Raj Arjun
Raj Arjun Image Credit: Supplied

Indian actor Raj Arjun, who recently garnered praise for playing Sai Baba in ‘Sabka Sai’, will now be seen in ‘Thalaivii’ playing real-life politico RM Veerappan.

Helmed by director Vijay, the film is set for a theatrical release on September 10 in the UAE, and has been in the news for the film’s lead star, Kangana Ranaut, taking on the might of multiplexes in India to secure a release for her film in theatres.

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Raj Arjun in Thalaivii Image Credit: Supplied

The biopic traces the life of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, J Jayalalithaa, chronicling her journey from an actress, rising up the echelons of Indian politics and turning into a revolutionary leader for her people.

Veerappan, who also started out in the Tamil Nadu film industry as a movie producer and screenwriter went on to become the founder and leader of the MGR Kazhagam party. His relationship with Jayalalithaa remained fraught and uneasy over their time in politics.

Arjun, who shot to fame starring in ‘Secret Superstar’, spoke about tracing Veerappan’s life on celluloid.

Actress Kangana Ranaut in Thalaivii Image Credit: ANI

“It was a long journey because we started shooting before pandemic then it stopped and later we finally completed. But it was a great shoot and a long journey of real lives and characters and one has to be very conscious about portraying a real life character and maintain that thin line. So on the whole, I’m satisfied on playing RM Veerappan,” said Arjun.

Talking about his rapport with director Vijay, Arjun couldn’t contain his excitement: “It was a great experience because I have worked with lots of good actors in this film and one of my favourite director Vijay whom I share a bond since 14 years now. And we have worked together in few films.

“He is like a magician who creates magic in each and every frame of his films he works. I thoroughly enjoyed being with him and his presence make you feel very happy that you are in best hands. He gives a lot of respect and immense love to everyone and is something extra ordinary. I wish to work with him again in future as well.”

Kangana Ranaut on Thalaivi set
Kangana Ranaut on Thalaivi set Image Credit: Twitter

Arjun added that he was finally content that ‘Thalaivii’ was getting the release it deserved in cinemas. “I’m pretty calm, peaceful and composed because I know that it’s a very unique and creative masterpiece kind of work coming out. So there’s no worries or doubt about it and I’m really sure in that way. You always feel joyous when your work, which is close to your heart, has a spice of creativity and is worthwhile. This is my first time to demonstrate a character like this therefore audience will see a different aspect of my work which fills my heart with satisfaction because an actor always desires to showcase his versatility. I’m happy that all my work are coming out one by one and all of them are different from each other. It is totally contrast from what I have done before.”

When quizzed about the lessons he learned from Jayalalithaa’s illustrious life, Arjun appeared to sit back in awe.

“I was not very much aware of Jayalalithaa ji’s life and when I started doing this film, I realised how much struggle she went through and that too alone.

“She faced so many challenges, trauma and finally won the battle with lots of dignity and grace. The way she came up from a normal family and she became a heroine then a big politician the whole big journey in one life. So I have immense respect for Jayalalithaa ji. Because it is very tough to survive in this world alone but she made it big as fighter.”

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Raj Arjun in Thalaivii Image Credit: Supplied

“It is commendable and I really respect her journey. Whatsoever happens in your life, having the challenging spirit with no looking back. You should not deprive or go down but stand and fight back. That’s what I have taken back and made an envision in my life,” Arjun added.

Who was RM Veerappan, the character Raj Arjun is playing in the film?

RM Veerappan or RMV, as he was often called, was the founder and leader of the MGR Kazhagam party. Starting out in the Tamil Nadu film industry as a producer and screenwriter with Dravidian ideologies, Veerappan met popular actor Maruthur Gopala Ramachandran or MGR in 1953, going on to work with him in a series of film projects before they stepped into politics. RMV used MGR’s superstar status to promote the DMK before MGR quit the party. Following the split, it was RMV who coordinated with MGR’s fan clubs and helped start the AIADMK party. Following the death of MGR in 1987, the party broke up into two factions where the larger faction was headed by him, while the second was headed by J Jayalalithaa who had a close and personal relationship with MGR. RMV later reconciled with Jayalalithaa and went on to become the Joint General Secretary of the party.