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Interview Hindi Tamil

Dhanush: Rajkumar Hirani has inspired me with his films, would love to work with him

In an interview with Cinestaan.com, Dhanush, who celebrates his birthday today, 28 July, spoke about how acting with Kajol elevated his performance in VIP 2 and the work he would love to do in Hindi cinema in the coming days. 

Suparna Thombare

South star Dhanush, who turns 34 today, is back to wooing the Hindi film audience after his last film Shamitabh (2015), albeit with a dubbed version of his Tamil and Telugu film Vella Illa Pattadhaari 2 (VIP 2). This time apart from acting, Dhanush is also producer and writer on the film, with sister-in-law Soundarya Rajinikanth as the director. 

In VIP 2, Dhanush reprises his the role of a humble and principled engineer, Raghuvaran, who clashes with a corporate bigwig, Vasundhara, played by Kajol.  

Generally known to be very shy during his interviews, Dhanush was in his element this time, as journalists flanked him to have a chat. The actor joked about looking like an ordinary man and took a dig at himself for not being able to speak in Hindi properly, in between discussing the making of the film with Kajol and the filmmakers he would love to work with in Hindi cinema.

Here are excerpts from our interaction with the talented actor-filmmaker.  

Why did you think you needed to make VIP2?

The same kind of box office numbers for starters and may be more. VIP in Tamil means unemployed graduatute. The film garnered lot of love from people because it dealt with everybody's day to day problems. How your life, no matter how much negativity is around, your life can still be beautiful if you believe in the basic essence of life - love. Love not as in romantic interest, it's love for other things, the work you do. Like he has a very thin bike in this film. His affection and love for the two wheeler he rides. So the film garnered love from the people so I am hoping for the same kind of love for this also.

VIP wasn't dubbed in Hindi, so why did you decide to dub this one?

Part one we didn't know would be such a big blockbuster. Of course we hoped it would. Once that happened initially we wanted to do. Part one was a big hit in Telugu as well, the dubbed version. So part two we wanted to do bilingual. When Kajol ma'am came into the picture, and since they know me here, and Kajol ma'am is a legend here so they also wanted to explore the Hindi market.

How does the sequel take forward the story from the first part?

Part two starts off where part one left. It is about how an engineering student finds it difficult to get a job in his desired field. It's about a man who chooses to wait for the job he wants. He does not want to do anything else other than the field he chose. This film deals with how even after you get the job, how difficult it is to fight against the corporate war. And what happens when a simple, humble boy collides with an empress and her world - big corporate world. And what happens when both have their individual principles and ideologies. Their beliefs are different and they are not going to get along with each other.

How was the experience of sharing screen space with Kajol?

It was fascinating! I grew up watching Kajol ma'am's films. I have seen so many of her films - Gupt (1997), Fanaa (2006) and who hasn't seen Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge (1995)! So it was amazing to work with such a talented, fine, seasoned performer. It kind of elevated my performance also. It was a great experience. 

How did Kajol come on board?

Once I started writing, Vasundhara and I were wondering someone like Kajol ma'am. We were discussing we need somebody like her. One fine day I was like, why not her only? We were aware that last 20 years she has not done film in any other language. So it might be close to impossible to get her. But then I said, let's just give it a shot. Let's just try. Let's just not give up without trying. See how important it is to try? (laughs) 

So we asked for an appointment through her manager. She was very sweet to meet us. We narrated the script to her. Based on purely the merit of the script she said yes. So that gave us even more confidence. We are glad that she decided to do the film because I don't thing anybody could have pulled off Vasundhara other than her.

She was pitch perfect for the part. What the script demands should happen and she was perfect for the part so we didn’t have to make any changes.

She has a strong personality and is a strong actor. Were you intimidated by her?

No. I am a very confident actor so I don’t get intimated. That confidence is necessary also. I have faith in myself that I can do justice to the characters I play. Probably, if someone is better than me, I will learn from them quickly and try to match them. 

How is your acting process different from that of Kajol’s? She is known to be a very spontaneous actress.

If you use the word spontaneous then it is the same. Even I believe in spontaneity in acting.

Do you see a change in yourself as an actor since doing your first Hindi film Raanjhanaa (2013)?

Language-wise I am not too good since I am still speaking to you in English. I hope to learn more soon but...

How was the experience to be directed by your sister-in-law Soundarya?

She also happens to be my best friend. When you work with your best friend its good fun. Communicating what we think became easier because she knows me for 15-16 years now. So she knows me as an actor. I have seen her develop her abilities as a filmmaker so I also know her strengths. So comparatively it was easier. And it was a lot of fun with Kajol ma’am. It was a riot on set. 

You are also the writer on the film...

The writer and director kept fighting. I am not going lie about that. But the actor was very obedient. 

Baahubali 2: The Conclusion did really well in the Hindi market. Do you see a change in process when it comes to the Hindi and Tamil film industry markets?

Your project has a wider market now. Language is not a barrier now, content is what matters. That is a very healthy change. That change is necessary. Doesn’t matter through which project it happens. Baahubali has set a great example. Even Dangal (2016) has set a great example. Internationally what it did was phenomenal. Wherever I go, even when I was shooting my English film, they were talking about Dangal, which is superb. And as long as Indian films are making us proud internationally it's great. 

Even when it comes actors from the South doing Hindi films, the world has shrunk. Earlier, even if you remake a Hindi film in Tamil, nobody would say it's a remake. Earlier they thought it was original. But now they know, the world has shrunk and all the knowledge you need is right here (points to his phone). Hence, comparatively it is easier to cross boundaries now. 

Who are the Hindi film director you would love to work with in the future?

In Hindi, Aanand L Rai anytime. He is such a sweetheart. Meeting people like Aanand L Rai has become a rarity these days. Apart from Aanand L Rai and R Balki, who I have already worked with, I would love to work with Rajkumar Hirani sir. He has inspired me so much with his films. Every time I walk out watch a Hirani film, I feel like life is beautiful, everything is positive. It is not so bad. He has always spread positivity through his films and that is commendable. We have to applaud that effort and appreciate that he is trying to spread positivity through his films. I would love to work with Rajkumar Hirani sir one day. 

If you have not acted with Rajinikanth in any film so far. Would that happen anytime soon?

I haven't had the honour or the opportunity of that, but I hope some day it happens. 

Do you talk about your films with him?

We talk films like any other family. Family is family. If it is a doctor's family, they'll discuss medicine. I don't discuss my films as such with him, like how to do it or something. But in general we discuss films. 

Will you ever join politics?

No, I don't understand politics. It's not for me. There is enough politics in the industry. 

Not many South actors have worked in Hindi after Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan. Recently, many have tried, including Suriya and Ramcharan Teja. But you have been liked by the Hindi film going audience.

That's a great honour. Thank you. But it's not about who is doing the role but about the content. End of the day, if the content works, whoever is in the film also works. If the content doesn't work whoever is in the film also doesn't work. So the film is any day bigger than the star. The content is any day bigger than the star. 

So are you a star or an actor?

I want to be both. There is a thrill in being called a star.