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Thalaimai Seyalagam director Vasanthabalan Interview: We have stories written for next two seasons as well, never shot any of my films in such short span of time

Director Vasanthabalan opens about his recent and first web series Thalaimai Seyalagam, making OTT debut, writing grey characters and more 

Thalaimai Seyalagam director Vasanthabalan Interview: We have stories written for next two seasons as well, never shot any of my films in such short span of time
Vasanthabalan; Thalaimai Seyalagam

Last Updated: 09.19 AM, May 17, 2024


Preparing to ask questions to director Vasanthabalan was different, to that of other directors. While most filmmakers seem to have a particular signature style, be in the topics they browse through, messages that they want to convey, and even the type of frames and music they employ, Vasanthabalan’s body of work cannot be boxed into one category. Instead, it was that of an actor’s, whose penchant for versatility is the mark of their quality. 

Vasanthabalan debut with a romantic drama Album, soon was followed by National Film Award-winning drama film Veyil, a path-breaking Angaadi Theru, and periodic revolt drama Kaaviya Thalaivan. Throw in his off-beat outings like Aneethi, Jail and Aravaan, Vasanthabalan's filmography makes it delightfully hard to draw a pattern out of it. And at this juncture comes Thalaimai Seyalagam, a political drama series that dropped on ZEE5 on Friday.

“I was concrete that I did not want to be boxed within one genre or that I am known for only certain type of films. I tend to get bored if I am doing the same sort of things. I even lose interest if I shoot in the same locations, so when it comes to stories and genres, they should be something that I discover and find about it. When I begin exploring and piques interest and suspense, it keeps me hooked on to it and that is what drives me till date. Every project of mine should be a learning process for me,” Vasanthabalan says.

However, what seems to be that one thread which connects Vasathabalan’s films is that of the working class. His films talked about the trials and tribulations, their revolt and resilience against the power. But with Thalaimai Seyalagam, the director seems to have broken this as well, and turned his lens towards a political party who rose through the support of commoners, and that of its working behind the closed doors.

About Thalaimai Seyalagam

“I merely worked around the premise of the story, which is about a CM getting involved in a scandal and the struggles he goes through until the judgement day. I wanted to show him as a normal human being, as a father, grandfather, uncle, and husband. I wanted to show the struggles and conflicts he faces. If you see in a conference meeting scene between the lobbyists and other party members, he is not allowed to speak at all until he is filled with frustration and gives up. I have gone through his emotions. He may not like to celebrate his birthday, but he has to receive bouquets with a smile. The decisions in his family are taken without his consent and yet he must struggle to get heard. To show these nuances was my primary motive,” the director explains.


Thalaimai Seyalagam has a set of characters and its own arcs. Be it the brain drain shown through Maya (Sarah Black), Amudhavalli’s (Ramya Nambeesan) grey-shaded character, and even CM Arunachalam’s more being caught between the tussles within his own party and that of a 17-year-old corruption court case, the series format largely helps the filmmaker to set a sprawling base to incorporate arcs. He adds, “Web series warrants for different type of writing from that of films. a film might have only one interval and climax, but this series is eight episodes longs, which needs multiple intervals and climaxes. Like how short film, pilot film, biography, anthology, documentary, docu-fictions are different, series all together needs a different writing. This story was specifically written for the series format. We have seen many series so far as well.”

Exploring grey characters

On exploring grey-shaded characters, Vasanthabalan says that life offers grey-tinted characters in real life as well and continues, “All of us are like that. We may portray to be good, but we may be different to other. Say, you act kind with your boss but treat your house help in a bad way. We choose on whom to show our goodness and badness. And secondly, good and bad depends on the way we see it. For example, if we say CM had indulged in corruption for the people’s goodness, he will suddenly become a good man. This is how the world perceives. I think to deal with grey characters is the toughest in life.”

While the first season ends on rather mysterious note, with questions lingering on a certain character and its past, Vasanthabalan reveals that he has story written for next two seasons which will be taken forward based on the reception received for the first part.

Talking about Kishore who headlines the film, Vasanthabalan calls him an underrated actor and his full capacity has not yet been exploited wholly so far. “His diction, body language, pronunciation and acting, are some things I was amazed by on the sets. He has carried out the role with nuance and excellency. When a director gets good actors, all you need to do is just roll the camera and leave them to do what they want. With regards to this web series, each artist gave their best and keep besting each other,” the director adds. “Writers and directors can only write the series, but it is the actors through whom we can get the real accolades from public, because they are the ones who execute it.”

One highlight of the series is how it packs punches within one-liners and talking about this, Vasanthabalan says that audience off late are not into melodrama. “We have talked about certain philosophies and while talking about this, we did not want the audience to get bored. Going as subtle as possible was the key to us. We were careful about not going too preachy,” he adds.

Concluding our conversation, Vasanthabalan signs off, “We have never shot any of my films in such a short span of time. We were able to pull off a web series within 65 days of shoot. That has given me immense confidence.”

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