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Interview Hindi Tamil Telugu

Darbar addresses incident similar to recent Hyderabad rape case: AR Murugadoss

Ahead of the release of Darbar, director Murugadoss opens up on the experience of working with Rajinikanth and what it is like to make a relevant film with the superstar.

Haricharan Pudipeddi

It has been filmmaker AR Murugadoss’s decade-long wish to work with superstar Rajinikanth. The wish was finally granted when the two joined hands for Darbar, which is being released today.

Ahead of the film's release, the Ghajini (2008) director opened up on the experience of working with the veteran and spoke of what it is like to make a relevant film with Rajinikanth and what can be expected from Darbar. Excerpts:

How did this project fall into place? Is it true that you have been trying to work with Rajinikanth for 15 years?

Rajini sir called me after Ghajini and that's when I met him for the first time. He has the habit of congratulating and blessing directors who deliver good movies. After the release of Sivaji (2007), he had evinced interest in working with me. But then I got an opportunity to remake Ghajini in Hindi. Our planned collaboration kept getting delayed and he got busy with Enthiran (2010) and other projects.

From childhood, we have been amazed by Rajini sir. I didn't want to lose the opportunity to work with him. My friends and relatives were elated to know the news about my project with him. I started feeling pressure suddenly (laughs). Rajini sir will drop a project even in the final stage if he doesn't like the script. I zeroed in on the story of Darbar quite early.

The trailer promises the quintessential Rajinikanth movie. What can we expect from Darbar?

I have infused the kind of elements I would expect from Rajini sir as an audience. Darbar is an updated movie that will connect with the current generation.

This is your first cop movie. Rajinikanth is looking powerful as an aggressive cop. What kind of character has he played?

The film talks about the issues faced by a city like Mumbai. It's topical.

There are two types of cops — those who are puppets in the hands of the powerful and those who have integrity and individuality. The latter are lionized in our society and films.

I am a father myself; therefore, when the Hyderabad cops killed Disha's rapists in an encounter, I felt happy. When cops give exemplary and instant justice, the public admires them.

Also read: The lynch-mob mentality

Just as the Hyderabad cops killed the rapists at the spot where the crime took place, something similar is shown in Darbar. We had shot the episode months before the incident took place in Hyderabad. Rajini sir himself called me up and talked about that scene after the encounters in Hyderabad.

Do you consciously make it a point to deliver a message with your movies?

For me, there should be both entertainment and message in a movie. It shouldn't be just about fun. Change doesn't take place overnight. But message-orientated films starring big names can create a sense of awareness. People will feel guilty about indulging in misdeeds. Darbar is in that zone.

What about the punch lines?

When Rajini sir delivers a line in his style, it acquires aura. You will find hero-elevating lines in Darbar. He has elevated several moments with his grace.

Rajinikanth is described as a dedicated actor. What have you learned by observing him?

We have shot the film realistically. For example, a scene was shot in actual rain. Rajini sir wasn't reluctant even a bit to step into the rain and pull off the scene. His energy would infect others on the set.

Rajini sir advises me to focus on my work and refrain from thinking about unnecessary things like competition. As a spiritual person, he has given me valuable suggestions.

Tell us about the supporting cast. Nayanthara and Suniel Shetty, what do we expect from them?

I got to work with Nayanthara after years! Although she is much younger than Rajini sir, the pair looks awesome. It's magical. Since this is primarily a hero-versus-villain film, her character is more about entertainment.

Suniel Shetty sir has played a strong villain in the movie, matching up to Rajini sir's heroism. As for Anirudh's BGM, it is superb.

How was it working with Lyca Productions, one of the most prestigious production houses in the country today? Were you under a lot of pressure?

Pressure is always there because you have to be amazing when you are doing a superstar's movie. Lyca is in corporate business in about 25 countries. A visit to Subaskaran sir's office once made me admire how his British subordinates were calling him 'Sir, Sir'. There was a time when the British used to rule us, right? Subaskaran-garu is a passionate producer. I am glad that NV Prasad-garu, who has been a long-time friend, is producing the Telugu version. He is like family. My association with him goes beyond cinema.