Rajinikanth's next, Thalaivar 168, aims for Diwali 2020 release; Meena, Khushbu, Prakash Raj part of ensemble cast

Raja Sekar

Dec 11, 2019 13:29:44 IST

A day before his birthday (12 December), Superstar Rajinikanth commenced the shoot of his new film with director Siva in Chennai. Touted to be a family action entertainer, Siva’s choice of casting Meena and Khushbu, the blockbuster yesteryear heroines of Rajinikanth, has surprised many in the industry.

Meena and Khushbu paired opposite Rajinikanth in films like Yejaman, Muthu, Veera, Pandian, and Annamalai. Meena is teaming up with Rajinikanth after twenty-four years and Khushbu will share screen space with him after twenty-eight years.

“I’m quite excited to act alongside Rajini sir after twenty-eight years. In the past, people loved our pairing and enjoyed our films. Looking forward to the response of the people for our new collaboration. I also stayed away from acting for the past nine years and was firm in my decision to only take up big projects and interesting characters. When my director Siva and producers Sun Pictures offered me a unique character in their new film with Rajini sir, I immediately said yes,” said Khushbu on the yet-untitled film.

Talking about Thalaivar 168 (168th film of Rajinikanth), Meena said: “Both Sun Pictures and director Siva are new to me but have done several hit films with Rajini sir in the past. I’m super excited about my characterisation, it has a lot of comic elements and I’m sure audiences are going to love my portions. Looking forward to the shoot now.”

Apart from Khushbu and Meena, the film also has National Award-winning Keerthy Suresh of Mahanati fame in an important role. Keerthy's mom Menaka acted as Rajinikanth's romantic interest in his 1981 Tamil film Netrikann. But sources say that Keerthy is not paired opposite Rajinikanth as rumored by a section of the media. “I’m a big fan of Rajini sir. Glad that now I’m going to share screen space with him in his new film. I should thank Siva sir and Sun Pictures for this opportunity,” said Keerthy.

We also heard from sources close to Keerthy that she had to opt out of Mani Ratnam’s Ponniyin Selvan due to the schedule clash with Rajinikanth’s film. “As the shoot of Ponniyin Selvan got delayed, Keerthy couldn’t allocate the required dates so she had to opt out of the project,” said a source close to the actress.

Another interesting casting choice by Siva is Prakash Raj who has only acted in one scene with Rajinikanth in his entire illustrious film career. Prakash Raj played a cameo in Padayappa in 1999, so after two decades, the National Award-winning actor will share screen space with the superstar in Siva’s film.

Soori who earlier acted in Siva’s Vedalam takes care of the comedy portions in the film and Imman who delivered the chartbuster Viswasam's music, is composing the music for the film. Interestingly, this new film is Soori and Imman’s maiden association with Rajinikanth.

It is being touted that Siva is planning to release the film on Diwali 2020 as the family entertainer would attract the target audience during the festival weekend. Interestingly, Rajinikanth’s cop action thriller film Darbar directed by Murugadoss is scheduled to release on Pongal 2020. And so if all goes well, Rajinikanth will have two festival releases next year.

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Updated Date: Dec 11, 2019 13:29:44 IST