‘Dhanush and I are creatively compatible’
Soundarya Rajinikanth gets candid about VIP 2, including on why Sean Roldan was brought in as the composer
Soundarya Rajinikanth is an interviewer’s delight. It’s quite impressive how soon she gets comfortable as we sit together to talk about her second film.
Excerpts from the conversation:
A motion capture film for your debut, and now, a live-action film.
I am proud to say that my debut film, Kochadaiiyaan, will always be known as a one-of-its-kind film. VIP 2 is as different from that film as it can be. It’s a sequel to a blockbuster and to accept the responsibility of making it came with its own pluses and minuses.
Was it difficult for you to learn that Kochadaiiyaan wasn’t received well?
The film will always be my baby because it’s something special. It was criticised overall, and that hurts. (Pauses) The technology was new to people; I guess they didn’t understand.
There has been a lengthy break between that film and VIP 2.
Oh, yes. I had a baby! (Laughs) I wanted to take a little time off. I was supposed to do Nilavukku En Mel Ennadi Kobam. I announced a casting call on Twitter. But I guess every project finds its way and that had to be on hold because I couldn’t get the right cast. D-sir (Dhanush) keeps writing scripts, and when he was shooting for Kodi, we were discussing something and the topic of VIP 2 came up.
Do you have plans to resume Nilavukku En Mel… later?
I think it’s a brilliant script, and a love story. I hope to make it someday.
Are you fearful of comparisons with the first film, as far as VIP 2 is concerned?
People are going to compare, and that’s natural. I have retained the essence of Raghuvaran’s character completely. He’s somebody everyone can relate to. He isn’t unemployed anymore. His life has moved on. He’s also married. Visually, part 2 is a bigger film and the technical crew is all my choice.
How did you convince Kajol to get on board?
D-sir has written the story and the dialogues. Every time you write a character on paper, you think of somebody who can play it on screen and I could imagine only Kajol ma’am. Because she’s Vasundhara Parameshwar herself. (Smiles) But when I narrated the script to her, she didn’t give me a reaction immediately. We had to wait for 48 hours and that was crazy!
How was the experience of directing her?
Ma’am herself said she found speaking Tamil tough. But, hey, we didn’t lie to her, okay? We said rendu Tamil dialogues irukum… but that just became a little more. (Laughs) The amount of hard work that she put in to learning the language was amazing. It’s always tough to act in a language that you don’t understand. I had to explain every scene to her in English. But she aced them all. She was Vasundhara both on and off the sets. And she’s one of the honest people I’ve ever met.
Did you have any creative differences with Dhanush on the sets?
D-sir and I are best friends, and we discuss stories all the time. I’d say we are creatively compatible. Our work relationship is like that of a lyricist and a music director. We’re creative people, and of course, there were differences of opinion. But I recognise he’s a super-senior when it comes to cinema, and has achieved a lot of things. So, we agreed to disagree. (Smiles)
At the end of the day, we settled for what works for the film best. Once we locked the script, he didn’t interfere with my working style because he knew there can only be one captain for a ship.
What new technical grounds has VIP 2 broken?
Umm, I created a 70 ft ramp, and made D-sir hang onto the rope and dance. He has a bit of vertigo, and it made him slightly furious. (Laughs) But everybody was willing to take on new challenges.
What’s it like to be a woman at the helm of such a big film?
This whole notion of “women will only direct women-oriented films” should change. I think only the subject and vision matter. I want to see more women on the edit tables. I made sure my team had a good number of them. Be it Samuthirakani sir or Vivekh sir, nobody made me feel “naan oru ponnu direct panren”. Also, take Appa or D-sir for instance... when the camera is on, they see only the director in me.
Why did you replace Anirudh with Sean Roldan?
‘Replace’ isn’t the right word here. Anirudh is my brother, after all. Every project has its own colour, and I felt Sean’s music would suit the sequel better. Anirudh’s signature tunes have been retained though. I’d not hesitate to bring him on board for parts 3 and 4.
One actor you’d love to work with.