Exclusive: A role of a lifetime

Y.Sunita Chowdhary

Raj Arjun states that he finally landed the role of a lifetime.  All this while, he got to do inconspicuous characters and that left him dissatisfied. He will in his up and coming film Thalaivi, be seen as MGR’s confidante, well wisher and Man Friday. In a chat with Klapboardpost.com, Raj Arjun gives us a sneak peak on the character we seldom heard of. In Raj Arjun’s words, “Rama Veerappan or RMV was a personal manager to MGR and was handling his drama company. Later he became a strong pillar and began producing films and even roped in MGR to work in them. He had a strong political ideology and MGR would follow him. He enhanced MGR’s persona and public image and worked within his party. He used the public image for his films and was called Chanakya and made MGR a popular figure. He wasn’t concerned about money. He would do his research. His wife told him one day that, had he cared for his family and children like he cared for MGR, the scene would be different. In return, RMV said that if he had thought for his children, they would prosper but if  he focussed on MGR, it would do good for the state of Tamil Nadu. He was emotional and sensitive and made strategic plans for MGR and Tamil Nadu. Lot of people thought he was a negative person and a villain, because he made people feel that MGR cannot be approached by anyone. Instead of being accessible, he created an aura around him. Karunanidhi definitely did not like him and he thought that this man comes as a star and he is focussing on his company. He said he will take care of his party. There was anger because Jayalalita was coming close to MGR and the latter was not focusing on the political party. Once MGR wasn’t invited for a political function but others were. MGR was informed by his manager of this and Karunanidhi stated that he will manage on his own. In return, the manager started generating PR and promoted MGR’s political career.”
Raj Arjun
When MGR moved out of the DMK following differences with M. Karunanidhi in 1972, RMV apparently organised the fan clubs and helped him in starting the AIADMK party. In 1984, while MGR was ill,  RMV oversaw the party proceedings and election campaigning . Following the death of MGR in 1987, the party broke up into two factions where the larger faction was headed by him. He garnered support of 98 MLA’s to instill V.N. Janaki as the Chief Minister and then later reconciled with J. Jayalalithaa’s faction and became the Joint General Secretary of the party. He has been elected to the legislative assembly two times and to the legislative council three times. Raj Arjun adds that RMV did not like Jayalalita getting close to MGR and MGR despite having an emotional bond with Jayalalita, knew the value of his manager’s words. “He wanted to serve Tamil Nadu and wanted people to view MGR as a God and was offended when he was treated like a mere human. The party’s position became tough and got divided into two parts and was with MGR’s wife Janaki. RMV is still alive, he is 94 years old. I read about him, and saw his videos. My casting was done at the last minute and I didn’t get time. He would think that Jayalalita was an opportunist and wanted to further her career. When Jayalalita became a CM, he left politics and remained silent. There is a twist, you got to see as to how he came in again and in what situation he met jayalalitha. Something very important happened and he had to meet her.”
Raj Arjun
Raj Arjun is all praise for Vijay, the director of the film. He says “Vijay wanted to rope in significant names from Bollywood. Everyone feels they want big actors for the film and the character RMV is a backbone of the story.  Samutharikani was finalised for Tamil and Telugu as they were aiming at a native audience and the people will relate with him. I am not a familiar face in Tamil industry. I am in the Hindi version and so are Bhagyasree and Madhooji.” Ask him about the spade work he had done on RMV, he says “The first day itself, I began browsing the net for more info on him and was analysing his character. I devoured every bit of info on him and began imagining myself in his place and how I would have reacted to certain situations. I feel very fortunate for bagging that role. There are no negative or positive shades, he has his own philosophy and does whatever he feels is good.”  The producers were convinced with Vijay’s choice.Raj Arjun On his rapport with director Vijay, Raj Arjun says, “It is a long association. He would always give me roles in his films and one day I told him that I wouldn’t work with him anymore. I said I wasn’t born for these roles, I need to do something extraordinary and don’t want to be seen anymore. I was not happy with what I was doing. I was looking for work and got small roles. I realised I lost my dignity. from 2015 and decided I am not going to eat burnt food or not eat at all. He agreed and we didnt work together. One day my film Secret Superstar was released and I got  an award for my performance. Vijay saw the preview. He is a kind of person who will give work only when the person is useful and fits into the role. On the first day of Thalaivi, we had to do an important scene. Kangana is a thorough professional and very supportive. She went to London and California for prosthetics and wasn’t happy and felt it wasn’t working. She began gaining weight for the film and her face became puffy. If she gains weight there is no guarantee that look will come correctly but it did happen, especially in a  scene where she is tortured. I was amazed at her transformation and I really felt I was working with Jayalalitha. We were in our zone and I couldn’t help but notice her vibe.” Is her relationship with Sobhan Babu dealt too in the biopic? “I think we shall see that also. I always saw her as a political leader but once I got the script, I began getting curious. There will be many problems in life but in her case, it keeps repeating. She is hell bent on retaining her self respect, dignity. There was a fire in her belly that made her take revenge. She used her power and became more rich.”   Raj Arjun signs off not before stating that the film will hit the screen on 23 April.

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