Vetri Maaran discusses about 'Vada Chennai'

Filmmaker Vetri Maaran sat down with a bunch of assistant directors to discuss his latest film Vada Chennai

Updated - November 14, 2018 05:16 pm IST

Published - November 14, 2018 02:11 pm IST

The densely-packed room at Koogai Thiraipada Iyakkam, Valasaravakkam, was filled with a horde of aspiring directors, who eagerly waited for filmmaker Vetri Maaran’s arrival. The number of assistants assembled at the venue was moderately larger than usual, since the purpose of the gathering was to critique the gangster-drama Vada Chennai .

Writer-novelist Karan Karki, who began the session expressing his distress over the lack of distinguished critics, was a little too harsh on Vada Chennai . “Be it literature or cinema, there’s the absence of strong criticism here,” he said. Karan Karki rather set the tone for the discussion that addressed various issues pertaining to cinema. Despite its critical acclaim, Vada Chennai spawned heated debates over its representation of people living in North Chennai, the liberal usage of expletives, its gut-wrenching violence and so on. Observing that Chennai has always been misrepresented in films, Karki felt that only recently did filmmakers start writing realistic stories about the city. Since its release, the film received mixed reactions for the scenes that had women using cuss words. Weighing in on a similar opinion, Karki said he was disappointed by the way women were portrayed in the film. “A woman character swears in the first scene itself. Perhaps, one out of 10 women may swear. But when you make a film about one particular sect, it gives a misconception about the entire community,” he said.

Appreciating Vetri Maaran for the meticulous research that went into the script, Karki admitted that Vada Chennai was a rare film that depicted how an actual prison should be. At the same time, Karki wasn’t quite convinced by how certain scenes were written . “For instance, the looting scene wasn’t properly staged. Of course, it warrants the romance between the hero and heroine. But people usually don’t loot at a nearby area,” he said, adding, “There’s a perception that North Chennai is the birthplace for gangsters. After watching it, I thought: Why would a socially-conscious filmmaker like Vetri Maaran pack all the controversies in a single film?”

Writer Suguna Diwakar was amused by the politics around the Vijay-starrer Sarkar for he wondered why politicians hadn’t objected to Vada Chennai , which, according to him, was critical of both the DMK and AIADMK. He opined that Vada Chennai was perhaps the first instance where a filmmaker boldly included the names of political parties. “ Merku Thodarchi Malai spoke about CPI (M). But why are filmmakers wary of mentioning party names? Why not write a love story between party cadres belonging to the two leading parties?” Diwakar pointed out the hypocrisy in films, especially when it involves women uttering swear words. “It’s acceptable for a man to swear on the screen. This film wouldn’t have created a controversy had it had women using expletives in English,” he added.

Producer G Dhananjayan, on the other hand, felt that Vada Chennai , despite a gangster film, had beautiful scenes written around Anbu and Padma. “We’ve had period films in the past. But it had a vast portrayal of different time frames,” he said.

Vetri Maaran carefully listened to the arguments put forth by the guests. When it was time for his speech, everybody was hoping for a justification from the director. However, he calmly said, “Everything has been said about Vada Chennai . I’ve nothing else to add.” Vetri Maaran wasn’t being modest, but earnest. Even to the person who interrupted the filmmaker halfway through the session, condemning him for making an insensitive film.

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