Director Vijay's long-awaited Diya, a psychological horror thriller featuring Sai Pallavi (of Premam fame) in her Tamil debut, is slated for release this week. Amidst the never-ending debate on pro-life and pro-choice, this film will touch upon the issue of abortion and explore the relationship between a mother and her unborn child. In this exclusive chat with Firstpost, Vijay opens up on making a sensitive film, roping in Sai Pallavi to play a mother and why he believes Diya will talk about respecting a woman's choice.
Diya will be Vijay's first attempt at making a full-length woman-centric film. Talking about the inspiration behind the film and the idea, he said: "It's been a long-time desire of mine to make a film on a social cause. I wrote the script of Diya way back in 2012 after I came across a survey that over 7 million abortions take place in a year. Over a staggering 50 percent of these abortions are unsafe. I was absolutely shocked when I read this and I wanted to address this issue through a story. That's how the idea of Diya was born."
Vijay was hell-bent on roping in Sai Pallavi after being impressed with her performances in Premam and Kali. "Even before I approached her, I was confident that she could pull it off. It's quite an intense role but she made it look so easy. Pallavi has the maturity to portray any character and that's why I didn't mind offering her a mother's role," said Vijay, who describes Diya as a very sensitive film. "The film explores the bond between a mother and her unborn daughter. It's a sensitive film because it talks about a topic we rarely discuss. In most cases of abortions, women are forced by their partners or families. Nobody is interested in a woman's choice. As a film, Diya will talk about the need to respect a woman's choice."
After missing out on making her Tamil debut on two occasions in the past, Sai Pallavi is being launched in Kollywood in Diya. Mani Ratnam's Kaatru Veliyidai and Vikram's Sketch " two films that were supposed to launch her in Tamil " did not work out as planned. Vijay says he can't take the credit of launching her as she's already widely known in Tamil Nadu. "Thanks to Premam, audiences already are familiar with Pallavi. I'm sure they're going to love her performance in Diya. I believe this would be a long-remembered film in her career."
Pallavi has dubbed in her own voice in Diya, and Vijay says it has enhanced her performance. "She came forward to dub on her own. I didn't even ask her. Dubbing has enhanced her role multiple times." The film also stars Telugu actor Naga Shaurya in a crucial role. It has been dubbed in Telugu as Kanam and has a simultaneous release on Friday.
Vijay's next release would be a dance-based Tamil film Lakshmi. The film reunites him with actor-filmmaker Prabhudheva after horror-comedy Devi, which also released in Hindi as Tutak Tutak Tutiya. Vijay said that it was a pleasure working with Prabhudeva again. "This is my second film with him. He's known as a dancing legend but what people really don't know about him is that he has great script sense, and there's so much I learnt from him while working on this project."
Vijay had a grand time working with kids in the project. "We auditioned kids from all over India. We had actors from Assam, Aurangabad, Maharashtra and even Kolkata. Ditya Bhande, who plays the titular role, has a long way to go. I'm sure audiences will love all their performances." Also starring Aishwarya Rajesh, Karunakaran and Salman Yusuf Khan, Lakshmi has been produced by Prateek Chakravorty and Shruti Nallappa.