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Initially planned Vada Chennai as a web-series, reveals Vetrimaaran

During his conversation at the International Film Festival of Kerala, the filmmaker revealed that the 2018 film was initially planned as a web-series, but plans changed after producer Dhanush expressed some doubts.

Photo: IFFK

Shriram Iyengar

Director Vetrimaaran revealed that he was planning to make a web-series on the prequel of the recent Dhanush-starrer, Vada Chennai (2018). "Why I chose the prequel of Vada Chennai into the web-series is that I initially wanted to make Vada Chennai as a series. I knew it was episodic. There are 5-6 episodes in it that I can see clearly," he said.

The filmmaker was speaking at the 'In Conversation' segment on the sidelines of the ongoing 23rd International Film Festival of Kerala (IFFK) in Trivandrum.

On being asked by Cinestaan.com about the decision to make his debut in the digital medium, Vetrimaaran said that initially he wanted to make Vada Chennai as a web-series but producer-actor Dhanush was not too keen on the idea. "If we had done that way, we would at least have 6-8 hours of very good footage. But then, when I started to make it back in 2013, Dhanush was not sure of how he could get back the money. There was no guarantee of what the returns would be for the kind of effort that we put in," he said. 

Remarking on the success of Netflix's Sacred Games, Vetrimaaran said, "I heard someone in the team say, 'Saif Ali Khan has acted for so many years in Hindi films. But it is now after Sacred Games that people have started recognising him internationally'," before adding, "Now the whole game has changed. If you want to get into the international market, all you have to do is make one very good web-series." 

The filmmaker pointed out that the greatest advantage a web-series has over a film is the 'liberty' to write. He said, "We are living in the golden age of screenwriting. When Dickens and Tolstoy and Dostoevsky were writing, they did not have to curtail themselves to 200-300 pages. Karamazov Brothers is 2000 pages, I think." 

The Aadukalam (2011) director added, "They did not have the fear of the editor cutting it out. When we start making a film, it is equivalent to a short story. You don't have space and liberty to explore a long novel." 

However, the filmmaker denied that digital platforms offer more freedom of expression. He said, "Freedom, especially in the Indian scenario, does not always mean you can say whatever you feel like saying. It is being able to express yourself rightly and in the right way. Definitely, because of the freedom available, we are likely to make some bad films on the digital platforms. But, we will also start making good stuff." 

"Of course, we have a budget restraint. We will not get the budget that we get for a film. It is hyped outside, but it is not true [laughs]. We don't get that type of budget at all. We get only 1/4th of the budget of a film. But you feel liberated writing for the series," he said.

Vetrimaaran's Vada Chennai is a trilogy based in the suburbs of North Chennai. The film's first part released in 2018, led by Dhanush. The director is currently working on the sequel to the film. He has already announced a prequel, which traces the life of the character Rajan. The prequel will be a web-series.

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