Lal Salaam Audio Launch—Aishwarya Rajinikanth: If my father was a sanghi, he wouldn't have done this film

From director Aishwarya Rajinikanth to Rajinikanth himself, the cast and crew of Lal Salaam, talk about the story, politics, religion, along with a live performances by AR Rahman
Lal Salaam Audio Launch—Aishwarya Rajinikanth: If my father was a sanghi, he wouldn't have done this film

The grand audio launch of Aishwarya Rajinikanth's third directorial, Lal Salaam, took place on Friday at Sri Sairam Engineering College, Chennai. The film stars Vikranth and Vishnu Vishal in the lead roles, with an extended cameo by Rajinikanth and a soundtrack composed by AR Rahman. Produced by Subaskaran's Lyca Productions, Lal Salaam is all set to arrive in theatres on February 9.

The event kickstarted in style as Rajinikanth arrived inside the packed venue in the vintage car his character uses in the film. With live performances of all the songs from the film—two of which were performed by AR Rahman himself—the cast and crew got up on stage, one by one, to share their experiences working in the film and to shower praises on Rajinikanth and their director. The first to get on stage were actors Actors Jeevitha and Nirosha, who play Rajinikanth's sister and wife,  respectively. Jeevitha said, "I have acted in many films in the 80s before retiring. I never thought I'd act again in my life. I am honoured to act with Rajini sir. As for Aishwarya, she is a very hard-working director. She would be on the set well before all of us and work tirelessly through the day." Nirosha added, "I am blessed. I got two compliments while working on the film. One from Amitabh sir and another from Rajini sir. He told me that I have attractive eyes. I was speechless. It made me so happy."

Actor Thambi Ramiah, Vivek Prasanna, and Thangadurai walked up on stage next. While Thangadurai shared funny anecdotes about working with Vishnu Vishal and Vikranth, Thambi Ramiah got political. "On the day of the Ram Mandir inauguration, a woman gave birth to a child, and she named her child Ram Rahim, this news is similar to the soul of Lal Salaam," he said. He then spoke emotionally about Rajinikanth's superstardom and why he is revered so much. Vivek Prasanna followed up saying, "I thought Aishwarya ma'am would be a strict director but she was very friendly. This film is timely and has a very relevant message."

Director KS Ravikumar, who plays a role in the film, took to the stage. "People said Rajini sir's films wouldn't go well after he said he wouldn't enter politics. But Jailer proved them all wrong. It had a lot of goosebumps moments. Thank you, Nelson," he said, addressing director Nelson, who attended the event as a special guest. Writer Vishnu Rangasamy, who is also the cinematographer of the film, talked about how the project started. "I narrated two stories to Aishwarya ma'am. One was based in the city and another was based in a village. To my surprise, she chose the village story and that became Lal Salaam." He then spoke about the inspiration behind the story. "Lal Salaam is based on an incident next to my village, where a temple Chariot was burned. That was combined with another story about cricket." 

It was revealed that the song Thimiri Yezhuda in Lal Salaam, has vocals by late singers Bamba Bakya and Shahul Hameed, resurrected with the aid of Artificial Intelligence. Composer Deva got on stage to perform Anbalane along with AR Rahman, who also played the piano. After the performance, Deva got back on stage and said, "I have been travelling with the Rajinikanth brand, that logo, for decades now." He then added, "The song I sang in Lal Salaam is a milestone in my career. When everyone thought I could only do gaana songs, AR Rahman believed I could sing this divine melody."

Vishnu Vishal then got on stage next to deliver his speech. "On set, Rajini sir complimented my films, Gatta Kusthi and Vennila Kabadi kuzhu. When I told him I am still searching for my identity as an actor, he told me selecting good films is my style and gave me a big boost of confidence." He then recounts a poignant moment from years ago, " I played cricket for 10 years but I couldn't continue. During a  particularly low point in my life, I sat down to watch cricket and I saw Robin Uthappa on TV. He was my junior. I felt disappointed because I couldn't be there and that I had failed in cricket. Right at that moment, I heard loud cheers behind me because Rajini sir was crossing by with his family. That reminded me of my failure in cinema as well. I went home and cried that day. But now, I'm acting with Rajini sir in a film about cricket. I'm happy." The other lead of the film, Vikranth, then got on stage. He said, "Hearing the star cast, the director, and the producer, even my son didn't believe it. So thank you, Aishwarya." He then addresses Rajinikanth directly, "I grew up watching you sir. I couldn't have come into this project without you knowing about it. So thank you for accepting me."  

Director Aishwarya Rajinikanth then got up on stage with a written note of thanks to her cast and crew. She begins by saying her thanks to her writer and cinematographer, Vishnu Rangasamy. "I have known him since my 3 days." She spoke about how tough it was to get the project going and how many producers and actors would listen to the script but still say no at the end. Aishwarya revealed how she didn't even think of asking her father to be in the film. She said, "When my father heard the script he asked me if he could do Moideen's role. I was hesitant because even when I was his daughter, I still had no right to tarnish his legacy so I didn't think of him in that role until he himself suggested it." Talking about her experience working in Southern Tamil Nadu, Aishwarya said, "People thought it wasn't a good idea to take Appa to a live location to shoot. But people down south, in places like Senji, Thiruvannamali, and Pondicherry, took care of him like their own son. They are incredible people." The director then gets emotional, talking about the personal attacks her father, Rajinikanth, received on social media. She said, "People call my father a sanghi. I would like to tell you here now, Rajinikanth is not a sanghi. If he wasn't a sanghi, he wouldn't have done Lal Salaam." Rajinikanth got emotional and teary-eyed upon hearing this.

The man of the hour, AR Rahman went up on stage to give a speech and then performed the song, Jalali, right afterwards. Rahman said he understood what Aishwarya, as a daughter of Rajinikanth, must be going through. He said, "Being the subject of constant scrutiny must be tough". Rahman then added, "I thought Lal Salaam would be a boring preachy film until I saw it. In places where it would have gotten preachy, it was filled with humanity. When I asked Aishwarya who wrote these dialogues, she said she wrote it but Rajini sir tweaked it. I wasn't surprised. He is a man beyond religion."

With thunderous applause, Rajinikanth finally takes to the stage. After thanking his fans and the cast and crew of Lal Salaam, the actor registers his condolences for the demise of singer Bhavatharani and actor-politician Vijayakanth. Speaking about Lal Salaam, Rajinikanth, "My character, Moideen Bhai, is based on a real person who lived in a southern district and this film is based on an incident that happened in 1992. Since they didn't want opportunists to use his name, they hid his identity." The actor then went on to talk about religious harmony and the basic tenets of Hinduism. Rajinikanth then got emotional when she spoke about his daughter and how she helped him during his severe health decline a decade ago. After ending his speech, he quickly came back to the podium to add, "People took the Crow-Eagle story I said in Jailer audio launch and twisted it to say that I am attacking Vijay. This hurt me because he is someone I watched grow since he was a boy. He has become a great actor with his hard work and I hear that he is entering politics and is getting involved in social work. To say that we are both competition for each other is disrespectful to both himself and I."

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