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” Karthik Subbaraj Whose Dream-Project With Rajinikanth Petta Is On Release, Speaks To Subhash K Jha

“Rajini  Sir Insisted  On Calling Me  Sir  On The Sets,on  the  pleasures  of being a Rajini fanboy turned  his director.

Just  hours   away  from release…Are  you nervous ?

Yeah,now that it’s finally happening I am nervous  and  anxious. It’s  very mixed feelings. But for me  the  most important thing right  now  is  to go watch the  film with the audience. I’ve to join Rajini Sir’s fans in the  theatres because I will be watching Petta not as  a filmmaker  but a fan.

Will be you  watching  it first day first show?

I watch  all  his films the  first day. Now I will be watching my own  film with Rajini Sir. It’s  unbelievable . I will be watching it the entire day  on Thursday(on  release). I’ve watched it a hundred  times  during editing.  Now I want to  see what  the  reaction would be to specific shots and dialogues.I  just want  to see  the  audiences’ reaction. This   is  the moment I’ve been  waiting  for. For  me this  like  a  dream come  true.I’ve grown up watching Rajini  Sir’s films.I am big fanboy….I guess everyone is(laughs), at  least  in the South. When  I started making films my first  wish was to show them to  Rajini  Sir.By God’s grace I’ve been  able to  go far beyond my  dream.

So has he seen your  previous films?

Yes, he saw  my first film  Pizza  and  called me to say  he liked it. Then he  saw Jigarthanda.After that we met.When he  expressed his appreciation for my work I gained the confidence  to be  able to make  a film with him. Three years  back I pitched  the script  for Petta  to him. He  liked  the script.And he said he will work  in  my film. But we didn’t agree  on  a time frame.

You  mean he said he’d do it when he had the time?

Yes. Rajini Sir knew  I wrote Petta  for him. Even he felt only  he  could do this script.  So we were  in the safe zone with each other.

Rajinikanth’s 2: 0 is  still running in theatres. Now  Petta…isn’t it coming too soon?

I don’t think  so. Petta is Rajini Sir’s  60th  film. He has  40 years  of experience. He  is  way above  all these strategies. He is still so energetic  and inspiring.

But wouldn’t there be an overlap in the theatres?

Well, come theatres in Tamil Nadu are going to  continue playing 2: 0. But I don’t see that as problem  for Petta. His fans just can’t get enough of  him. Besides,it’s Pongal.

There are  5-6 major Pongal  releases  in  the South. Aren’t they going to eat  into each other?

In Tamil Nadu it’s two films only,Rajini Sir’s and  Ajith Sir’s.  In Telugu, there are three major films.But this Pongal  we have an extended  holiday  , from 10th  till the 18th. This is the  longest holiday ever for Pongal. People are in a festive  mood  and they’d love to  go see  movies with their entire family ,specially since  the Pongal  releases this year all   feature  big  stars.

Since you are  a fan was  it difficult  for you to direct Rajinikanth?

I was very anxious and  eager to make  him comfortable.  But from day 1 he made me comfortable.After the  first day’s shooting he   called me  and  said he liked working  with me and my team.That spirit  remained  till the  last day. And mind  it, it was a very tough shooting schedule. But he was so cool. He  even called  me ‘Karthik Sir’ on the sets.  When I protested he   said, ‘Look,  on the sets  you are the captain and you must get that respect.’ I pleaded  with him not  to  call me ‘Sir’.But  not a single day on the sets  did he  call my name without adding  ‘Sir’ to it.

What did  you  think of him as an actor?

Dedicated, inspiring,  exceptional.And  so  sincere  . His  selfdiscipline  is motivational.He prepares  for  every scene. If it’s an important scene he begins to make inquiries  from a day before.  He’s  so involved.It’s amazing.

Has he  done his own action scenes?

Yes ,  he has done  all the stunts. And he has some very elaborate dancing to do.   You have  to see his energy level. I felt he was younger than me. Petta  is   a proper masala  entertainer  , the  kind Rajini Sir’s fans enjoy  the most. There’s no politics  in this film at all. This time he  is  only an entertainer. So  this is  his most massy  film in recent times.

You  have two  established  heroines Trisha  and Simran in Petta. Do  they  enough  to do?

They have well-established characters  to play. But Petta  is obviously not about them. It  is Rajini Sir’s  film. But the  heroines are  no props. They move forward  the story.Also  I wanted  the heroines to look well-matched   with Rajini Sir.

Finally, Nawazuddin?

(lights up) I am  a big fan of his. According to  me  he looks South Indian. I  was  confident he  could  pull off  a South Indian character. He was worried   about  the Tamil lines. He put in a  lot  of effort to  say  his Tamil  lines with feeling. But he hasn’t dubbed  his own lines  in the Tamil version . But you can say in his performance  that he  understands  his lines.

Your closing  thoughts?

I want to say to the audience…..It’s Pongal and it’s time to have a  good time with Rajini  Sir.

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