September 8, 2010 (Calcutta Tube): Nothing is the limit for Rajnikanth when it comes to experimenting with his on-screen avatars. The 60-year-old is now set to play a robot in Endhiran: The Robot. The southern superstar is all wits as he tells TWF correspondent Sreya Basu how thankful he is to have Aishwarya as his heroine in the film
Now we will see Rajnikanth play a robot?
I am really grateful to my well-wishers, fans and media for their confidence in me for playing this larger-than-life character (Endhiran: The Robot).
How did Robot happen to you?
Shankar (director) is one of the best directors in India. He can perfectly mix commercial elements with art in a film. He is an excellent technician as well. While I was working on his film Sivaji, he offered me Robot. By the time I finished Sivaji, I started understanding him and his vision. It was only then I agreed to play Robot; else I would have declined. This is a very tough character to play….a very challenging role.
We heard that you were not the first choice for the film…
You are right. Kamal Hassan was supposed to do the character. Even I heard Shah Rukh Khan was to do the film. But something didn’t work out…you see, daane daane par likha hota hai khane wale ka naam.
Robot is being publicized as the biggest budget film in Indian cinema. True?
Yes. Robot, made with Rs 150-160 crore, is the biggest budget film ever made in Indian celluloid. But see, big budget, big casting or technical excellence alone cannot make a film a big hit. Take for example: Sholay. It is a historic film…a mega hit, not only because of the money (budget), or because it was a multi-starrer, or technical excellence. Sholay is Sholay because of its subject, the sentiments, human emotions portrayed by the characters…Gabbar, Jai, Veeru, Basanti. Similarly, in Robot, excellent storyline is there. Shankar has created excellent characters, love triangle. It’s amazing! So, all these Rs 150-160 crores, technical brilliance, casting added to it to make the film first of its kind on Indian screen. We have enjoyed the film, so definitely you will also find it interesting. I am guaranteeing it.
How is it working with Aishwarya (Rai Bachchan)?
I thank Aishwaryaji from the bottom of my heart for accepting me as a hero opposite her. I am not exaggerating. Recently I was at my brother’s place when his Rajasthani neighbour came to see me. He was over 60 years old. He asked me what happened to my hair. I said sadly: Sab jhar gaaye…chodo yaar. Then he asked if I have retired from films. I told him I am working on a film called Robot. He seemed very excited and asked me who is the heroine. I said, Aishwarya. He got excited and started praising her….she is fantastic, kamala ki ladki hai, et cetera. Then, he asked me who is the hero? And the expressions he had when I told him that I am playing the lead!!! He didn’t speak a single word in the next ten minutes…he just kept staring at me. Later, as he was leaving, I overheard him as saying ‘What has happened to Aishwarya? Why she is working opposite him (Rajnikanth)!’
It was after years that we saw you and Amitabh Bachchan on the same dais (at Robot music launch in Mumbai). Do you have plans to do a film with him?
I would love to. Amitji (Amitabh Bachchan) is my inspiration, my role model, my guru. I can’t forget the days when I shared screen with him in films like Andha Kanoon, Giraftaar, Hum. Amitji bestowed so much love, care and affection on me….I can’t forget that in my lifetime.