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Southern spice: Vadivelu returns in a dual role

The storm returns. After a two-and-a-half-year sabbatical, Madurai-born Tamil actor Vadivelu, who dabbled in politics in the interim, returns with Tamil film Tenali Raman.

The comedian plays a dual role: that of a king and of Tenali Raman, a court minister.

Inspired by the historical character Tenali Raman, (known as ‘vikadakavi’ [witty court poet] in the court of King Krishnadevaraya of the 16th century in Vijayanagaram), this film is directed by Yuvaraj Dayalan and is touted as a comedy.

Vadivelu had earlier played a dual role in Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi, a commercial success. It also won him a Filmfare award.

“It is a family entertainer,” said the actor. Thanking his producers, AGS Kalpathi Brothers, he revealed how several people had dissuaded the production house from taking up this project. “But they ignored it and went ahead. I am grateful to them.”

He said that a few heroines had declined the offer to act opposite him.

Meenakshi Dixit, a runner-up in Nachle Ve with Saroj Khan plays his love interest.

“I never revealed my true appearance to Meenakshi during the entire shooting of the film,” he smiled. “It was only on the day of the music launch ceremony that she saw me without my costume.”

Thenali Raman is Dayalan’s second film after Potta Potti.

Being a period film, huge sets replicating forts and palaces were built on a big budget under the guidance of art director Prabhakaran. The film was shot in Coutrallam, Acchangkoil and Puducherry. Other members of the cast include Radha Ravi Manobala and Mansour Ali Khan. Music is scored by D. Imman. Ramnath Shetty is the cinematographer.

Meenakshi Dixit on Vadivelu and ‘Tenali Raman’

Q. What drew you to Tenali Raman?

A. I think it was one of those intuitions, a decision made from the heart. Despite people advising me to apply my mind before signing the film, I went ahead, because it was a prestigious project. After landing on the sets, I concluded that I had made a wise decision. It was my first at doing a comedy; a full-fledged one with intense humorous situations around me. I enjoyed the challenge.

Q. How was it working with Vadivelu?

A. He is an institution by himself. Vadivelu sir often helped me improvise my shots. I learnt to work on small things that would reflect on screen as natural. It was a brilliant experience, I must say that this film prepared me in a way to work on my Bollywood film, P se PM tak, a Kundan Shah comedy.