer Shan, we knew that the film needed a performance-oriented hero and at the same time, he should not be worried much about other senior actors who have important roles in the film. Coincidentally, I happened to watch Arjun Reddy in theaters and later saw Vijay’s Pelli Choopulu and was stunned by his versatile performance in these two films. Only then, I decided to launch him in Tamil because these days there is no big wall between Kollywood and Tollywood. Audiences here in Tamil enjoy watching Telugu films so I thought why not make a straight Tamil film with Vijay Devarakonda? Not many producers were willing to bankroll films with an unknown hero but Gnanavel understood and predicted that Vijay will become a big star in both Tamil and Telugu. Gnanavel sir actually set an appointment for me with Vijay."

“To be honest, Vijay wasn’t excited to do a Tamil film because, at that point, he signed five to six films in Telugu and people in the industry also told me that he is very choosy about his projects. When I narrated the story of NOTA, he patiently listened but I couldn’t guess whether he liked the script or not. Later, when I reached back to my room in Hyderabad, Vijay called me and said that he liked the script and also asked for a detailed narration. From there, things fell in place. Now, his star status is helping at the box office," added Anand Shankar who had directed two super hit films Arima Nambi and Iru Mugan in Tamil.

“As an assistant director I had worked with Ranbir Kapoor in Anjaana Anjaani,  Suriya in 7aum Arivu, Vijay in Thuppakki and as a director, I made films with Vikram and Vikram Prabhu but never saw a crazy passionate performer like Vijay Devarakonda in my career. Vijay is a big star in Tollywood so there is no need for him to do a Tamil film but he took up the challenge and learned his own lines. One thing which kept running in my mind is that no one should point fingers at me and say that I have offered an ordinary character without much scope to perform for an amazing performer like Vijay. We actually hired a tutor and Vijay learned the nuances of Tamil language. While watching the film, it would be impossible to find any flaw in the lip sync of Vijay," said the director who explained that he always wanted to do a drama film. “I had no other option left but to make two action thrillers with songs and fight sequences to get proper heroes and producers. Those two films went on to become hits and now, with NOTA, I made a political drama with ensemble actors. Had I approached producers with a drama genre in my first film, they wouldn’t have given appointment even for a story narration," he added.

Talking about Sathyaraj, MS Baskar, and Nassar, Anand said: “Sathyaraj sir’s character is like an anchor for the film. As we only wanted less number of dates from him, Sathyaraj sir wasn’t excited but after listening to the script, he readily came on board. As a fan, I enjoyed watching Nassar sir’s commendable performance and MS Baskar’s subtle act in the film. People in the post-production department are telling me that Sanjana, who plays a politician in the film, has given a performance on par with the veterans”.

Anand Shankar also revealed that the film’s composer Sam CS of Vikram Vedha fame used Macedonian musical orchestra for the background score of NOTA. “Sitting in his studio in Chennai, Sam is extracting work from musicians in Macedonia. His work in the background score department has elevated the film." Anand also showered praise on his editor Raymond Derrick Crasta and cinematographer Santhana Krishnan of Baaghi 2 fame. “I approached Raymond Derrick Crasta after being impressed with his editing pattern in Aruvi. I didn’t argue much with Raymond and he has done an impressive job. My DOP Santhana has given the political drama mood to the film and the visual quality looks grand. Thanks to such a hard-working team and amazing performers, I completed the film in just 48 days."

Sathyaraj heaped praise on Vijay for his dedication in learning the Tamil language. “I know how difficult it is to dub our lines in an unknown language. When I worked with Shankar in Nanban, he wanted to dub my lines in Telugu language but only after entering into the dubbing studio, came to know that it is next to impossible. But being a passionate actor, Vijay has successfully delivered his Tamil lines even at the shooting spot and everyone should appreciate him for his effort. Working in NOTA was quite easy for me because Anand has given me a look which is almost similar to how I appear in real life. In almost all my films including Baahubali, I only performed with a wig to cover my head, beard, and moustache. In Baahubali, I felt difficult to act in the dusty war field setup because of the additional makeup but NOTA is a liberating experience. I hope this film turns out to be a big hit so that the sentimental film industry would offer me more roles without the wig and fake beard," said Sathyaraj on a lighter note.

Veteran actor Nassar said: “When I worked with Anand Shankar in Iru Mugan, he asked me to not deliver the dialogues louder and it was quite difficult for me but in NOTA, my character is louder and expressive. One thing I noticed in Vijay is that he is a hard-working actor and has a great memory power. At the shooting spot, he by-hearts all his lines and delivers them with perfection”.

NOTA is all set to release on 5 October in Tamil and Telugu.

Updated Date: Oct 01, 2018 14:16 PM