Mind voice of an erstwhile prankster
RJ Balaji, who is making his directorial debut with Mookuthi Amman, starring Nayanthara, has now teamed up with Jio Saavn for a new podcast channel called Mind Voice.
"Andha puli saadhathula yaen puliyae illa." If this line still makes you laugh, you are among those who used SoundCloud just to hear RJ Balaji’s Cross Talk. The USP of the show was Balaji’s eccentric persona, served with a flavour of mild profanity. There was nothing close in the mainstream back then. He was the radio guy, who prank called people to make us laugh. Now though, he is an actor, to-be director, social commentator, cricket commentator... Add ‘podcaster’ to the list, as well.
RJ Balaji has now teamed up with Jio Saavn for a new podcast channel called Mind Voice. “There is little difference between a podcast and a radio show, he says. “It's the same. The only difference is that radio is an appointment medium: People can only listen to a show at a specific time. But podcasts are available all the time on the internet and that increases the reach.”
The RJ-turned-actor says that amidst his busy schedule, he wanted to do Mind Voice to spread some positive stories in a world that is becoming bleak. “Good things are happening around us but they are not spoken about. This show is to bring out such stories.”
As the conversation reels towards his directorial debut Mookuthi Amman, which stars Nayanthara playing the Tamil goddess, Balaji gets cautious not to reveal much about the movie. However, he assures that the upcoming film is not a satirical comedy but a family entertainer.
Talking about the film, Balaji reveals, “Nayanthara is a good friend since Naanum Rowdy Thaan but it would have been unfair to ask her to act in my film. But I had told the story to Vignesh Shivan since he is a close friend. As I was scouting for technicians for the project, Nayanthara called me and asked, ‘Enkitta ellam katha solla maatiya?’ So, I met her and narrated the script. She was impressed when I was halfway through it.”
The whole crew of Mookuthi Amman has turned vegetarian to shoot the film. “When Nayanthara played Sita in the Telugu film, Sri Rama Rajyam, she was fasting. She is going to do the same for Mookuthi Amman as well. Many ask me if it is a satirical take on God... No, it's not. I am a believer myself. Idhu oru Bhakthi padam," says Balaji.
There will be no romance or duets in the film, he adds. "There are numerous heroes to do those things. Even while doing LKG, I was aware of what people would like to see me as. They would change channels if I started dancing and fighting."
When asked if he will act in films where he is not a protagonist, Balaji says, "No. I think I have a lot on my plate already. However, if it's a unique role or if it's for a director I like, I will make exceptions. Otherwise, I would like to make the films I like and act in them."
How does this former critic take criticism now? "I don't see 'those comments'. I am not active on social media at all. I rarely log in to see the responses to events like this." When he says, 'I have enough love and affection in real life, and I think that's enough for me', it is clear that the Cross Talk prankster, who thrived on the internet, has been replaced by someone else... someone like a Tamil star, maybe?