Rudhramadevi – The Warrior Queen ; Exclusive Interview with Anushka Shetty for British South Indians Magazine, UK by Kavitha Raja
On the eve of the release of Rudhramadevi in Tamil, Anushka Shetty gives us an Exclusive, in-depth Interview on her landmark Movie and has a very special message for all her fans in the UK.
You always come across as an extremely calm and composed person, so how were your levels of anxiety before the release one of the biggest Blockbusters of your career? How much of the weight of the film do you allow yourself to carry on your shoulders today?
I’m happy I come across as a calm person. But within, it’s not the same. It’s a tempest. I’m very tensed and it is quite stressful. The stress doesn’t have much to do with how the movie has come out, because I know it has come out well. I’m tensed about how people will take it. I hope they love watching Rudhramadevi’s story as much as I did playing her.
Why has history never sung the praises of Rani Rudhramadevi like it has done the Rani of Jhansi?
That is a question that confuses me as well. Rani of Jhansi and Rani Rudhramadevi are the same in terms of their dynamism and the burden they had to bear and yet Rani Rudhramadevi never got the acknowledgement that she had to.
Many of us living abroad had not heard about this amazing Ruler and Leader until the publicity of the Film started hitting the internet a couple of years ago. How much do you think the film will be responsible for educating people today?
It will definitely enlighten people about the life of Rani Rudhramadevi and make them aware about how dynamic a ruler she was. Director Gunasekhar studied about Rudhramadevi in his 8th standard and got fascinated by the life of her back then. Once he became a director, he wanted to make a film out of it; mainly so he could let the world know that India had a woman ruler like her who changed a phase of Indian history. I firmly believe that the film will give much-needed acknowledgement to Rani Rudhramadevi’s sacrifices & dedication.
Many little South Indian and Sri Lankan Girls say that you are their favourite actress and choose you as their Role- model. What is the most important message that you want them to gain from the life of Rudhramadevi? What is the one thing that the Life of Rudhramadevi’s teach the women and young girls of today?
Women have myriad personalities. There are multiple shades to each and every woman out there. If they use it in a positive way, they can be good, stand out from the others and do good as well. But if, used negatively, it can be destructive. Rudhramadevi as a person signifies “balance” – she balanced the role of a Queen, the role of a daughter, a wife, and a mother really well. She was caring and compassionate and yet she was brave. This balance is what I believe, women should learn from Rudhramadevi’s life.
When people think of historical characters like Gandhi – they picturise Ben Kingsley;
Lord Krishna – N. T. Rama Rao Gaaru and so on. How does it make you feel to know that
Years from now, when they think about Rani Rudhramadevi they will picturise Anushka Shetty?
It’s a great feeling and yet so scary. I had to do my part in researching about Rudhramadevi and trying to understand the way she would have been. One fine day when I googled ‘Rudhramadevi’ a few months into the project, I found pictures of myself all over the web. That was a scary moment, to know that a few years later people will really think that Anushka was Rudhramadevi. If I can carry even 5% of what I was told about this great Queen, I am a happy person.
Rana Daggupati and Allu Arjun are two leading Heroes who have taken on this film in spite of the movie being female-centric. Apart from this being a good project to take on, how much did your friendship with both of them influence them both in taking up this project?
More than our friendship, it is the love they have for cinema that made them take up this role. Both Allu Arjun & Rana grew up in & around cinema I was a stranger to this field and yet, if given a chance to do something like this, new & exciting, I would definitely take it up. I think it’s the same with them. It was for everyone’s good, for the love of cinema. Allu Arjun is a very genuine person. Even if he was offered a role that would project him in a very strong way, if he feels that someone else might suit the role better, he would invite them personally to refer them the role. That’s how sincere he is to the art. Both Bunny & Rana are very good friends of mine. I should give special mention to Rana, for his role in the film is very different from all his other films. It is very subtle; he has very few dialogues and yet his presence was essential in the film. He took up the project without any qualms. A big thanks to him for that.
You have mentioned that you found the horse-riding stunts particularly challenging in both Rudhramadevi and Baahubali, what other scenes did you find both emotionally and physically challenging?
Physical challenges were definitely there. We had to learn, practice and perform all the stunts including horse riding, sword fighting and rope sequences within a short span. This was definitely a challenge. When I perform, I feel like I’ve given a 100%. But when I watch myself on the screen, I’m not fully satisfied with what I have done.
Emotionally, I don’t get very involved in the films or the scenes. Be it action or deep emotions or drama, I perform and I snap out of the role in a short time. I think that has always helped me stay calm.
You have done an amazing job with learning Telugu and Tamil in spite of it being a second language, how did you manage to learn the lengthy Authentic Telugu Dialogues and deliver them? Do you see yourself dubbing for any of your future projects?
I would love to dub, but not until my voice would suit the role. My voice comes out much softer when dubbed and it won’t go with the character of Rudhramadevi. As for learning lengthy dialogues, I didn’t have much of an issue as I knew the language and I have a pretty decent memory. But I had to make sure I spoke each and every word so as to sound authentic. In Rudhramadevi most of my dialogues are very lengthy monologues. It’s either that, or no dialogues at all.
You have mentioned your love of French and Korean films and how you would love to be part of them. If you had to pick a popular English Movie and a Character that you would love to play, what would they be?
I have a lot of favourite films; ones that I would have loved to have been a part of. But off the top of my mind, Pretty Woman! (Laughs)
You have a reputation of being one of the nicest people in the Film Industry; the way you treat people on the set and everyone around you. How do you remain positive even on the most challenging days?
“Treat people as you wish to be treated”. Everything can change overnight. Just because we are in a position in life right now, doesn’t mean we’ll remain in the same pedestal all our life. Some of the light men and technicians have more experience than my age and I lose nothing in respecting them. We should learn to treat people the same way indifferent of who they are or who we are. Draw the line where it has to be drawn though.
Have you ever visited London/ UK before? Tell us about your experiences and what you like about this place?
My first visit to London was when I was 17 years old with my school Principal. I still remember the Visa Officer from then. I told him that I wanted to come back to India, as I couldn’t imagine living anywhere but India. In fact, after I returned, I wrote him a letter about all the places I visited and how I liked England and he wrote back that my letter came as a pleasant surprise to him.
I’m very fond of Europe; love it even more than I like the US. I prefer staying at countryside especially in Scotland and of course shop in the lovely European cities.
Do you hear from many Fans abroad and how do they support you?
Lot of people who have lived abroad for more than three generations, know their roots even more than I do. Indians and Sri Lankans settled abroad have that in them. They all recognize me and acknowledge me for the work I do and I love them for that.
A Message for all your Fans in the United Kingdom please?
Thank you so much! Cinema is universal. It crosses language, race and cultural barriers and speaks to all. Every filmmaker makes films to touch every single audience irrespective of his class or creed. Thanks to all those who watch our movies and silently support us.
RUDHRAMADEVI (in TAMIL) releases in the UK on Friday October 16th
Exclusive Interview with by Kavitha Raja