Hindi Interviews

Aishwarya Rajesh Interview: “Pointless To Work In Projects That Will Not Make An Impact”

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Aishwarya Rajesh on her Bollywood debut – Daddy – and stepping out of her comfort zone. 

Aishwarya Rajesh shot for Daddy, her Bollywood debut with director Ashim Ahluwalia and actor Arjun Rampal for just about 40 days. But, she promoted the film for 25 days, the time it would have taken to complete work on a small film. Last week, a video of her dancing at a college during the promotions went viral. She says her conviction in the importance of promoting a film well has only been reaffirmed. “I don’t understand why some people don’t promote their films. A film’s your baby, and if you don’t promote it, who will?” she asks.

In many ways, Daddy has been a huge learning curve for Aishwarya, the actress who had an unconventional debut, and topped it up with equally unusual choices.

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She’s a city girl, but known for her rustic roles, which she infuses with a rare everydayness, be it in the innocent exuberance, and later, the abject disappointment in Dharma Durai, or someone who forces herself to live with dignity despite the weariness of it all in Kaaka Muttai. Incidentally, she won the Tamil Nadu State Film Award for Best Actress for playing the mother of two boys in Kaaka Muttai. Ashim roped her in for the biopic on Mumbai gangster Arun Gawli, popularly called Daddy, to play his wife Asha Gawli. And, Aishwarya knew what the role would entail. A lot of preparation to work in a language she was not familiar with and to essay a larger-than-life character who was known to many and still around. “This was a rare opportunity, and I knew that if I did not make the most of it, it was my mistake alone,” says Aishwarya, who’s back in Chennai to watch the movie in her city with her family.

The actress used some prosthetic to look like Asha Gawli, and modelled her character based on the director’s inputs. “There is no reference material for Asha. I banked on what Ashim Sir told me. I met her 20 days ago, and she said she was very happy with what I’d done. Her daughter told me she saw her mother on screen. After that, I breathed easy,” smiles Aishwarya.

She says that both Ashim and Arjun helped her get out of her comfort zone to play Asha, constantly encouraging her and stepping in to nudge her into the zone they wanted her to inhabit. “They took such care. Even during promotions, they did not really need me, because Arjun is a huge draw himself. But, I was a vital part of the exercise, and Arjun introduced me as this ‘wonderful’ actress from Chennai. It was a lovely experience,” she says. And, irrespective of how the film fares at the box office, Aishwarya says it will be very special.

The actress is known to speak her mind, and she says she dipped into that part of her to play Asha. “I’m bold. I’ve come up the hard way. I’ve made my choices and stuck by them,” says Aishwarya, who is working on Vetrimaaran’s Vada Chennai and Gautam Vasudev Menon’s Dhruva Natchathiram.

In many ways, Aishwarya’s film choices reflect her ethos. She refuses to take up films where she has no real role to play. “I don’t mind if I appear in just a scene, but that scene must be important. I don’t see the point of working in projects that will not make an impact,” she says.

And, though she’s very stylish in real life, experimenting with cuts and fabric, she’s rarely been seen on screen in that avatar. “Hopefully soon,” she says.

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