Mani Sir is an institution: Aishwarya Rai


In her latest film Raavan in Hindi and Raavanan in Tamil, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan plays Ragini, the wife of a police officer who is abducted.

It’s a role which involved working in tough terrain, heavy rains and amongst creatures of the jungle. In this interview, she speaks about her role, the challenges of working in a bilingual and her co-artists. Excerpts of a teleconference.

All about your character in Raavan and Raavanan
There has been a lot of talk that my character is based on a modern day Sita from “Ramayan”, which is not true. I think all the stories can be drawn parallel to our epics because at the end it is all about inter-personal relationship. My character Ragini is Mani’s perception of this strong willed woman abducted by Beera. And the story is about the dynamics between the three characters- Beera, Dev and Ragini.

You have come a long way from Iruvar to Raavanan
I came into cinema, thanks to Mani Ratnam. His passion and commitment is totally inspiring. And above all he makes every moment and scene real. The first word I uttered on screen is Pesanum (I want to talk), in Iruvar and since then I have been talking. His characterization is superb. In Raavanan, I play Ragini an individual and markedly different from Sujata of Guru or Kalpana or Pushpa from Iruvar. Ragini is a firebrand, a fighter and yet a normal complete woman.

About Mani Ratnam, the master filmmaker
Mani Sir is an institution in himself and his cinema speaks volumes. There is so much we can learn from him. It’s just wonderful how he brings everybody on the same level of passion and madness when it comes to filmmaking. With Mani it is being the student of art you want to learn more. He ignites the hunger in you as an actor, wanting to do something better with every shot.

Abhishek and Vikram have said in their interviews that you are the true hero of the film. Please comment
That is very sweet and generous of them but they have both have done an incredible job. But I think the real heroes are the whole team of Raavan, the set designers, workers, everyone who was on the set everyday, working as hard, if not more than us. We used to start at five every morning and end at night. It was exhausting. We have all worked hard.

How was it working with Vikram and Prithviraj?
We fondly refer to Vikram we as Kenny sir and I think I got familiar with that name because Abhishek always called him that since the time he had come to visit Abhishek on the sets of Guru. One thing that Abhishek and I consciously did but left unsaid was we never acted like a couple in front of Vikram or it would have been hard for him to essay his role opposite me. Prithvi is absolutely adorable. At the start of the schedule we used to tease him because he seemed a bit reserved but after the first schedule he came into his own and was right on the ball.


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