Aishwarya is hundred times simpler than Rajini sir: Dhanush
Dhanush, 29, believes that he is a normal person like everybody else, who has made mistakes and has regrets. But he is confident that he has not hurt anybody else consciously, and has not wanted others to not do well. He is emotional and deeply sensitive. He is happy that as an actor, he can trust easily and gets betrayed easily as he needs it. He is extremely focused and believes in the energy of Shiva. Ahead of his first Bollywood film ‘Raanjhanaa’, he talks to TOI about his best friend Sonam Kapoor, the only ‘white’ human being in his life, Aanand L Rai, and why Ilaiyaraaja will always remain his favourite music director. Excerpts:
How did you get into films?
We were basically from a poor family and most of our childhood was spent in longing only. My parents came to Chennai just before I was born so that my father, who was earlier a worker in a mill in the village, could find a job. We were so poor that my mother had to run a family of six with 15 a day. We did not have a healthy diet and did not grow up on Cerelac and Farex. We survived many a time on curd rice from neighbours. Through his friends, my father joined as an assistant director and assisted for 15 years, after which he became a director. I was the youngest in my family and was given the least importance. My mother is most attached to my brother because she has the feeling that she could not provide him anything. By the time I was born, at least I got a meal and a half a day, but he sometimes got only water. When I was in Class XI, my father got to direct my first film, which had six school kids in it. The lead guy dropped out at the last minute. I was in school and 16 at that time and fit the role perfectly, so my family convinced me over a period of one week to take it up. The film did well, but I was not offered roles as I did not look star material. All the other five kids who were there with me in the film, got work but I did not. I kept blaming my father for pulling me out of my studies. My second film Kadhal Kondaen was directed by my brother Selvaraghavan that turned me overnight into a star.
Who are you most attached to?
I am most attached to my two sons —Yatra (six-years-old) and Linga (three- years-old). Yatra means pilgrimage and Linga because I am a Shiv bhakt. While I do not believe in idol worship, I believe in energy. For me, that one energy is Shiv. Down South, you are not allowed to touch the idol. This was new for me at the Kashivishawanath temple in Banaras and the experience of the arti in the evening was brilliant. Every man plays many roles. So far, I have played father the best.
How did you meet your wife Aishwarya Rajinikanth?
At the first day’s show of my film Kadhal Kondaen, we as a family went to watch it. By the interval, we were all hugging each other as we knew it would be a hit. Once the film was over, I was about to leave when the cinema owner introduced me to Rajinikanth sir’s daughters Aishwarya and Soundarya. We just said hi to each other and left. The next day, Aishwarya sent me a bouquet saying, ‘Good work. Keep in touch’. I just took that very seriously. She is two years older to me and we got married two years later after we met.
Did the fact that Aishwarya was Rajinikanth’s daughter attract you to her?
I don’t see her like that. I like her simplicity. If you think her father is simple, meet Aishwarya. She is 100 times simpler than her father. She treats everybody as an equal and can be friends with anybody. But I also like that she is extremely complicated. She is a good mother to my sons and is bringing them up extremely well.
Did you have an affair before Aishwarya?
When I was in Class XI, there was a girl whom I loved. I think until now, she is the only girl I have loved, but she dumped me. We loved each other and being 29 today, I know that it was not a high school crush. It lasted only one year and then she went to the US for her studies and I came into films. Once I came into films, I could not concentrate in studies and failed in +2. She needed to make a practical choice and I never ever blame her as I think she made the right choice. We are still in touch on mail with each other once in a while and I know that she will always feel happy for me.
How does it feel to be the son-in-law of Rajinikanth?
There is this space we give each other and have mutual respect. Our relationship is normal and respectful. If he likes a film one does not have to be his son-in-law or anything. No matter who you are, he will pick up the phone, come on line and appreciate your work. After Kadhal Kondaen, one of his guys spoke to me and called me to his farmhouse. He wanted to tell me that he appreciated my work and really liked it. As a person, he is as he is known to the world. There is no different side to him. I have always been a fan of his and still am. Anything can change in my life, but the fact that I am his fan will not change.
What do you feel about the idea of fans creating temples of their favourite stars in the South?
It is absolutely wrong and it should not happen. It is a waste of money and life. It also disrespects the energy of God.
Would you like to direct?
If Raanjhanaa did not happen, I would have directed my first film. I had finalised my script and cast for the film, but then Aanand L Rai gave me a 20-minute brief on the film and I understood what he meant and just knew I had to do it. Now, I don’t know when direction will happen.
Does failure break you down?
No, because I have nothing to lose and am secure and confident. I know my pluses and minuses and know what I am capable of or not. I just want to live up to the expectations of my directors and my sons. Right now, I have been away from my sons for a while and they just expect me to be around them that I have not been able to.
You are staying with your Raanjhanaa director Aanand L Rai in his house while you are dubbing in Mumbai. That’s unusual?
He is straight as an arrow and is extremely positive. He can only think good for everybody, even if someone harms him. In my personal life till date, he is the only ‘white’ human being I have met. Others are all grey.
Do you see yourself making a shift to Bollywood?
I don’t see the industry. I only see the film and North vs South films. I will do any good film irrespective of the language it is in.
Sonam considers you her good friend. What is she like?
There are these two Sonams. I can easily say she is my best friend in the industry. She took a lot of care and effort to make me comfortable. She was really patient when I spoke wrong Hindi on the set. You have to pass through one Sonam to understand the other Sonam and know how beautiful she is. And, I am not talking about her physical beauty. She is straight-forward and transparent and will tell you what is right or wrong. If she likes someone, she will go to any extent for that person.
Kolaveri Di made you a household name in India. Was that a fluke or music has a role in your life?
I do a lot of music down South. I write lyrics and sing Tamil songs and have a lot of interest in music right from my childhood. I can see everything with only a background score. If there is no music, I will perish. While I have not learnt music, I can play the tune that comes into my head on the keyboard.
You are doing now two films with AR Rahman — Raanjhanaa and Mariyaan. Who is your favourite music composer?
Ilaiyaraaja is my most favourite music director. His music was my lullaby, his music was my food, his music was my childhood, his music was my first love, his music was my failure, his music was my first kiss, my first love failure, my success… he is in my blood.