Rajini and more…

There’s one more person overjoyed at all the talk surrounding Superstar’s Kochadaiiyaan — actor Aadhi. The hero with typical Mills and Boon looks and a deep, rich voice travels back in time yet again with this film, where he plays Prince Veera Mahendra. Last year, audiences saw him in Vasanthabalan’s period drama Aravaan , where Aadhi punished his body to look the part of a man condemned to die.

Months after Aravaan , Aadhi signed up for this film, a chance for him to share screen space with his childhood idol, Rajinikanth. “I was very excited and nervous. On day one of shooting, we shared the same vanity van. I heard his voice through the partition… The prospect of shooting with him was nerve-wracking. But, he put me at ease immediately. His first question was ‘How tall are you?’” says Aadhi. Their introduction scene required Aadhi to drape his arms around Rajinikanth’s shoulders. “I just could not bring myself to do it, initially,” he recalls. “We were just two people on a platform; 150 crew members were looking at us. There were no props to bank on. You had to get it right as an actor. Sir gave me confidence.”

Aadhi shot for about six days for this film directed by Soundarya Rajinikanth-Ashwin. “More than anything else, what drew me to the film was the chance to be part of something very new in the industry,” says Aadhi, who spent most of 2013 listening to scripts. “People are looking differently at cinema, and newer kinds of scripts are being written. I want to be part of that,” he says.

Going against the grain

Aadhi has always strived to go against the grain. His debut in Mirugam is proof of that. Aravaan also happened because of his keenness to do something different. “Sadly, it did not do too well. I am incredibly proud of the film. Those who saw it loved it,” he says. The year 2013 also saw the release of his Telugu-Tamil bilingual Gundello Godari/Marandhaen Mannithaen , where he shared screen space with Lakshmi Manchu and Taapsee Pannu. “It was such a brilliant thought. I loved the concept. It did well in Telugu.”

The talk slowly veers towards Kochadaiiyaan . “It did upset me when people called it a cartoon film. It’s so much more. Once they see it, they will know what a great achievement it is. I remember my grandfather telling me about how people reacted when regular movies replaced silent movies. Every new technology creates confusion in the minds of people before they accept it,” says Aadhi, who believes he was chosen to play the prince because of Aravaan .

The film also instilled in him the desire to learn Tamil, in depth. “I studied in a school where we would be fined for speaking Tamil! Recently, I saw this Facebook forward on Lord Macaulay and Indian education. That hit me hard. We are so far removed from our culture, our roots. Now, I work with tutors to appreciate Tamil better.”

A home production

Aadhi’s next is Yagavarayinum Naa Kaakka , a home production directed by his elder brother Sathya Prabhas Pinisetty. Aadhi says he’s learning production on the job. “Marketing a film well is vital. There is stiff competition. We must push a film. Promoting is as important as making a movie,” he says.

He’s also listened to a couple of scripts. “Last year, I rejected five films of which two went on to do well. I felt bad, but…” he says. Aadhi was scarred when he chose certain commercial projects that flopped miserably. “I realised that it was not me in those films,” he says. That was also why he refused a spate of Madurai-centric films that came his way after Mirugam . “I want to do films that the audience will like, but surprise them with something they don’t expect from me. I hate predictability. So, I’ve learnt to say ‘no’.”

Among his real-life heroes is actor-producer Vijay Sethupathi. “He’s so sure about what he’s doing. I admire his clarity and his ability to tap his strengths.”

Speaking about Yagavarayinum … Aadhi says the film is based on a real-life incident that happened in Chennai. “My brother was part of it. We’ve added more elements to the script. It has romance, thrill and comedy too.”

The film is very special to Aadhi because the brothers rediscovered themselves during shooting. “We are both the strong, silent types,” laughs Aadhi. “We would never express our love, though we would protect each other. We are like born-again brothers now.”