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'My father Rajinikanth didn't encourage me to become an actress'

Last updated on: April 10, 2014 18:34 IST

'My father Rajinikanth didn't encourage me to become an actress'

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Sonil Dedhia/Rediff.com in Mumbai

'My father, Rajinikanth, will be the same to you and to somebody else. He is the same to the biggest to the smallest person.'

'He is honest to himself and to what he does. He practices what he preaches.'

'I cannot comment on what separates him from his contemporaries but I believe he has his true identity and he is what he is.'

Superstar Rajinikanth's daughter Soundarya takes the first step out of his shadow. 

Being a star child can be tough because one has to meet a lot of expectations.

Being Rajinikanth’s child multiples that tenfold.

But the Superstar’s younger daughter Soundarya is ready to take up the challenge, with her directorial debut Kochadaiiyaan, an animation film that has never been seen in India before.

And of course, the film stars Rajinikanth.

Soundarya discusses her ambitious film, and also talks about her superstar father, and superstar brother-in-law, Dhanush. Sonil Dedhia listens in.

How was the experience of directing your father Rajinikanth in your first film?

It is every creative person’s dream to direct Rajinikanth in our country.

I feel privileged to do that in my first film. Kochadiiyaan is the first performance-capture film in India.

Usually, films like this take approximately five or six years but we have been over-ambitious and God has been kind and the film will release soon.

Please click Next to see more.


Image: Rajinikanth with his daughter Soundarya


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'My being his daughter did not influence Rajinikanth's decision to work in the film'

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Was it deliberate on your part to cast your father in your first film?

No, it just happened.

Director K S Ravikumar was going to start his film, Rana, but unfortunately my father fell ill. He decided to take his time before coming back to films.

Also, we did not want him to do undergo much physical strain. Rana was a period film and we didn’t want my father to wear heavy armour, get on horses or go out in the dust to shoot for the film.

We decided to start Kochadiiyaan, which is a prequel to Rana.

Did he agree to do the film like a doting father or did he take a professional approach?

My being his daughter did not influence his decision. He is very professional when it comes to work.

Only after he was fully convinced about the script and the technology did he agree to do the film.


Image: Rajinikanth in Kochadiiyaan


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'My father was already a superstar when I was born'

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How was it growing up as Rajinikanth’s daughter?

My father was an extremely busy actor. It was my mother who played a very important role where she balanced our upbringing.

Whatever free time my father had, my mother made sure we went on holidays.

My mother is the reason my sister and I have our heads on our shoulders.

When did you first realise that your father is a superstar?

My father was already a superstar when I was born.

Like any other star kid, my sister and I got a lot of attention. After a while, we got used to it.

My mother educated us about everything. She told us how big my father was in society and what people expected from us.

There were times when he had a curfew at home. We had to return home at 6 pm.


Image: Latha and Soundarya Rajinikanth


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'As star children, we faced a lot of expectations to become big like him'

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Did you have to be doubly careful about your moves?

Yes, because anything and everything we do gets blown out of proportion.

It’s tough to be a star child, or star for that matter, because whatever you do, it becomes something that people talk about.

Even if we were spotted with our friends outside, it would become big. So we had some tremendous advantages and some tremendous disadvantages as well.

As star children, we also faced a lot of expectations to become big like him.

He is the only superstar that’s worshipped as a god. What separates him from his contemporaries?

Each person has his own identity. He is worshipped because of the way he is and he is by far the most honest person you will ever meet.

He will be the same to you and to somebody else. He is the same to the biggest to the smallest person.

He is honest to himself and to what he does. He practices what he preaches.

I cannot comment on what separates him from his contemporaries but I believe he has his true identity and he is what he is.


Image: Rajinikanth with wife Latha

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'I loved my father in Chalbaaz and Hum'

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How much of his qualities have rubbed off on you?

I don’t know, but people say that there are times when I react like my father in certain situations.

I think it’s a great compliment.

Which of your father’s Hindi films do you like a lot?

I love him in Chalbaaz. I really love him in a scene when he comes drunk and breaks into a dancing sequence with Sridevi.

I also like him in Hum. I haven’t seen a lot of his old Hindi films.


Image: Sridevi and Rajinikanth in Chalbaaz

Tags: Chalbaaz

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'If you can get me Dhanush's dates, I will be more than happy to work with him'

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Your sister Aishwarya Dhanush is also a director. Did you consult her while making Kochadiiyaan?

Not directly, but yes, we did discuss a lot of ideas and concepts. She did give her inputs.

From whatever she has seen, she is really happy. She is a dancer and so she loved watching our father doing the tandaav in the film.

Can we see you working with your brother-in-law Dhanush?

I am a first-time director and he is a superstar.

If you can get me his dates, I will be more than happy to work with him (laughs).


Image: Rajinikanth in Kochadaiiyaan


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'I cannot call Mr Shatughan Sinha or Mr Jeetendra anything but uncle'

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Several Bollywood stars have whole-heartedly supported this film. What is your equation with him?

Amitabh (Bachchan) uncle mentioned on the day of the trailer launch that we are family friends and this relationship has been there for years.

I cannot call Mr Shatughan Sinha or Mr Jeetendra anything but uncle. I have grown up watching their films and seen them working with my father.

My mother is friends with the wives of all these superstars.

Someone like Mr Shekhar Kapur, who is a filmmaker of extraordinary standards, and who makes films in Hollywood and understands the technology, said that the effort behind making Kochadiiyaan is whatever it is because he knows what goes into making such a film.

After the tremendous success of Robot, why was Aishwarya Rai Bachchan not cast opposite Rajinikanth for this film?

Repeating the combination is something people like, but they also like to see variety.

Deepika (Padukone) was cast in Rana with my father. The film got shelved and we decided to do the prequel (Kochadaiiyaan).

Even in Kochadaiiyaan, the character of Rana exists. So when I spoke to Deepika about this film, that the characters are still the same, it was a natural thing.


Image: Jaya Bachchan, Vrinda Rai, Aishwarya, Amitabh Bachchan, Rajinikanth and K S Ravikumar


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'Deepika adds tremendous value to the project'

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How was it working with her?

It was fantastic. She is a thorough professional. We shot for two days and I think she understood the technology quickly.

I gave the actors a body suit, no makeup, as I wanted to capture their expressions and not their face. There are no camera angles as we are shooting 360 degrees.

The entire film is a work of post-production. For actors to understand that was very difficult as everything is imagination. But Deepika fit in very well.

Although Rajinikanth’s name is enough for a film to be a blockbuster, was Deepika like the icing on the cake?

Absolutely. She adds tremendous value to the project especially in the northern parts of India where Deepika is extremely popular.

Do you plan to take Rana ahead now?

It’s too early to say.

All of us, including my father, are waiting for the release of Kochadaiiyaan and once that’s done we will decide on the next step.


Image: Rajinikanth in Kochadaiiyaan


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'My parents encouraged my sister and me to pursue our dreams'

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You are pretty enough to be an actress. Why did you decide to become a director and not an actor?

Thank you for the compliment.

It was a conscious decision that I rather be behind the camera than in front.

Did I have acting offers? Yes. I think such offers come to every star child.

Did my father encourage me to become an actress? No.

And did I choose not to? Yes.

My parents encouraged my sister and me to pursue our dreams. If I did go to him and say I want to become an actress, he wouldn’t have said no. So I think he was supportive.


Image: Rajinikanth in Kochadaiiyaan

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'If there is anybody who can break the myth that animation is not cartoon, it's only Mr Rajinikanth'

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During the trailer launch, your father said he doesn’t understand technology. How difficult was it to make him comprehend performance-capture technology?

It was difficult to make him understand. The process of animation is time-consuming and complicated.

Normally, when you shoot a film, you have your script ready, the storyboard is in place, production and costume design, call sheets of actors and various other things are pre-planned.

Once you start shooting, you can watch what you have shot on the same day itself.

With a performance-capture film, I had to first shoot with the actors and then convert it. Even after six months of shooting, I wasn’t able to show the film to my actors as I was still in the modelling, texturing, and lighting stage.

My father says that he doesn’t understand technology because after six months of shooting he told me to show him how I have shot the song. I was, like, okay let me finish it and I will show it to you.

He was a little worried because even after six months he couldn’t see a glimpse of the film!

Animation is very difficult. In Kochadiiyaan, every frame has 40 or 50 layers, like the poster, the palace, the crowd, the earrings, the teeth; all of them are separate layers so all these layers come together only after I finish my shoot.

Animation films haven’t had a great run at the box office. Do you think Rajinikanth can be the real game changer?

Animation is not understood in our country yet because it is still considered a cartoon.

Because of the lack of budget, time and trained technicians, a lot of films that have been made here have not done justice to what animation can do.

If there is anybody who can break the myth that animation is not cartoon, it’s only Mr Rajinikanth.


Image: Rajinikanth in Kochadaiiyaan


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