Aishwaryaa R. Dhanush speaks to Sudhish Kamath on balancing family and filmmaking, her influences and being her father's daughter

She maybe the first daughter of the film industry but she prefers to sign off as Aishwaryaa R. Dhanush, retaining only the Superstar's initial.

“I was very clear about that from the beginning. I wanted to have an identity of my own,” says Aishwaryaa, warming up to an interview. “That does not mean I don't appreciate what God has given me or I don't enjoy the surnames I come with. Even while I was in school, I always wanted to just be called Aishwaryaa...”

She likes to keep it simple, until recently, she didn't even give interviews. “I hadn't given any interview because I wanted ‘3’ to be a quiet film. I was scared when ‘Kolaveri' went viral.”

She's still hasn't got a chance to take a holiday with her sons six-year-old Yatra and Linga who is barely two.

How different is it being a mother from being a filmmaker, we ask. “Not very different,” she says thoughtfully. “You kind of give everything you have to it but I would put being a mother first. It gets tough at times doing both but I wouldn't say I am doing something great. It's not easy but it makes a difference if you plan your day and if you have the right support system. That way I am quite blessed.”

She wrote the script when she was still pregnant with Linga. “I first made it as a short film of 42 minutes. It was very amateur, made with a DV camera. I didn't have the pressure of coping with producers or budgets. I took my own sweet time to finish it.”

She can't remember when exactly she decided to be a filmmaker. “I've always wanted to,” she says. Aishwaryaa did her early schooling in a Bangalore convent, staying with her mother's parents. “I have always wanted to do something on my own. I feel my mind works too much. If I leave myself idle, I will be a problem to everyone around. And in a creative process like filmmaking, you can create your own characters, you can make people do want you want them to do, you live through other characters... that has always intrigued me to be a filmmaker.”

She credits her parents for ensuring that she and her sister had a normal childhood. “Till my early teens, we didn't even realise we had such a great father. When he came home, he was just a father. There was no aura around him. We would go out to the beach, sit out and eat. We could go wherever we wanted and be ourselves because our parents didn't give out our pictures. But we had a strict childhood. We never had sleepovers. Ever. My first visit to a disco was after I was married.”

Has she ever been scared of her father? “I have a lot of respect. You can't really achieve anything by being scared of anyone. Whatever we have done is only out of respect. When you know you are the Superstar's daughter, and there are people outside who are longing to be a part of his life, you really know where to draw the line. There are certain things you have to give up, nothing big.”

Did she ever rebel or fight for her love?

“My parents had a love marriage,” she smiles. “So I didn't have any reason to rebel. They've brought me up by thinking ‘This is what we think is right or wrong but you decide.' They have always left the decision to me.”

She can't wait to get started again on another film. And this time, she wants to do it without her husband's help. “In fact, I keep telling everyone I feel so much at home on the sets than at home. This is where I was meant to be.”

Her Support System

Dhanush: The Husband/Hero

“I have known him for nine years. He was the first person to give me the confidence that I could do it. If I say anything more, it will be like I am bragging about him.”

Latha Rajnikant: The Mother

“For a girl, no matter what, whoever you leave your child with, unless you leave your kids with your mother, you never feel that secure. It's that kind of help, support and security for my children that I need for me to work.”

Rajnikant: The Father

“I felt a certain emptiness when he had to go to London for the shooting of “Kochadaiyaan” when “3” was releasing. He saw the version without the sound mix and he watched it as a father instead of a critic or a senior in the industry or a performer himself. He didn't expect so much. He was very touched.”

Selvaraghavan: The Guru

“It's a cliché but it's the truth when I say he's been my friend, philosopher and guide. He's like a second father to me, I learnt immensely from working under him and he made me an emotionally strong and bold person. If people say “3” is like a Selva film, I can't help it because I worked under him. But as far as the film was concerned, I didn't even show it to him till it was complete because I wasn't ready for criticism. I didn't know if I could handle it.”

Kasturi Raja: Producer/Father-in-Law

“He was very sweet when he said, ‘When my daughter-in-law is being launched, why should I let someone else launch her, let me do it. I have to thank my in-laws for supporting me.”

Soundarya Rajnikant: The Sister

“Our genres are so far apart. I still don't know what the story of ‘Kochadaiyaan' is. She didn't know what the story of ‘3' was. It's nice to keep it this way. We were always friends. We don't cuddle and hug every day. It's like ‘I know you are there for me and I am there for you'.”