Raashii Khanna: I was intimidated by Karthi
Raashii Khanna, who plays a lawyer in Sardar, talks about getting into the skin of a character and the strengths and sensibilities it demanded
A generic spy-thriller usually allows for a narrow type of lead woman character. They are usually the Bond girl or a femme fatale. But Sardar aims to be more. As actor Raashii Khanna says, her character Shalini drives the plot through actions born of her own convictions and does not lose her independent thought in a sea of choices made by the protagonist. “Shalini is a lawyer,” says Raashii Khanna, “She is a social activist lawyer who fights for the people.” She goes on to list everything she loves about her character. “She is independent, strong, and stubborn, and I like her a lot.” The actor was apparently really impressed with the characterisation when she first heard the script. “I have previously played a lawyer in Pakka Commercial, but that was more of a humorous role. Sardar is the first time I had to prepare myself to look and sound like a real-life lawyer."
Raashii goes on to muse about the differences between herself and the character. “I am different from her—from belief systems to the way she boxes things as right and wrong, and also…,” she paused with a lingering smile, “She is talkative and I’m not. We are different, but she still impressed me.” Raashii goes on to speak about her co-star Karthi’s character, Vijayaprakash: “While Shalini sees the world through a black and white lens and draws sharp lines between good and evil, Karthi sir’s character is rather grey.” Painting in detail the dynamic between Shalini and Vijayaprakash, Raashii says, “Both have lived right next to each other all their lives. There is a lot of unspoken love between them that has been building up over the years, and we see that sparkle through in every scene.”
The conversation then segues into her experience working with Karthi. “He is a fantastic actor, and everybody knows that. When I signed the project, people told me that Karthi was a fun person on set, but I never got to see that side,” she says, with a laugh. “I only saw the serious Karthi.” She speaks of being fortunate to observe his acting process from up close. “He focuses on even the minutest expressions. His attention to detail helped elevate many scenes between us. I have also noticed that he’s a very secure actor. Any scene we did was always about the scene and never about him or me. In fact, he is such a good actor that I was rather intimidated. I felt challenged and that’s a good thing.”
Raashii reminisces about her initial struggles on set before thanking director PS Mithran for helping her evolve as an actor. “Karthi sir and I read a lot of scenes together,'' she says, "We did not just walk into the set one day and start reading lines. We collaborated, discussed our inputs with the director, and carefully designed every aspect of our characters. It is difficult to please director Mithran easily; he is a smart man. He was tough on us but in a way that improved our performance, and I hope that everyone is able to see that.”