– RINKU GUPTA
For the young actor SAI DHANSHIKA being part of Rajinikanth’s Kabali is a dream fulfilled early in her career. Its no wonder then that the heroine who has done several action oriented roles in the past, was excited when director Ranjith gave her stunts to do in a Rajini film. She also agreed to a complete makeover, shedding her long tresses for the action packed gangster role. But the journey has not been without pitfalls especially when she suffered a fall during shoot. In a chat, she reveals how despite it all the Kabali experience has been fulfilling for her thanks to working with the phenomenon called Rajinikanth.
For a youngster to emote in front of the superstar was no mean task. Sai Dhanshika admits she was a bit anxious too. “When Rajini sir starts acting you just stand in mute admiration but when its your turn to speak you are just galvanised into action because of the inspiration his presence gives. You are automatically pushed to give your best. He too makes sure everyone is comfy around him.” She also had long chats with him between shots where he would talk about golden memories of film experiences. “He likes to hear others talk and asks their opinion on many topics. One of our talks included spirituality where I narrated my own experiences with a lady Saint. He rarely went to the caravan. He would spend time watching others perform. Many times we would see him quietly reading a book,” she recalls.
Happy to lose her locks
One of the highlights of working in Kabali with Rajinikanth , was when he, who is renowned as the king of style, complimented her for her makeover. “It was the day I came to the sets after cutting off my long hair for the role. When Ranjith told me I would have to chop my locks for a bob cut I didn’t hesitate even a second. If I couldn’t do it for a Rajinikanth film then when else would I do it ? If the director had thought it vital for my role then it must be important. I was rewarded the day I landed on the sets and Rajini sir said, ‘Stylaa irrukeenga’ (you are looking stylish).What bigger compliment could I wish for!”
Superstar to the rescue
Though Sai Dhanshika enjoyed the tough stunts she’s done in Kabali as the gun-toting gangster, injuries have been part of the shoot. She brushes it off with a laugh but does recall an incident when Rajini turned hero in real life and came to her aid. It was an important night shoot on a busy road in Malaysia. The director and unit were on the other side of the road from Rajini and Sai Dhanshika. She had to jump from a tall building for a stunt scene. However, for the first take, she landed on her knees, but kept the pain to herself. “For the next few takes, I hurt my hip and legs along with my knees. But during one take I fell, hurting my back and spine. I cried out in pain. The first person to reach my side was the Superstar himself. He immediately called Banu ma’m, his make up lady , and asked her to escort me to the car nearby and render first aid. The unit came hurrying to me through the crowded road but it was Rajini sir who was both quick and thoughtful to render the right help at the right time.”