World cinema saw a lot of director-actor combinations, right from De Niro and Scorcese to Di Caprio and Nolan. Even Tamil Cinema has had its fair share of legendary director-actor combinations that went on to make history in terms of box office collections and progressiveness. Vetri Maaran and Dhanush are definitely at the top of this list and have formed a symbiotic relationship with each other. They have amplified each other's careers not only on a Pan Indian level but to a level of world recognition. What is the secret behind this combination? What made them strike gold not once, not twice but 4 times consecutively? Following is my take on the same!
Vetri Maaran's storylines always need an actor who isn't afraid to mold himself into the storyline and become the desperate, revenge-needy character that he professes. A person who would put aside his image, personal ideologies, beliefs and disbeliefs to become the man on paper. Except for a handful of them in Indian Cinema, no one is willing to do this almost every single time and Dhanush is on the cream of the crop.
All 4 Vetri Maaran-Dhanush films have a different setting. An important facet of films by the same person in different settings is that he needs actors who are comfortable with and at the same time can pull off different accents, emotions and become a Roman in Rome. Be it going to Madurai in Aadukalam or becoming an urban working-class man in Polladhavan or an authentic North Chennaiite in Vada Chennai, Dhanush has been a man of more words and even more actions to Vetri Maaran.
One of the most defining aspects of a Vetri Maaran-Dhanush film is that the protagonist of the film is never a man of privilege. But at the same time, their poverty struck livelihood doesn't guide the story. It merely becomes a part of it. Dhanush's acting range and his history of roles in similar areas makes him do this with more ease than anyone else in Tamil cinema.
In extension to the long schedules, an incredible amount of pre and post-production time, and marketing mostly non-commercial films in the most commercial way possible is a producer's nightmare. This is where Dhanush came into the picture. The trust he had on Vetri Maaran after the revolution that Visaaranai created, made him agree to be the producer to an insanely ambitious project like Vada Chennai.
If you notice closely, all the Dhanush characters in a Vetri Maaran film have a similarity in spite of all the differences with the language, location, and romantic interests. Anger! This is always the cause of change in the course of the character's life. We’d like to believe that no one can play the role of an angry young man taking over and winning against a much bigger power with as much conviction as Dhanush can!
All these points are evidence enough to prove that Vetri Maaran and Dhanush are one of the best Director-Actor duos of our time. Both of them have time and again proved to the world that there is no bigger uniting force than one's passion to make good art. I wouldn't be exaggerating if I say that they have the potential to do to Tamil cinema what Bong Joon Ho did to the South Korean Film Industry - place the Industry on a pedestal high enough for the world to admire and appreciate our stories.