In Mumbai to promote his sci-fi extravaganza Robot,soft-spoken director Shankar gets candid on the most expensive Indian film ever and its lead pair Rajinikant and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan.
There’s a lot of talk about Robot being the most expensive film made at 150 crores.
Yes,the hard work put in by my actors,Rajinikant and Aishwarya Rai Bachchan makes Robot priceless!
In terms of the budget,we mean.
Yes,Robot is the most expensive Indian film. But I also understand that a big budget,a high-profile cast or technical excellence cannot make a film work. It’s the story,characters and the emotions portrayed that decide the fate of a film.
What according to you will be the highlight of Robot?
The highlights of the film are the story and the special effects. The animatronics you will see in the film is something never seen before on Indian screen. Also it’s different from what either Rajinikant or I have attempted before in terms of storytelling. The film has only two scenes that are normal.
Is it a sci-fi film?
Animation and special effects are only two aspects of the film. Otherwise it’s a complete entertainer with a gripping story,romance,action,comedy and other human emotions. In short it’s a simple science-fiction film.
Would the film have been different if Kamal Haasan or Shah Rukh Khan,who were the original choices for the film,come on board?
Now that the film is complete I cannot imagine it with any other star. Rajinikant is not only a superstar but his nickname down South is also Superstar! His dedication to the film was complete as he he did not accept any other film during the two years he shot for Robot.
Was Aishwarya your first choice?
Yes,she was the first choice,but when I was making the film with Kamal Haasan,Aishwarya did not have the dates so she had refused the film. That was the time Preity Zinta came on board. But later Aishwarya said she could spare her dates and she was back. When it comes to work,Ash is like a hero! Meaning that she readies herself for her part like a hero,rehearsing,practicing and observing. She works extremely hard. For Robot,she would write her Tamil dialogues in English,learn them the night before and be well-prepared the next day.
What made you settle on a robot for one of the characters in the film?
The idea to make a film with an inanimate character,like a robot,always fascinated me and I was toying with the idea for almost a decade. Because when a human and a robot interact,it’s very interesting.
Is the film based on any Hollywood film?
No,the script is original and very Indian. I let my imagination run wild and came up with this story which is sci-fi,but put together very simply so that even the common man can comprehend it.
It took almost two years for you to put it together.
That’s because of the technical and post-production work and special effects.
Did you ever think Rajinikant was too old to be paired with Aishwarya?
On screen he looks very young!
You worked with Aishwarya in Jeans and now Robot. What are the changes you noticed in her?
She was very sharp then. She has become sharper now!
What about your next project,the Tamil remake of 3 Idiots?
I will start thinking about that after Robot releases.
The making of Robot
*The filming of Robot began in February 2008 in Chennai with a photo shoot of Rajinikant.
*The first schedule of the film took off with a song sequence with Rajnikant and Aishwarya in Machu Picchu in Peru in September 2008,following which some scenes were shot in Brazil and the US.
*Goa was the destination for the second schedule,after which one song was shot in the Himachal Pradesh. The final filming was done in Chennai in July 2010. *Interestingly,Amitabh Bachchan was considered to play the villain’s part,now played by Danny Denzongpa.