Aishwarya Rajesh, the happening actress in Tamil who recently floored audiences in contrasting roles in Mani Ratnam’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam and Dhanush starrer Vada Chennai, is signing off 2018 in style with a classic movie Kanaa, said to be India’s first film on women cricket.
The dusky actress plays aspiring cricketer Kausalya, who is the daughter of a farmer essayed by Sathyaraj and the film is about the challenges and struggles she faces to make an entry into the national team.
The visionary behind the project is none other than actor Sivakarthikeyan, and Kanaa marks his maiden production venture in his home banner. He has also appeared in a crucial segment in the movie. Siva brought in his best friend and actor/lyricist Arunraja Kamaraj (a cricketer himself) to wield the megaphone.
Aishwarya Rajesh gets candid in speaking to DC about her mind-blowing experiences working in Kanaa, the sole women centric film that is locking horns with films from biggies like Dhanush, Jayam Ravi, Vijay Sethupathi and Vishnu Vishal on December 21.
How did Kanaa happen?
One day Sivakarthikeyan asked me if I knew how to play cricket. I told him that I don’t know anything about cricket. I came to know that he is making a film with Arunraja Kamaraj on women’s cricket. I was honest as my concern was that they were doing it on a budget. In fact, I was asking my friends in the industry if they knew cricket. And the real cricket players were not ready to come on board.
I thought why not I give a try and asked Arunraj if I can hear the story. He felt it would be a waste of time narrating the script to someone who does not know anything about cricket. Somehow, I persuaded him and made him narrate the full story. I loved hearing a sports based subject for the first time. I asked him for seven days time and soon our journey of Kanaa started. He was convinced.
Gave six months call sheet for Kanaa:
I had two films on hand then, one was Mani sir’s Chekka Chivantha Vaanam, which was in finishing stage and the other was Vada Chennai. I promised Arunraja that I won’t do any other film once I commit to Kanaa and gave them 6 months call sheet for the movie, which is the longest time I have ever given to a film.
Skin got tanned and extreme body pain:
I learnt cricket in a professional manner and got trained in various places. I used to practice every day. I did 65 to 75 days of practice. I got terribly tanned and would suffer from body pain. Once, my SI joint got locked and I could not even walk. I was literally limping. I went into a depression mode as well. After taking three weeks of physiotherapy, I sort of got back to normalcy. But I can’t explain the kind of pride, joy and happiness I got when I wore the yellow jersey sported by Chennai Super Kings cricketers for the climax scenes.
After watching my practice sessions through videos, Siva and Arunraja were confident that I could pull off the challenging role.
How stubborn were you about doing this film:
Once in a blue moon, you get a film like Kanaa and why would I let it go from my hand? I will choose only what suits me. I always believe that I can get into the skin of the character and give my 100 percent. And this is one of the most memorable films in my career and will remain fresh in my mind forever.
Bond shared with Sathyaraj:
My dad was an actor who has done 45 films in Telugu. I lost him when I was nine. I was the fourth and the last child after three boys. So, I was my dad’s pet. We lived in T.Nagar in a housing board flat and whenever there was heavy rain, water would come inside the house. I used to get scared. My Appa would keep me on his shoulders throughout the night. His sudden demise gave a jolt to me. Sathyaraj sir has acted as my doting father in Kanaa. I could relate to each and every scene I acted with sir.
Do you expect a national award for Kanaa?
When Kakka Muttai — where I played a slum dweller and mother of two kids — came out my director Manikandan, more than me, expected an award for me. My name was recommended in the ‘Best Lead Female’ category. I heard that I was shortlisted as well. The irony was that except me, all the others including the two kids got national awards. Later they said that if my name had gone in ‘Best Supporting Role’ category, I would have won. I am getting interesting roles like Padma in Vada Chennai and Kausalya in Kanaa. I am happy and contented with it. I do my job without expecting awards. But, I wish Kanaa would get me one.
Dhanush and Vijay Sethupathi heap praises:
After watching the trailer and first look of Kanaa, Dhanush wished me. Sethupathi said that I see a clear winner in Kanaa and that it would be a ‘sixer.’ He also sends me good heroine centric subjects.