Mani sir used to chide me about my accent, says Rukmini Vijaykumar
From bharatanatyam to Russian ballet, there is no dance form that Rukmini Vijaykumar has not mastered.The Bangalore-based dancer is a natural in front of the camera — which was evident when she played Rajinikanth’s screen sister in Kochadaiyaan (2014) with ease. In Kaatru Veliyidai, Rukmini plays a key supporting character, one that she refuses to detail, opting instead to keep the audience guessing. However she does get candid in our chat about working with Mani Ratnam, her struggle with Tamil and her next dance production among other things.
Rukmini was supposed to collaborate with Mani Ratnam on an earlier project, which somehow did not work out.“When this film came along, I was called for an audition,” says Rukmini who made her debut in Tamil with Bommalattam (2008) directed by Bharathiraja. Working with Mani Ratnam, she admits, is a tremendous learning experience like everyone claims. She adds, “The clarity of the director, be it Mani Ratnam or Bharathiraja, makes a film. Whether the situation is good or bad, they control the strings and that puts everyone working with them at ease. He knows exactly what he wants.” So, was he a taskmaster on set? Rukmini laughs, “He’s strict yes, but he’s a lot of fun too. He can seem intimidating, but in fact, he’s quite approachable for everything.”
Although she’s a Tamilian, Rukmini confesses that she cannot speak Tamil well enough. “Getting my pronunciation right was the hardest part. In fact, since I couldn’t speak Tamil properly, Mani Ratnam used to chide me about my accent and we would all have a good laugh about it. But he did help me with my lines. At the end of it, he trusted me enough to dub for myself,” recounts Rukmini.
Call it coincidence or sweet poetic irony, but Rukmini is currently working on a dance production called The Dark Lord, which has music by Dr Rajkumar Bharathi, the grandson of Subramania Bharati whose poetry is the inspiration for the title Kaatru Veliyidai. The production combines elements of dance and theatre and will premiere in July in Bengaluru. “It is my first self-produced show so I am really looking forward to that,” she says.