Kodi (2016), directed by RS Durai Senthilkumar, was the first time Dhanush played dual roles. The film turned out to be successful. Senthilkumar seems to have a fascination for the double role. Once again, he is back with Pattas, starring Dhanush in the lead, which is hitting screens today. The director tells indianexpress.com, “I have known Dhanush sir for a while. He is extremely committed to whatever he does. We were able to achieve commercial success with Kodi. Hopefully, the same happens with Pattas.”
In the film, the actor plays a father-son duo. Further, Senthilkumar says, “Dhanush sir and I share a great comfort level. I know how he works and how he thinks,” insisting how it is necessary to establish the trust between a hero and a director. After a pause, the director assures Pattas will be double delight for Dhanush fans, adding, “Besides the entertainment value, we have attempted to tell an inspiring story.”
Pattas marks the reunion of Sneha and Dhanush after Selvaraghavan’s Pudupettai (2006). “The story of Pattas revolves around Adimurai—a form of ancient martial arts that existed before Kalaripayattu. It was extensively practised by the Cholas and Pandiyas,” RS Durai Senthilkumar states. Originally, he had penned an action entertainer for Dhanush that focused on kickboxing. Since Senthilkumar felt it was a “western sport”, he reworked the script, researched more and finally came up with something that was “rooted in Tamil culture and tradition.”
Writing a double role film has its share of challenges and disadvantages—especially when they aren’t sequels, admits the director. “The most important aspect is to convince the audience that the two characters are different people, and not the same person. An actor should be able to display significant changes in their mannerisms and dialogue delivery. The responsibility lies beyond sporting different looks. You need to make the audience buy into the theme of the film, too,” he elaborates.
Bankrolled by Sathya Jyothi Films, Pattas also stars Nasser, Mehreen Pirzada, Naveen Chandra and Munishkanth Ramdoss in key roles. “Pattas will be different from Kodi. When you have a powerhouse talent like Dhanush sir around, everything becomes possible. As an actor, I am sure it must have been exciting for him to etch out two contrasting shades of characters. While directing, I witnessed Dhanush sir displaying a gamut of emotions for the father role,” RS Durai Senthilkumar said.
The Tamil film industry is still not tired of this double whammy. A senior producer asserts, “Though double roles have been common since the days of MGR and Sivaji Ganesan, PU Chinnappa was the first Tamil actor to have pulled off a dual role (in Uthama Puthiran that was released in 1940).” He adds, “The double role around the 60s and 70s automatically meant ‘a minimum guarantee’, if not a blockbuster. Every ‘commercial’ actor has managed to do the two-in-one number at some point. This is to emphasise they have ‘arrived’.”
A city-based distributor explains why the double role is considered a safe bet for producers. “From MGR’s Nadodi Mannan (1958), Sivaji Ganesan’s Gouravam (1973), Rajinikanth’s Netrikkan (1981), Kamal Haasan’s Indian (1996) to Ajith’s Vaali (1999), Suriya’s Vaaranam Aayiram (2008) and Vijay’s Bigil (2019)—mostly the evergreen hits have been dual role subjects. Perhaps, the ‘contrast factor’ is the reason it attracts crowds to theatres,” he smiles.
Another producer observes, “not all double role subjects work in favour of the actors”. He cites the failure of Azhagiya Tamil Magan (2007), Maattrraan (2012), Nimirndhu Nil (2014), Tenaliraman (2014), Lingaa (2014) as examples. “Ultimately, everything boils down to the storytelling because the regular cliches have been done to death—the father-son angle, identical twins put in extreme situations, lookalikes leading to confusion, and so on. If the same masala formula is used, no star can save the script,” he concludes.