The Raanjhanaa actor speaks about everything under the sun from Shamitabh to Amitabh to PK and I
When a lean, young man entered the room, not many could recognise him in the first few seconds. But the fan boy in my leapt with joy as I knew that it was none other than Dhanush. While humble, down to earth are the list of adjectives used to describe him, you might also want to add diplomatic to that list as he shied away from answering who is the bigger superstar – Rajinikanth or Amitabh Bachchan. In the middle of my fun interview with Dhanush, my phone sprang to life and incidentally, my ringtone was from his last year’s blockbuster hit VIP. Dhanush grinningly picked the phone and handed it over to me, I coyly accepted the phone, apologising for the disturbance. All the omens suggested that it was going to be a wonderful afternoon, as I spoke to Dhanush candidly about his upcoming film Shamitabh.
How did you bag R Balki’s Shamitabh?
I think I am very lucky to be a part of Shamitabh, sharing screen with Amitabh Sir. After Raanjhannaa, I got a lot of good scripts but I didn’t suit some of them as I felt I won’t be able to do justice to it. It just happened that one day I got a phone call from R Balki and he offered me a role. I was so elated that I immediately said yes. I didn’t know anything about the story or my part, and as I kept my phone, I was just hoping, praying that the role suits my kind of acting.
It is rumoured that you are playing deaf and mute in the film….
I can’t speak anything about the story of the film. When I came here, Balki strictly instructed me that I shouldn't not talk about the film’s story line.
Did you feel intimated while working with Big B?
Working with Amit ji is a dream come true for every actor. Even after being such a great actor, he was so humble and down to earth. He treated me and everyone on the sets as equals. He was not at all intimidating. Amit ji never interfered in other's performances and let me work the way I felt was best. It is his humility that bowled me over.
During the trailer launch of Shamitabh, Mr Bachchan said that you and him were intimidated by Akshara Haasan. Was that a joke?
More than a joke, I think it was a kind of compliment. I think Amit ji was just trying to laud the efforts put in by Akshara in his own style.
You have worked with both sisters - Shruti Haasan and Akshara Haasan. How is your Shamitabh co-star different from Shruti, who is now an established actress?
I think it is wrong to compare the two. Also it is too early to do so. Shamitabh is Akshara’s first film and all I can say is that she is very talented and has her own strengths as an actor. You will have to watch the film to witness Akshara’s performance.
Amitabh Bachchan is seen in a drunken avatar in the trailer as well as Piddly song. You have done quite a few drunkard roles in your film’s down South. How do you rate Amitabh’s performance?
First of all, I think I am too small of an actor to actually rate Mr Bachchan’s performance, who is a living legend. Despite being a superstar, when he doesn’t interfere in other’s performance, I have no right to pass comment on his acting. All I can say that, to see him playing the drunk character on the sets of Shamitabh, was spell binding.
Did you take any acting notes from Big B?
A lot. I observed him performing and learnt a lot from him. You will see the difference(in my acting) in my upcoming films.
Did you give any advice to Akshara, since it is her first film?
Not at all. Again, when someone like Amit ji does not comment or advice on other’s performance, I don’t think it would have been right on my part to advice Akshara on acting.
Shamitabh seems to be about clash of egos between you and Big B. Any time in your career, did you experience such ego clashes in real life too?
Not that I can recall. I am a very secure person and a secure actor. I keep my ego aside when I work.
How difficult was it shooting for your second Hindi film Shamitabh?
It was comparatively easier than the first one. While shooting for Raanjhannaa, I struggled hard with my Hindi, but now that I understand a little and practice speaking Hindi with my close group of friends, I think I was much more comfortable with the language this time around.
In Bollywood, a lot of actors sport six pack abs and eight pack abs. How important do you feel physique is for an actor?
There a lot of stars in South too, who have six packs and eight packs. I really admire their effort. I know how hard it is to get the cuts. You are on no salt diet for months and water intake is also reduced. An actor goes through all this because the script demands it. I don’t think any one does this for show off.
When are you going to sing in Hindi for your Hindi fans?
I am an actor in the first place. That’s all I am concentrating right now. Singing happened by chance. And the Kolaveri Di song jinx is refusing to die down. It is gonna be three years, yet people remember that song and keep asking about my singing. It is as if I can’t get that song off my back.
During the earlier era, film stars from South like Kamal Haasan and Rajinikanth used to act in Hindi films. After them, it has been only you from South industry who has made a mark in Bollywood. Why do you think other actors from South are unwilling to do a Hindi film? What pushes you to do a Hindi film?
Well, I can’t speak for others. I can only tell about myself. Well, I don’t see myself bound as just a Tamil actor. For me language is no barrier, as I am ready to act in any language as long the script is good. My only criteria for doing a film is good scripts. Tomorrow, if someone offers me a good script in Telugu, I will do it. I don’t see films in our country as Hindi film or Tamil film or Telugu film. I just see them as Indian films.
A lot of South remakes in Hindi like Action Jackson, Tevar have failed recently. Do you think such kind of masala flicks should not be made anymore?
You should ask a trade expert about all this. As an actor, you never know what will work and what will not. If I knew that these kind of films work, then I would keep on doing only that. The beauty of films is that you can never predict it’s outcome. So if someone offers me a commercial film, and if I like my part, I will definitely do it.
Which Bollywood film, apart from yours, are you most excited about this year?
If you had asked me few days back, I would have said Aamir Khan’s PK. I think Raju Hirani is a brilliant filmmaker, I loved the film. I watched the film twice. And both the times, at the end of the movie, people stood and gave standing ovation to the film.
Any comments on director Shankar’s I?
I am very excited about the film. It is a film made with so much effort over the years which such a huge budget. It is Shankar Sir's film, need I say more. And Vikram Sir’s efforts are commendable, to strain his body in gym and going through so much make up. He went through three to four hours of make up day in day out. A small gum applied on face while doing make up can be so irritating,I can’t imagine how Vikram Sir pulled it off.
Your next Tamil film Anegan, shows you in four different avatars. How difficult it was for you to get into the shoes of multiple characters?
I think my struggle, my efforts were nothing compared to what Vikram sir went through for I. I don’t think it is right to compare my struggle with his.
How true are the rumours that you are planning to remake your hit Tamil film VIP in Hindi?
As of now, there are no discussions on this front. No one has approached me yet with the plans of remaking the film.
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