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Exclusive: Tamil filmmaker Vetrimaaran confirms working on a web-series 

In an exclusive interaction with us, the director of Vada Chennai confirmed that he has set his sights on the digital medium, and will be working on a web-series next. 

Shriram Iyengar

The final day of the 5th Indian Screenwriters Conference saw a passionate discussion on southern cinema by a panel led by directors Vetrimaaran, and filmmaker duo Pushkar-Gayathri.

Discussing topics, ranging from the dearth of screenwriters in Tamil cinema to rising censorship issues, the directors were outspoken and clear in their answers. After the conference, Cinestaan.com spoke with Vetrimaaran.

The director, who is currently awaiting the release of his upcoming film, Vada Chennai, starring Dhanush, was a little reticent. However, after we promised him there would be no questions on Vada Chennai or any political issue, he agreed for a quick conversation.

A key topic of discussion on the panel was the rise of the digital medium. Vetrimaaran had argued in favour of the rising freedom in style, narrative and technique that platforms like Netflix and Amazon offer to filmmakers. Incidentally, Vada Chennai is a trilogy that runs over a span of 35 years in the life of the suburbs of North Chennai. So, when we asked the filmmaker if he would have opted for the digital medium, the filmmaker promised that he is working towards that end.

"I am doing a series...a web-series. That’s happening, and that is what is going to hapen next. Whatever, happening with substance will be happening on the digital platform," he said.

Freedom of expression for the filmmakers remained one of Vetrimaaran's key emphasis points on the panel. To a question about justifying violence on screen from the audience, the filmmaker answered emphatically, "What bothers you? The violence on screen, or the violence happening daily on our streets, in our cities."

However, the filmmaker underlined that the freedom on the digital medium is not absolute. "It is a certain freedom. ‘Certain’ you have to put it in quotes, because you are not really free," the Polladhavan (2007) director said, adding, "Because you have to tell a story, which one particular digital platform said we can’t tell this story because we have certain restrictions."

With his upcoming film, Vada Chennai, Vetrimaaran returns to the story of an underdog trapped in vicious circumstances. The film combines the underworld-politics nexus as well as the story of an ordinary man's extraordinary struggle which have over time become signatures of Vetrimaaran's stories.

Speaking on that subject, the director said, "You keep repeating your story. You are just telling one story at different levels. I think I am trying to find myself through all my films. I don’t know when that will happen. Let’s see."

The film will see the director return with his long-time friend and partner, Dhanush, in the lead role. Their last film as director-actor was the National award winner, Aadukalam (2011). The partnership is one built on trust, said the director.

During the panel he revealed that when he began working on the story of Vada Chennai, back in 2003, Dhanush was among the first people he confided in. 15 years hence, the trust remains.

"It is all the same. It is basic trust. It has been 26 months since I started shooting this film [Vada Chennai], and I have yet to confirm the release date. Yet, he hasn’t asked me a question," Vetrimaaran said.

With the film not having a release date yet, it might be interesting to see what the director has planned up his sleeve.