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Celebrating 30 years of Rajathi Raja
(Sunday, 3rd March 2019)

“It was one of the last films I was going to do before getting married and the timing worked out well. It also was an opportunity to work with Rajini sir. So, the film seemed to be a nice way to kind of hang up my boots,” begins Nadhiya, who played one of the female leads.

She says that there was a positive vibe to the role because her character, Lakshmi, is the one who tries to build up the confidence of Chinnarasu, the innocent villager played by Rajinikanth. “Of course, being a part of a Rajini sir film was an added attraction,” she adds.

The actress says that her interactions with Rajinikanth were quite minimal on the set. “We would exchange our cues before we shot for a scene. Rajini sir is relatively a reserved person,” she states. But she admits she was in awe the first time she saw him on the set.

The great thing about Rajinikanth, she feels, is that when it comes to work, the Superstar is extremely flexible, very giving. “When we were shooting for the song Enkitta Modhadhe, if choreographer Sundaram Master came up with slightly complex steps, Rajini sir would say, “Please give that to Nadhiya.” In that sense, Rajini sir never tries to hold on to all the limelight and gives his co-stars a chance to shine if he thinks they can do it better,” she praises. On her other popular song from the film, Maama Un Ponna Kudu, she says that the song was a quickie, shot at a marriage hall in Chennai.

She reminisces, “As I was going to get married after shooting for the film, he arranged a nice farewell party for me at the Taj Nungambakkam, inviting the cast and crew, and friends of mine. It was a very sweet thing that he did for me, ” she says.

Nadhiya mentions how she owes it to Rajinikanth for her non-South Indian fans. “My friends in Mumbai are not that much aware of my acting career down south, so at social gatherings, when someone asks me, “Have you done a film with Rajinikanth?” and when I reply with a “Yes”, they begin to look at me a little differently. I am glad I could be part of Rajini sir’s filmography, and that he is a part of my film career as well,” she says.

I decided to act like a muff for the character: Radha Ravi

Initially, Radha Ravi, who plays one of the antagonists in the film, approached the role like a serious villain. However, when he was told that his character knows Rajinikanth’s real identity — that he is Vijayakumar’s son — he decided that he shouldn’t play the role with a straight face. “Criminals are usually shrewd fellows, so I felt that it wouldn’t be right if I played the role seriously despite knowing that the hero is trying to pass off for someone else, without hardly changing his appearance. Also, Janagaraj, who switches places with Rajinikanth, will be acting in a comical way, unlike the scion of a rich family who has been educated in the US. A serious villain would have immediately had doubts in such a scenario. So, I decided to play the character like a muff, and when I suggested the idea to director Sundarrajan, he accepted it,” he explains.

He also used a particular bit from his father, MR Radha’s scene in the yesteryear film Paava Mannippu. “There is a scene in which my father will quip “Yessu Yessu Yessu” when a rich guy asks him if he can get a land vacated. I used this same phrase in a scene while replying to Janagaraj. I also intentionally mimicked my father’s voice for this character,” he informs.

The actor also explains how Rajinikanth had to convince director Sundarrajan to retain a scene. “In this scene, Rajini will ask me to lift my hand, saying he knows mantras and utter some gibberish, following which there will be a snake in my hand. Sundarrajan wasn’t keen on having this as he felt it was over the top. But Rajini explained why this was necessary — in the second half, there are portions where his character does some magic, and this one foreshadows this aspect of the character. Sundarrajan agreed only half-heartedly. By then, Rajini had achieved superstardom. To me, he could do unbelievable things, like Zorro, and the audience would willingly accept them,” he elaborates and also adds that the Superstar also insisted on this scene because “he liked to have a snake scene in his films for sentimental reasons”.

One person Radha Ravi singles out from the cast is actor Vasanth, who played one of the villains. “He came from the small screen and was one of the people responsible for the formation of the Chinnathirai Nadigaral Sangam. He was also a relative of mine. I miss him whenever I catch this film on TV,” he says.

It is Rajinikanth’s only collaboration with director R Sundarrajan

It was presented by Ilaiyaraaja, whose brother, RD Bhaskar, produced the film under their home banner Pavalar Creations

It happens to be Nadhiya’s only film with the Superstar

It was the last film in which Radha paired up with Rajinikanth

Revathy and Rupini were initially in talks for the female lead roles

Courtesy : Times Of India

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