Politician and actor Udhayanidhi Stalin, who was last seen in Mari Selvaraj’s Maamannan — which is touted to be his last film before he shifts his focus completely to politics — sat down with Film Companion for an interview. In this conversation with Krishna, the actor notes that political correctness and awareness evolve over time.
Explaining his statement, Udhayanidhi shares an incident from AR Murgadoss’ 7 Aum Arivu (2011), a Red Giant Movies production co-starring Suriya and Shruti Haasan. “There is a scene in the film that criticises Reservation (system in India) in the film. Later on, after watching the film, Suriya sir asked me to remove that scene. But I told him that it was just a small dialogue and retained it. That showed my lack of political knowledge.
"After reading a lot more about social justice, reservation, the history of my party (DMK) and others, my perspective has changed. It took me years to realise the importance of why Suriya sir asked me to remove that scene. Political awareness is something that keeps evolving. But I’ll not blame AR Murugadoss sir for this because he had a different point of view.”
Speaking about Maamannan and its politics, the actor elaborates that the film depicts the injustice and pain caused to one single community, without disregarding any other community. “In all of Mari Selvaraj’s films, he speaks about the pain of those belonging to a particular caste. Maamannan aims to portray that injustice and show that it needs to change.” Even though the film has been completed, it is a movie that will remain close to him, he adds. "Maamannan has had a great impact on me. Even when I am out on some political duty, certain scenes from the film keep travelling with me. Some shots and scenes are quite disturbing and are etched in my heart."
Speaking about filming, the actor adds that Mari’s technique of immediate editing of scenes helped actors with their process. “Mari Selvaraj shoots and edits the sequences immediately. In fact, he will show it to us to prepare us for our consecutive sequences. For example, he showed us a 15-minute sequence of Vadivelu sir and that scene had such a great impact on us. This helped us get into the film’s mood.”
Out of all the 15 films he’s acted in, Stalin can relate most to two characters. “I can connect my past self with Saravanan from Oru Kal Oru Kannadi, and now I can see myself in Veeran from Maamannan."