Helmed by Tamil director Anand Shankar, NOTA marks the Tamil debut of Telugu actor Vijay Deverakonda.
With a title like that — NOTA (None of the Above) is an option offered in the Indian ballot box — Shankar explores a political drama.
“I definitely wanted to shift genres after two films,” said Shankar, who made an impressive debut with the slick action film Arima Nambi. His second Irumugan was an interesting science thriller with Vikram in dual roles.
“There is a void in Tamil cinema with respect to political dramas. What comes to mind is Mudhalvan made so many years ago,” Shankar said, referring to the 1999 political thriller.
NOTA has been filmed in Tamil and Telugu, and was written by Shankar along with scriptwriter Shan Karuppasamy. Devarkonda plays Varun, an urban man who has come back home from abroad.
“He is a crazy and irresponsible kind of person. What happens when such a guy is thrown into a political arena? What does he do? How does he understand the nuances of politics?” Shankar asks.
The trailers appear to reflect present day’s political situation.
The dialogue — “All areas are full, if we open the shutters [of the dam] now, half of the city will be underwater” — accompanying the visual of heavy rains, is reminiscent of the 2015 Chennai floods.
Shankar’s canvas is large and includes stalwarts Nasser, Sathyaraj and MS Bhaskar, however he is mum about their roles.
In the trailer when Deverakonda’s character tells Sathyaraj that he does not have any idea of politics nor experience, Sathyaraj suggests he approach it like a video game and play it starting from the last level.
Mehreen Pirzada plays a journalist, while Yaashika Anand is Varun’s friend, and Sanchana Natarajan (of the web series As I’m Suffering From Kadhal) is a politician in the story. NOTA was shot in Chennai and Hyderabad.
“The intention is not to target anyone,” added Shankar. “NOTA is an intense story and the working experience was fantastic. What I visualised while writing turned out even better with veterans like Nasser, Sathyaraj and Bhasker. They added their own elements.”
Praising Devarkonda on his dedication to the role, Shankar said that he was impressed with his Telugu films Pelli Choopulu and Arjun Reddy. When he first narrated the story, Devarkonda was initially apprehensive about doing a fully Tamil film.
“An hour later, he called me to say that he was keen,” said Shankar.
Devarkonda has dubbed for himself in the Tamil version of the film.
NOTA, produced by Studio Green, releases in the UAE on October 5.