Spyder is an edge-of-the-seat thriller, but my role will make viewers smile: Rakul Preet
Like most other actors, Rakul Preet too had a list of directors she wanted to work with. The top three were Mani Ratnam, SS Rajamouli and AR Murugadoss. With Spyder, that list is now down to two directors. “When my manager told me that there’s an offer for AR Murugadoss-Mahesh Babu’s film, I pestered him to close the deal immediately,” Rakul laughs recounting the incident, and adds, “I didn’t even want to hear the script before signing the film because I love AR Murugadoss’ work so much. The narrative in his films is very crisp. Thankfully, everything worked out well and I was on cloud nine to be part of a dream team. Just for the record, I did listen to the script after I signed the film [laughs].”
In the past, Rakul and Murugadoss missed working with each other on couple of occasions; however, Spyder was clearly meant to be her film. It also marks her comeback to Tamil cinema after a gap of three years. “Spyder is also my biggest film till date. With Murugadoss-Mahesh Babu-Santosh Sivan onboard, I knew I was in good company,” she adds. In the film, Rakul plays Charlie, a medical student, and the actress describes the character as someone who’s “silly and clumsy”. “Charlie is bit of a dreamer and she thinks that she knows it all. I could relate to the silly and clumsy part of the role [laughs[, because I’m like that in real life too. I keep falling down, tripping over things, reading into things when nothing actually happens. It’s like my mind works faster than my body,” Rakul confesses. “Spyder is a compelling edge-of-the-seat thriller, but my part is in a lighter vein and it’ll make you smile.”
Touted to be a action thriller made with a budget of Rs 125 crores, the stakes are quite high for Spyder in both Telugu and Tamil. Buzz is that Mahesh Babu plays an intelligence bureau officer who specialises in counter-terrorism, and it’s quite evident from the teasers so far that a bulk of the action revolves around Mahesh Babu and SJ Suryah, who plays the antagonist in the film. Ask Rakul about what’s her takeaway from a film like this, she confesses, “It’s the experience of working with some wonderful people that I’ll cherish the most. Murugadoss is a joy to work with. He’ll tell you what the scene is and then, he gives you the freedom to figure it out and enact the scene. I understand that not every film will be centered around you. This year I had Rarandoi Veduka Choodham and Jaya Janaki Nayaka, where I played the central role, but Spyder is in a very different space. I learnt a lot subconsciously throughout this journey. I mean, it’s amazing when you get to talk to someone like Santosh Sivan about his life experiences, his collaboration with Mani Ratnam, how he made Asoka. I love having conversations like these and being a chatty person that I’m, there was hardly a dull moment.”
For someone who grew up in a world that was far away from movies, Rakul is pleasantly surprised with how far she has come in recent years. “I’ve changed a lot over the years and it’s all because of the film I spend time with. I hang out with people who are much older than me and I’ve always believed that you should be friends with people who know more than you. They mould you in a certain way which will take you by surprise. It’s a constant learning process. Perhaps, that’s also why I find it tough to pinpoint and say this is what I’ve learnt from this film,” she says. However, she does remember conversations she has had with her co-star Mahesh Babu. “We bonded a lot over fitness. What I really admire about him is that he’s a complete family person. He loves having his kids come over on the sets and his family is his priority, no matter how busy he is. I had an amazing time working with him.”
The actress is all praise for cinematographer Santosh Sivan, whose style of working amazed the whole team. “Let me put this way — he’s someone who’ll make your skin glow even if you are tired. His lighting pattern is very different. I remember once when we were shooting for 'Haali Haali' (song), Mahesh Babu remarked, 'Looking at the way Santosh Sivan is capturing us on camera, I’m afraid people will end up thinking that we actually look this good off screen too.' And on top of that, he’s very methodical with his work and he makes sure that everything is in order before we roll,” Rakul explains.
Spyder was shot in Telugu and Tamil simultaneously, and it turned out to be quite a exhausting experience for the cast. So, when Murugadoss asked the lead pair if they want to shoot in Tamil first or Telugu, both of them agreed to shoot in Tamil first since they were already quite comfortable with Telugu lines. Rakul says, “It drained us out [laughs]. I was so comfortable with Telugu that I didn’t even read the lines, but I spent most of my time trying to cram my dialogues in Tamil. We had to constantly switch between the two versions for every shot and it becomes like a bheja fry situation after a point! And you know what’s even tougher? Dancing to songs in a bilingual film! The choreography changes because the lyrics change and thus, your expressions have to be different. You can’t replicate the dance moves just like that because it’ll convey a different meaning if the dance doesn’t match the lyrics.”
In the past couple of years, five out of six films that Rakul has been part of have worked quite well at the box-office and it does seem that she’s in a happy space. Currently, she’s shooting for Neeraj Pandey’s Aiyaary in which she’s paired opposite Sidharth Malhotra, and then, there’s her other Tamil film Theeran Adhigaram Ondru in which she is playing a village belle. “I really don’t dwell in the past and carry the baggage forward. If I do that, I’ll start living in the past and I certainly don’t want to do that. I’m grateful to everyone, right from my staff to each and every person who have worked on the film, for being part of the success. My job is to give my 100 percent to every scene, get my lines right, be on time, and trust my instincts. The challenge right now is to find something that’ll demand more from me. That thirst is ubiquitous for every actor,” Rakul signs off.