Actor and comedian Vadivelu won the best actor award for Maamannan at the Chennai International Film Festival. Popularly referred to as ‘Vaigai Puyal’ (Vaigai storm), the actor dedicated the award to the film’s director Mari Selvaraj during the ceremony held on December 21. Maamannan, also starring actor-politician Udhayanidhi Stalin, released earlier this year and received critical acclaim. The film marked the third consecutive success for anti-caste filmmaker Mari Selvaraj who envisioned Maamannan as a counter to the cult classic, but casteist, Thevar Magan (1992) which had also featured Vadivelu. In Maamannan, Vadivelu plays a Dalit MLA from a reserved constituency in Salem and Udhayanidhi essayed the role of his son, a martial artist and anti-caste activist.
Accepting the award, Vadivelu said, “More than it belongs to me, this victory belongs to Mari Selvaraj. He was an intellectual from a young age. He has talked about the struggles he faced as a child and he brings all of that to each scene.” The actor added, “I am proud and happy about how far Maamannan has reached. The director has shown his own pain and the pain of the poor. I am extremely proud that this story has received this award. This is not my award, it is Mari Selvaraj’s. It is Udhayanidhi and the production company’s award. It is your [fans] award.”
Vadivelu also described the challenges of pulling off a serious role as his in Maamannan despite predominantly being a comedy actor. In his speech, referring to several key scenes from the film, he said how the scene would have wrongly come off as comic if he had slipped into the gestures or reactions widely associated with his brand of humour. Regaling the audiences, Vadivelu also shared funny incidents that happened in between shooting serious sequences and how the film’s music director AR Rahman had elevated the scenes with his compositions.
He also spoke about how many of his popular dialogues were widely used in memes and Instagram Reels. “I do not even remember what I had in mind when I did those scenes. I didn’t imagine at that time that in the future such technology would take them to another level in this manner. It makes me very happy,” he said.
Watch: Mari Selvaraj interview on Maamannan | Thevar Magan | Vadivelu | Fahadh | Udhayanidhi