I related more to Karthi's character in Dev: Rakul Preet
The actor is teaming up once again with Karthi, after 2017's Theeran, for the Valentine’s Day release, directed by debutant Rajath Ravishankar
Rakul Preet looks quite different from what she was like in 2017's Theeran Adhigaaram Ondru (Khakee in Telugu), which saw her pair up with Karthi for the first time. She admits to having reduced weight for her role in Ajay Devgn's upcoming film, De De Pyaar De. “The look came in quite handy for Dev and you'll see why when you see the film,” she teases.
Dev, she says, is ‘completely different’ from Theeran. “There, Priya was from a lower-middle-class small family and quite grounded, but here, she’s a headstrong opinionated girl who has already made a name for herself. She is a multimillionaire and has worked hard to get there,” says Rakul, who confesses to having found her character, Meghna, quite unreasonable. “On the other hand, Karthi's character loves adventure. So, it is a story about two very different characters. I enjoyed this film because of its layered characters.” While Meghna is largely different from who she is, Rakul says she did find some common ground. “Both of us are workaholics,” she says. “But there were times when I wanted to slap her for how she annoys the hero (laughs).”
Interestingly, she related more to the adventurous streak in Karthi’s character, being a self-confessed ‘adventure freak’. “I did skydiving in Dubai recently and will never forget those 50 seconds for the rest of my life,” she says. Her parents were quite nervous, and so, she didn’t tell them she was planning to do it. “They were shocked to see the video in our family WhatsApp group, and my father has since shown interest in trying it out,” she says.
She’s working with a debutant director — Rajath Ravishankar — after a long time in this film. “All the established directors I have worked with were debutants once. Somebody has to trust them. I got to know about this film through Karthi while we were waiting for the release of Theeran. Karthi told me it’s a beautiful love story and that the director sees me as the female lead,” she says, and shares that she liked the story immediately when it was narrated. “There was so much I could do with it as a performer. Moreover, in such scripts, a female lead doesn’t just simply exist in the story; she travels along. Rajath showed great passion in executing this project. I'm sure there is quite a bit of his own life in it (smiles).”
Though Dev’s a love story, and is being released on Valentine’s Day, Rakul’s never been one to make a big deal of the day. “I don’t really celebrate it. It’s a Western idea, and my parents never took to it,” she says. “I think each day of the year should be celebrated by showing love to our friends and family. The current trend seems to be to commercialise such days by shopping and buying material possessions.” Nevertheless, she will be looking forward to this Valentine’s Day on account of the film’s release. “My parents will be travelling to Hyderabad to watch the film with me. It’s the first time we will be watching my film together,” she says.
Rakul denies that she’s focussing more on Tamil cinema, given that she’s getting back-to-back releases. “When I signed Dev and NGK, the announcements came back to back. I have simply been on the look out for good scripts, and just want to do good roles irrespective of whether they are in Tamil, Telugu or Hindi,” she says. Telugu cinema, however, hasn’t taken kindly to this break, with rumours floating about her absence. “There were times when I had as many as five Telugu releases in a year. It’s just that my commitments in other languages have kept me busy,” she says.
I played Sridevi ji in NTR Kathanayakudu. I loved Mahanati and want to do a biopic though I haven't decided on who it should be about. Biopics are the best way to narrate to the masses a story of a person they should know more about.
On the Ajay Devgn film, she says that it’s not hard for a South Indian actor to make a mark in Hindi cinema. “We have had examples such as Sridevi ji. Tabu and now, Taapsee have also shown it is possible. Sharing of talent and films has been happening for a long time, and now that all the industries are on the same ground, it’s a natural trend,” she says. “It’s not just the women, of course. Nassar sir, for example, is playing an important role in my other Hindi film, Marjaavaan.”
She’s mighty pleased about getting to work with Karthi’s brother, Suriya, in Selvaraghavan’s NGK. “I've been his fan for a long time and it was great to work with Selvaraghavan sir, who knows how to extract the best from you.” She’s also got an untitled Sivakarthikeyan project in her kitty, and all she can say about it is is that ‘it’s a science fiction film’. “My biggest challenge right now is to try and make sure I balance my work across the languages.” That explains why she’s also excited about the Telugu film, Venky Mama, in which she’s acting alongside Venkatesh and Naga Chaitanya.
We ask her about her fiery response to a Twitter user who shamed her for her looks. “It wasn’t Rakul, the actor, who spoke that day. It was Rakul, the woman,” she says. “The issue was blown out of proportion, but I stand by my comments. We need to give them a taste of their own medicine.”