Darbar', coming in the direction of 'Ghajini' and 'Thuppaki' helmer AR Murugadoss, has the legendary Rajinikanth in the lead. Presented by Subaskaran of Lyca Productions, which bankrolls huge movies, this film has the Superstar in the role of a cop named Aditya Arunachalam. To hit the screens as a Sankranthi treat, it will be released by the famous producer NV Prasad in the Telugu States. The film will hit the screens as a Sankranthi special, on January 9.
Ahead of its release, director AR Murugadoss has spoken about the film, what to expect, why it's going to tick with the audience and more. Read on...
How did this project fall into place? Superstar Rajinikanth has said that he had been wanting to work with you for 15 years.
Rajini sir called me after 'Ghajini' and that's when I met him for the first time. He has the habit of congratulating and blessing directors who deliver good movies. After the release of 'Shivaji', he evinced interest in working with me. It's then that I got an opportunity to remake 'Ghajini' in Hindi. Our planned collaboration kept on getting delayed, with Rajini garu getting busy with 'Robo' and other projects later.
From childhood, we have been amazed by Rajini sir. I didn't want to lose the opportunity to work with him at any cost. My friends and relatives were elated on knowing the news about my project with the Superstar. I started feeling pressure suddenly (Laughs). Rajini sir will drop a project even in the final stage if he doesn't like the script. I zeroed in on the story of 'Darbar' quite early.
The trailer of 'Darbar' makes us think that it's a full-on, pakka commercial entertainer. What can we expect from the movie?
I have infused the kind of elements I would expect from Rajini sir as an audience. 'Darbar' is an updated movie that will connect with the current generation.
This is your first cop movie. Rajinikanth is looking powerful as an aggressive cop. What kind of a character has he played in the movie?
The film does talk about the issues faced by a city like Mumbai. It's topical. There are two types of cops - those who are puppets in the hands of the powerful, and those who have integrity and individuality. The latter are lionized in our society and films.
I am a father myself; therefore, when the Hyderabad cops killed Disha's rapists in an encounter, I felt happy. When cops give exemplary and instant justice, the public admires them. Just as the Hyderabad cops killed the rapists at the spot where the crime took place, something similar is shown in 'Darbar'. We had shot the episode months before the incident took place in Hyderabad. Rajini sir himself called me up and talked about that scene after the encounters in Hyderabad.
We have high expectations from punch lines. Because it's Rajini himself!
When Rajini sir delivers a line in his style, it acquires aura. You will find hero-elevating lines and such in 'Darbar'. He has elevated several moments with his grace.
Do you consciously make it a point to deliver a message with your movies?
For me, there should be both entertainment and message in a movie. It shouldn't be just about fun. Change doesn't take place overnight. But message-oriented films starring big names can create a sense of awareness. People will feel guilty about indulging in misdeeds. 'Darbar' is that zone.
Rajinikanth is described as a dedicated actor. What have you learned by observing him?
We have shot the film realistically. For example, a scene was shot in actual rain. Rajini sir wasn't reluctant even a bit to step into the rain and pull off the scene. His energy would infect others on the set. Rajini sir advises me to focus on my work and refrain from thinking about unnecessary things like competition. As a spiritual person, he has given me valuable suggestions.
Tell us about Nayanthara and Suneil Shetty and what to expect from them.
I got to work with Nayanthara after years. Although she is much younger than Rajini sir, the pair looks awesome. It's magical. Since this is primarily a hero-vs-villain film, her character is more about entertainment. Suneil Shetty sir has played a strong villain in the movie, matching up to Rajini sir's heroism. As for Anirudh's BGM, it is superb.
How was it working with Lyca Productions, one of the most prestigious production houses in the country? Did you feel pressure?
Pressure is always there because you have to be amazing when you are doing a superstar's movie. Lyca is into corporate business in about 25 countries. A visit to Subaskaran sir's office once made me admire how his British subordinates were calling him 'Sir, Sir'. There was a time when Britishers used to rule us, right? Subaskaran garu is a passionate producer. I am glad that NV Prasad garu, who has been a long-time friend, is producing the Telugu version. He is like family. My association with him goes beyond cinema.