It’s safe to say that Rukmini Vijayakumar makes juggling between various careers seamlessly easy. She is all set to enthrall the Chennai crowd with her latest avatar as ‘The Lady of Burma’, in a play of the same name, which she is set to enact today. Prominent film and theatre personality, Prakash Belawadi, will be directing the drama, which is about the Burmese leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and her struggle for freedom.
While we start the conversation on how she prioritises between her dance, film and theatre careers, she instantly responds, “Yes, you have got the order correct. Bharatanatyam is my first love, followed by cinema and theatre. I am particular that I do justice to whatever I do!”
Explaining about how she prepared for the role of a renowned living personality for her latest play, she reveals, “After reading a lot about Aung San Suu Kyi, I was initially doubtful if I could portray her role correctly. But then I realised that I can never be her and I don’t need to imitate her. I just have to tell her story. And, I am confident that I can pull it off!”
Speaking on her teaming up with Prakash Belawadi (who has also acted in movies like Talwar and Uttama Villain), she says, “It’s always a privilege to work alongside him. In the beginning, I was not able to precisely understand his thought processes, but gradually, the character grew on me.”
Sharing with us on how different it is to prepare for film and theatre, Rukmini says, “Both demand a lot of different things. From my point of view –— when it comes to cinema, a director’s decision making becomes very crucial. Though a director’s work is no less when it comes to a play, an actor has to own the character so much more than films. As my performance will be a 90 minute one-actor play, I would have to keep making a lot of instinctive decisions.”
While her performance in the same play got her accolades when it was staged at Bengaluru in 2011, the Shamitabh actress hopes to receive a good response in Chennai too — “One thing I want to make clear is that since I am a part of this play, there is a conception that it would have Bharatanatyam. But the play doesn’t focus on dancing!”
As for the theatre scene in the city, Rukmini feels that though there are a lot of interesting things happening here, it is not as active as in cities like Bengaluru. “Chennai’s theatre scene is really good and there is a lot of experimental stuff happening — but I only wish it was as active as in other cities! I feel that spaces here are mostly confined to dance and music — if there were more spaces for theatre, then it would be terrific!” she opines.
On a concluding note, she talks about Mani Ratnam’s upcoming Karthi-starrer Kaatru Veliyidai, that she’s a part of. “I have some portions left in the film, in which I play one of the supporting leads. It is a really interesting character, which has an important role in facilitating the story. I am upbeat that the film will cater well to movie lovers,” she says, and bids adieu.