Like always Latha Rajinikanth cannot wait to catch the first-day-first-show of her husband, Rajinikanth’s latest release. A doting fan, she has not missed out a single first show of his movies. “We go for the love of the people. We enjoy the fun element that they bring into the show and we want to say thanks to them. They scream, they shout and clap. There is a lot of excitement in the theatre,” says Latha, who is visibly excited and anxious about Rajinikanth’s latest big-budget entertainer Kochadaiiyaan, which releases on May 9.
Usually preferring to remain behind-the-scenes, Latha has stepped out and taken an active interest in promoting her husband’s film. This film is a special one as it marks her return to singing for films, and her younger daughter Soundarya R Ashwin’s directorial debut. But she is dismissive of such concerns. “It so happened that Soundarya is directing her father and I sung a song for the movie,” says Latha, who sings the soulful number called Manappenin sathiyam, adding, “Otherwise this is just another production. Just because a father is being directed by her daughter doesn’t make it a family affair. He has done an actor’s role and she has done a director’s role.”
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Like most Rajinikanth films, which are big on a larger-than-life portrayal, entertainment and technology quotient, Kochadaiiyaan is no different. It claims to be the first Indian film made using “performance capture technology” — techniques employed effectively in Hollywood blockbusters like Avatar — with the exception that it uses actors Rajinikatnth, Deepika Padukone and Jackie Shroff instead of fictional ones.
“Very rarely do you see this kind of technology being used with live actors. It is on the lines of films such as Avatar and The Adventures of Tintin but in those films you see characters you have not seen before, whereas in Kochadaiiyaan you see live actors. Making a live action is simpler because the costumes and sets are there,” explains Latha, who encouraged Soundarya to make a film of this scale.
With such hype surrounding the technology of the film, the plot somewhere gets diluted. In the film, Rajinikanth essays a triple role — Kochadaiiyaan, Rana and Sena — of someone with long hair who worships Shiva, dances and is also a warrior. The film is rooted in Indian mythology and also stars south Indian stars Nasser and Shobhana. Though the film ran into several production delays, Latha always had faith in her daughter’s abilities. As a philanthropist and teacher who runs her own school, The Ashram, Latha has always dealt with children. “I look at every child’s aptitude as something special. And Soundarya has been creative right from childhood. She has been a graphics person and a visualiser and was made for this kind of technology,” she says.
A trained classical singer, Latha has worked with music composer llaiyaraaja in the past in Tamil movies such as the 1981 Kamal Hassan-starrer Tik Tik Tik and the 1984 Rajinikanth film Anbulla Rajinikanth. She always made time to follow her musical pursuits, recording her private albums every now and then. For this film, she had the opportunity of working with music director AR Rahman for the first time. “It was a beautifully written song and I wanted to work with Rahman. So it worked out well,” says Latha, who likes to assume the role of a doting mother — of two daughters — a grandmother, and a wife. For now, Latha is only focused on seeing this project through. “I will continue to sing as long as there is a good number. I told Rahman also the same thing,” she says.