A. L. Vijay’s Thalaivaa starring Vijay is getting ready to hit the screens next month. Udhav Naig catches up with the filmmaker

Ahead of actor Vijay’s film Thalaivaa, one can’t help wondering if the A. L. Vijay-directed film has political undertones. Quiz the filmmaker about this, and he insists, “This film has nothing to do with politics. But it will have everything that the actor’s fans usually expect from his films. I have revealed the story in the trailer — it’s about a rich, soft-spoken youth (played by Vijay) with an interest in dance who gradually evolves as a leader.”

When one takes into account the fact that the film is set in the Tamil-speaking areas of Mumbai, it is hard to disassociate it with other iconic films that have used the city as the setting. Is this the ‘Baasha’ moment that Vijay fans have been waiting for? “The moment you write a script which has a protagonist turning into some sort of a leader, taking over from someone else, and, on top of it, set in Mumbai, it is difficult to avoid comparisons with films such as Nayagan. But, again, I assure you, it’s not similar in content.”

Yet, he says, it is not a non-Ilayathalapathy film either. In fact, the filmmaker insists that it is an out-and-out ‘entertainer’, very much like the other films of the actor. “Even before we started this project, Vijay told me that the film should have both his sensibilities and mine,” he says.

The filmmaker denies that Vijay was the obvious choice for the protagonist once he decided that the ‘boy growing into a leader” would be the crux. “I just knew the film needed a big star. I floated the idea to Vijay and he happened to like it. It was not written for him,” he says. How has Vijay contributed to the film? “Vijay is someone who strives to make the director happy at all times. He gives his undivided attention to everything the director says. He has performed remarkably well in a role in which he had to bring out the difference in body language and voice as the character undergoes a transition from a youth to a respected leader.”

What is director Vijay’s idea of a good leader? “A good leader is someone who constantly listens to the people. I don’t think anyone can become a leader. The people need to recognise one among them as a leader and that’s what I have explored in the film,” he says.

About his successful association with cinematographer Nirav Shah and music composer G.V. Prakash Kumar, the filmmaker says, “We are like a family. These are the people I turn to when I need feedback.”

With Thalaivaa getting ready for release next month, how confident does he feel about the film? “It has a good story and a great star. I think I have made a good film. Let’s wait and watch,” he signs off, smiling.