With her aquiline features, glowing skin, sartorial style and confident air, she could pass as a movie star, except that she prefers to be known as the wife of a popular movie star and the daughter of a legendary one.
We’re talking of Aishwarya Dhanush, wife of Tamil actor Dhanush and daughter of the king of Tamil cinema, Rajnikanth. The soft-spoken, creative young woman came into her own last year when she directed ‘3’, the Tamil film starring Dhanush and Kamal Hassan’s daughter Shruti Hassan. The movie, of course, is well-known for the song ‘Kolaveri Di’, which became a viral hit and later led to the film’s box-office success as well.
‘3’ was one of the first commercial movies to be screened at the Kerala International Film Festival in Trivandrum, a festival noted for screening serious, avant-garde movies. Aishwarya also attended the event and Chennai’s star couple created waves at the film festival.
Q: Did you think you would enter the film industry so soon?
A: I was a student of law as my grandmother wanted me to be a lawyer. But my passion has always been movies. I learnt classical dance, loved taking photographs and made several short films too. So, it was only a matter of time before I got involved in a big way.
Is that why you married a movie star?
Well, I just happened to fall for him! Dhanush is a movie star, but like my father, he’s very different. In fact, I saw a lot of my father’s qualities in him. He’s simple, down-to-earth and respects his work a lot.
Is your father is a big influence on you?
Of course. But as far as my sister and I are concerned, dad was just dad at home and never brought his stardom home. Of course, he was very busy which was why our mother brought us up in as natural a manner as possible. She was the one who kept the whole family together.
Is it a lot pressure, being his daughter?
It’s not a pressure, but a responsibility.
What are the highs and lows?
It’s definitely a high and I feel very blessed to be his daughter. But there is the loss of privacy in our lives, which is a price we need to pay.
Your father must be proud of the success of your first film?
Yes, very proud, although it took a while for it all to sink in!
How did ‘3’ happen?
It was originally meant to be a short film. But when Dhanush read the script, he felt it was very interesting and could be stretched into a feature film. So I just went along with the flow.
Tell us about the story.
Well,it was an interesting genre — a romantic thriller, which we made in Tamil and Telugu.
Wasn’t it dubbed in Hindi?
Yes it was, but we didn’t know how to market or distribute it as a Hindi film. We discovered that it was a different game altogether. If I faced problems with my background, I wonder how the others manage. I’m now studying the market and the scenario as I would love to make a Hindi film.
Isn’t your husband going to do a Hindi film?
Yes, he’s doing a Bollywood film, ‘Raanjhnaa’, directed by Anand Rai, followed by a bilingual film by Bharat Bala, which is going to be made in Tamil and Hindi. He’s polishing up his Hindi for these films. He’s very choosy about his movies and is not doing too many although he gets many offers.
He’s also a singer — how did the ‘Kolaveri Di’ song happen?
That was something that happened unexpectedly like the film. We were working on the song with composer Anirudh Ravichander, who studied in A.R. Rahman’s music school. I wanted something different and that was when Dhanush brought in the ‘Tanglish’ words. We decided to incorporate them and the whole composition took about a week to put together. I never expected Dhanush to pull it off, but he did.
Did you expect the song to be such a hit ?
Not at all because we didn’t put the song on YouTube, someone else did. Soon after that, the song spread to every part of the world, it was crazy! I think the magic of the song lay in its lyrics. Needless to say, many people came to watch the film because of this song.
I have two scripts in mind — a thriller and a drama. It’s only after I develop them fully that I will make my next move.
Does Dhanush encourage you?
Yes. Being a film-maker, I do have differences of opinion with him, but we have discussions.
Who are the filmmakers you admire?
I love Mani Ratnam’s movies. I also deeply admire Steven Spielberg.
Your sister is also making a film.
Yes. My sister Soundarya is making an animation film ‘Kochadiyaan’ where my father is lending his voice.
What do you think of film festivals?
I think they’re very important. I also think they should find a space for commercial cinema so that the audiences have a wider choice. I’m very happy that my film ‘3’ could participate in an excellent festival like the Kerala International Film Festival. They screened outdoors to a huge audience and it was a wonderful experience.
Your choice of clothes was much admired at the festival.
Well, I’m comfortable in all kinds of clothes — Indian, Western, casual, formal. I shop for them wherever I go.
I hear you enjoy travelling and shopping?
Yes. I enjoy Singapore and London. I’ve been to Dubai many times and enjoy shopping there.
How do you relax as a family?
It happens only on the weekends. We usually visit my parents with the kids and go out for a lunch buffet. Our kids Yatra and Linga are six and two-and-half years old. I’m trying to bring them up as naturally, as my mother did.