If you accept me as Jayalalithaa, I want to make a movie about Kannagi below: Kangana Ranaut
For many actors, approving a shot in one shot is a pride. But for Kangana Ranaut , what counts is the satisfaction of doing the scene well. Even if it's just an expression that comes for a fraction of a second in a complete song sequence! The actress is filming in Chennai for Vijay ’S Thalaivi , a biographical film about the former actress and CM of Tamil Nadu, J Jayalalithaa , and we saw her requesting the repetition of the team until both she and the director were happy with the result. Taking a chair next to a beautifully arranged setting, he continues to practice the movements and expressions of his hands for a few minutes before telling us about why he was kicked to make another biographical film, the challenges of interpreting a real-life person, how react to criticism and more. Excerpts
You started the year winning the Padma shri . Has honor already sunk?
Actually, I'm still processing it. I am absolutely grateful to people and to those who thought I deserved it. I am also grateful to all who have loved me. I think I've been very unconventional on my trip, since I started receiving Padma. It has been full of very extreme ups and downs and very extreme minimums, and I'm glad that people have seen me through all that. So yes, this has not been something I expected to start my year, for sure.
You have made films in which your characters have been inspired by the actress, such as Parveen Babi in Woh Lamhe. But making a biography of an actress turned politician must be a new experience.
Even in Once Upon A Time In Mumbaai, my role was loosely based on Madhubala. But after Manikarnika: The Queen of Jhansi, this is my next proper biopic. It’s not that I choose these roles. I can say I’m only fortunate because I’ve been able to have this opportunity.
You have learned tamil and bharatanatyam ...
I also put on a few kilos (smiles). I had done Dhaam Dhoom a long time ago, and I never had the opportunity to take advantage of this region, especially Tamil Nadu, after that. My movies work well in the north, but I wanted to connect with the audience in the south. I think this is a great opportunity for that. I really want to do more work here.
To play a person who existed in flesh on screen, it’s important to connect with them. What about Jayalalithaa struck you for you to make that instant connection?
Apart from my personal liking for her, it’s the very extraordinary life that she lived, and the extraordinary perseverance and strength that she showed in the face of adversity… these are truly remarkable. But of course, you need to see if it makes sense cinematically as well. When I choose to do a film, I see what’s there in it for the audience more than what ’S there in it for me. I feel that her journey makes for an exceptionally good screenplay, in terms of cinema and politics blending into each other.
Obviously there must be some challenges.
Yes, for instance, the culture is very, very different here. Amma has been a sensational, most loved superstar. When I did my research on her, I found out what an icon she was ... the way she carried herself, she’s also a style icon. She never did timid characters on screen, she was a trailblazer. To become Amma is an interesting arc, but a difficult arc to achieve.
When you work hard, does it affect you if your work is criticized? For example, although there were compliments, the first poster of the film also received criticism.
We have just started the film. When it comes out, that’s when people get to actually see the complete product and react.
Have you started shooting with Arvind Swami ?
Oh yes, and it is amazing to be working with him. Their relationship (between Jayalalithaa and MGR , played by Arvind Swami) is layered. It’s an intense relationship between friends, mentor (and his protégée) and much more. And when they are both in politics, it also becomes competitive. This kind of dynamic relationship that they share has many shades ... friendly, admiration, mentoring, and then, goes on to become a competition of sorts. It's extraordinary. And Arvind Swami is such a subtle artiste who can pull off any scene with ease. What he brings to the film is very amazing and we are fortunate to get the casting right.
What has kept you away from Tamil cinema?
The kind of films I've started to do in Bollywood, I need that kind of script here as well. I'm not ready to play second fiddle to the hero. I hear it happens in the south, like it happens in Mumbai as well. But the other day, I was telling Vijay sir that he has to make a film on this iconic lady who ’S worshipped here - Kannagi. If I’m accepted as Jayalalithaa, I want him to make Kannagi for me. She’s such an iconic character, such a strong woman, and it will make for an epic drama. But I want to do that film only in Tamil. Hopefully, it should manifest.
And where did you learn about Kannagi?
Vijay endra Prasad sir (writer of the film) was researching on Jayalalithaa, and I heard it from him (smiles).