'It was a dream to immortalise my father'

'It was a dream to immortalise my father'

Proud daughter

'It was a dream to immortalise my father'

Though she grew up in the shadow of her legendary father, Soundarya Rajinikanth’s path was never eclipsed by the spotlight. Instead, she pursued her passion in graphic designing — a departure from what her father was doing.

The founder and owner of Ocher Picture Productions, Soundarya in no time proved her mettle as a graphic designer in Tamil films and as a producer through ‘Goa’. She secured her rightful place in the limelight directing her father in the animated period film ‘Kochadaiiyaan’ — at once complex and intriguing.

In a chat with Anupama Ramakrishnan, the endearing daughter turns eloquent on her life as a director, her father's off-screen persona and sheds light on her tattoo.

How do you remember your growing-up years? Ever wanted to be an actress?
Well, yes and no. Coming from the pedigree that I do, lots of offers did come my way but it was a conscious decision for me to stay behind the camera. Growing up in a celebrity atmosphere has its pros and cons. But both my sister and I are very thankful to our parents for giving us a wonderful childhood.

In spite of being the daughter of an actor-father, your decision was to direct an animation film. How did that come about?
I have always been fascinated by technology and visual effects. It was a dream to immortalise my father and my film was a humble first-time attempt in the genre in the country. It was a Herculean task for me to pull off the film with limited budget and time. I’m grateful I could do it with the support of my team and my parents.
Tell me a bit about introducing ‘performance capture technology’ in India through ‘Kochadaiiyaan’...
It’s a technology that’s widely used internationally and is making its way into India now. The biggest difficulty for me was to recreate a popular personality, like my father, and the film was realistic, meaning unlike fictitious characters, the script demanded realism. I had to complete the film in less that 2 years. (In India, that’s considered a long time. Films like this need 5-6 years to make, as every single thing you see on screen is created.) In hindsight, I would make it a VFX film with both created characters and live action but it has been the biggest learning experience, personally and professionally for me and I’m very grateful for that.
How was it directing your father in  ‘Kochadaiiyaan’?
It was a dream-come-true for me. Those were the best days of my life.
How do you balance your role as a mother with your professional responsibilities?
 I love motherhood; it’s the best thing that has happened to me. My son has given me more life and happiness that I ever knew. Right now, he’s my priority, and I couldn’t have done this without the support of my mother and my nannies. He’s just turned 10 months and I have started resuming work.

How have your parents guided you?
At every step, ‘appa’ used to be very busy. We barely got time to spend with him while growing up. Now, that he has a little more time to spare, we all make the best of it. Personally, my parents, like all other, want the best for us.
Your future projects...
I’m working on a few live action commercial scripts now. It should commence by year-end hopefully.

You got tattoos of your parents inked on you...
I wanted something that mattered most to me inked on me for life. It was a wish for a while and I got it done last year in Spain on a holiday. Mom and dad didn’t know about it!

How has your father’s simplicity inspired you?
In every way. My father practises what he preaches and there something new to learn from him each new day.

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