‘Thalapathy’ shoot: When Kamal helped Rajini outsmart Mani Ratnam!


Tamil Superstar Rajinikanth has now disclosed how actor Kamal Haasan helped him outsmart director Mani Ratnam while shooting for the blockbuster ‘Thalapathy’.

Speaking at the audio and trailer launch of director Mani Ratnam’s magnum opus ‘Ponniyin Selvan 1’, Rajinikanth said: “I wish to share one or two incidents with you now about what happened while working with Mani Ratnam.

“It was the first day of shooting of ‘Thalapathy’. The shooting was happening in Mysore and I arrived at around midnight from Bombay where I had been shooting for a Hindi film. The next morning, I went for make-up and the make-up man said that no make-up was to be put on for me. ‘Just put some foundation,’ is what I was told. I was concerned. I was acting with Mammootty, who looked like a fresh apple. I eventually agreed.

“Then came the question of costumes. The customer arrived with a pair of loose pants and shirts. I told him,’ What is this? Go, tighten the clothes and bring them to me.’. The customer tried to explain, ‘Sir, sir has asked…’. I said to tighten and bring them to me.’ He hesitantly responded.

“Then came the issue of footwear. They had slippers for me, so I asked them, ‘What is this?’ I was wearing my walking shoes. I told them I would shoot them.

“So, when I went before Mani Ratnam for the shot, he asked me, ‘Please change into your costume.’ I told him that I was in costume. He looked at me, from top to bottom, and hesitantly agreed.

“The scene was to be shot on the banks of a river and it was to feature Shobana and me. For a long time, both Shobana and I were ready and, in our positions, waiting for shooting to roll but nothing happened. Director Mani Ratnam, his wife Suhasini, and some other members of the crew were engaged in a deep consultation for a long time.

“Actress Shobana, the prankster that she is, asked me, ‘What are they discussing for so long, sir? Are they planning to remove you and put Kamal Haasan instead?” Eventually, the shot was taken.

“The next day, when my make-up man arrived, I told him, ‘No make-up. They have told me not to put on any makeup.’ I wore the loose clothes and slippers they wanted me to wear and began work.

“But then, shooting was difficult. Every shot would require 12 or 13 takes and I was getting frustrated. The issue was I had stocked expressions that I would use in films. I had ready-made expressions for love, surprise, fear, doubt… When I used them, Mani Ratnam would not agree. He would say, ‘You feel, feel…’

“In my mind, I would wonder what ‘feel, feel…’. So, after a while, when I could no longer handle it, I called up Kamal Haasan and said that it was proving too difficult.

“Kamal laughed on the phone and said, ‘I knew it. I too faced the same problem. I will give you a suggestion. When he asks you to do something, ask him to enact it and show it. Then, sit and pretend to brood over it and then exactly replicate what he does and the shot will be okayed.'”

“I did what Kamal said. I would ask Mani Ratnam to enact what he wanted me to do. Pretend as if I was deep in thought, thinking about the scene while smoking cigarettes and finally, reproducing what he had done, exactly in the same fashion. The shot would be okayed.”

Saying this, Rajinikanth turned to Kamal Haasan, who was standing beside him on stage, and said, ‘Thank You Kamal’, even as Mani Ratnam roared with laughter from the audience.

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