Rukmini Vasanth believes in the domino effect. “You do things randomly and you don’t know where it takes you,” she says, explaining how she bagged exciting opportunities in her budding career. Even as the actor is busy shooting for an untitled Tamil film with Vijay Sethupathi, Rukmini is awaiting the release of Sapta Sagaradaache Ello (SSE), the biggest film of her career yet.
“I still don’t know the genesis of the Vijay Sethupathi film,” says the Bengaluru girl. “I was speaking with the film’s assistant director, and he said he had seen me in a Malayalam hair oil advertisement that I had done in 2018. So I believe you got to keep trying, and something will come out of your efforts. That’s how it happened in my case. A Tamil team saw an advertisement I had done in Malayalam and felt I could fit into a role in their film,” she says.
It is remarkable how a one-film-old actress has managed to be part of upcoming big projects in Kannada, such as, Bhagheera, bankrolled by KGF franchise makers Hombale Films, Bhairathi Ranagal starring veteran Shivarajkumar and Baanadariyalli, a romantic drama starring Ganesh. Grabbing a role in SSE proved to be the game-changer for Rukmini as it opened the doors to other films. She says she went all out to get the role in SSE.
“I saw an article in the newspaper that said the SSE team was auditioning for the female lead role. I had my eyes on this project since March 2019, when they released the title poster. I loved it and even shared it on social media, congratulating them. When they were looking for a lead, I took a shot in the dark and messaged them, adding my credentials. Ten days later, they got in touch, and I was selected after the audition. I chased the role with everything I had.”
SSE, starring Rakshit Shetty, Chaithra J Achar and directed by Hemanth Rao, is a romantic drama set to release in two parts. The first part releases on September 1, while the second will hit the screens on October 20. “The film could trigger a movement of fresh love stories in Kannada.”
Rukmini is a promising prospect in an industry which has not had a female superstar since Ramya, who returned to cinema last year after an eight-year stint in politics. Rukmini is a trained dancer, and an alumnus of the Royal Academy of Dramatics Arts (RADA) in London.
“If I go to sets and don’t know how to begin my performance, I have a Meisner Performance Theory or a Stanislavsky Performance Theory to fall back on. Another thing I took from my RADA practice is journaling. During my classes, when I was preparing for a performance, I would journal as the character. This process helped me during the filming of SSE, as my character was intense and had many layers.”
Rukmini also draws inspiration from her parents. Her father, Col. Vasanth Venugopal, was an Ashok Chakra recipient. He was killed in combat in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir in 2007. Rukmini’s mother, Subhashini Vasanth, is a renowned Bharatanatyam dancer who set up the Vasantharatna Foundation of Arts in 2007 to support families of soldiers killed in action.
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“One thing I have tried to imbibe from my father is his discipline. It doesn’t matter when I need to be on the sets or what skills I require to be ready for a film. I will do it. I take my work seriously. I owe my dance skills to my mother.”
Kannada filmmakers hardly write solid roles for female leads. Rukmini, who debuted in a thriller titled Birbal, has a hunger for wide variety of characters. “I don’t have a problem with being in a film just for a dance number or as the love interest. How do I contribute to the film with given parameters of the script? That’s my goal. So, Baanadariyalli was a big deal for me. Preetham sir (director) was keen on me learning to surf in Mangalore and didn’t want to use a body double. That was a clincher for me. Today, I know how to surf.”
Social media, once in a while, is abuzz about Rukmini’s stills from film sets and outside of them. “I am trying to share parts about me that are genuine and see what comes out of it on social media. As for negativity on the platform, I am learning to build a thicker skin.” .