While most of the actresses would rather be seen working with the younger breed of actors, the beautiful former Miss World, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan is absolutely comfortable working with an actor almost two decades her senior.
As her film with the legendary actor Rajnikanth releases, Aishwarya speaks to Businessofcinema.com about her experience of working on Robot.
How was the experience of working with an actor who’s almost two decades senior to you?
Rajni sir, like Pa (Amitabh Bachchan) is a professional and humility personified. He has defied age. They are both legendary actors due to their body of work. Hence, their cinema becomes exciting to the viewers. Just like everyone else, I had seen and read about his work, so to actually get to see him in person every day and see how humble he is has been an experience. Rajni sir is so unassuming. He never complained about the long hours he had to spend on the sets owing to the technical detailing. He’s also very dedicated. While I completed three other films – Raavan, Guzaarish and Action Replayy along with Robot, in these two years, he was completely focused on Robot. He is a legend.
How did you decide to play this role?
When I am working in a movie, it’s not only my part in the film but the film in totality that I think about. I think post Devdas, I kind of went on this sudden trip of experiencing movies. As an actor what you are doing has to be exciting, but it’s also the experience of working with the filmmaker, the team – all these factors make an opportunity exciting for me.
My role in Robot excited me to do the film and also Shankar is a brilliant filmmaker. I’ve worked with him earlier in Jeans, when I was relatively new in the industry. Even back then he was way forward technically. Jeans was ahead of its time and with Robot he has pushed it manifold.
This is your second film with Shankar after Jeans which released way back in 1998. Why did it take so long for the two of you to do a film together again?
Shankar and I were attempting to do a project for quite a while now. There were lots of wonderful ideas we could have collaborated on and we could have worked together, but my schedule didn’t permit it. When Shankar approached me with Robot, the schedules kind of worked out and that’s how we ended up doing the second film together.
How do you think Shankar has changed as a filmmaker over the years?
I feel that in all his movies there is something new, however, he never forgets the common man. He keeps in mind how a layman would be humored, or what will entertain the common man. He brings all those elements in his cinema and more. He re-defines magnificence and is willing to push creative boundaries. During Jeans, Shankar exposed me to multiple imaging. Robot took me a step further!
Iruvar, Jeans, Ravanan and now Endhiran. Will we see you do more films down South?
There is a misconception that people do movies down south because they don’t get work here. But, I am an open minded actor. I sign movies for the characters that are offered to me irrespective of whether I’m doing a film in Hindi, Tamil, Bengali or English.
Having worked in four Tamil movies are you more comfortable with the language now?
Earlier when I was doing Iruvar and Jeans, delivering my dialogue in Tamil was like sitting for an exam. I used to write my lines in English and mug them diligently the day before the shoot. Although I now understand the language better, I still wouldn’t risk a conversation with a local because I might just make some grammatical mistakes.
After doing very high budget films like Jodhaa Akbar, Ravan and now Robot, would you be open to do the smaller budget films?
Firstly, I don’t say yes to the movie for their budgets; so that’s not really my criteria. My criteria is the director I am working with, the film, the character, and what I can give to my audience.
Ever since you started out in the industry, you’ve never done roles of a conventional newcomer. How difficult or easy was it for you to play the chirpy, young college girl role of Sanaa in Robot?
Yes so far, I have done character driven roles and not been part of conventional commercial genre for a long time. Sanaa is not a difficult character. It is what leading ladies in an entertainer do. However, in my case, such roles have been rare since I experienced different genres of films with Mani Ratnam, Shankar, Rahul Rawail, Mansoor Khan and Sanjay Leela Bhansali in the initial years. With my character Sanaa, Shankar has given her roots. She is a student who is doing further studies in medicine. There is degree of logic why she is there in the film.
In Robot, who did you enjoy romancing more, the Robot or the superstar Rajnikanth?
(Laughs) I was spoilt for choice, both the man and the machine were irresistible.
Your last film Raavan, didn’t live up to expectations. What are your expectations from Robot?
When the audience doesn’t like something, we strive to do better next time. I am keeping my fingers crossed for Robot.