She is Rajinikanth’s daughter; he is Kasthuri Raja’s son. Their recent amateurish attempt to shoot a Tanglish song at a recording studio became 2011’s biggest trendsetter, a magnitude of success they weren’t prepared for. It won the Gold Medal Award from YouTube for the largest number of hits in the shortest time. Very soon, several language versions of the song cropped up all over the Internet.
Now, they prepare for the mid-February release of 3, the movie from which the song is. “Kolaveri di was meant to be in our lives. We consider ourselves blessed,” says Dhanush. But, it hasn’t changed them personally. Even today, they are the happy-go-lucky couple that they were when they first met nine years ago. When love blossomed. At almost first sight. And their feelings for each other had given the local media enough grist for the mill. “I went to watch his film Kaadhal Kondein where I was introduced to him. A few days later, I sent him flowers complimenting him on his work. That’s how it started. Six months down the line, we got married,” says Aishwarya.
Unfortunately, they didn’t get to date as regular couples because they weren’t allowed to be seen together in public and with Dhanush’s constant comparisons to father-in-law Rajinikanth, it hasn’t always been easy. “It’s overwhelming and at the same time, it’s a burden not be pushed under Appa’s shadow. There is more to Dhanush than just being related to someone,” says Aishwarya firmly, whose latest entry into show business is, by industry standards, a natural progression. “I always wanted to be the captain of the ship. As a director, one can create characters and make people become other people. Thankfully, Dhanush encourages me to do what I want,” she says.
A Rafael Nadal fan Dhanush believes that the job of an award is to motivate an artiste and that’s what winning the National Award has done to him. “I was honoured and it has encouraged me to push the bar. A director is the boss on the sets, no matter who it is – brother, father or wife – you have to respect them. So I simply obeyed Aishwarya. After that, we carried our work back home, fought, argued and disagreed just like a couple who work together do. In the end, it worked for the best.”
Aishwarya didn’t write the screenplay keeping anyone particular in mind. Once it was completed, she realised only Dhanush could do justice to the role. “Accessibility was one reason to cast him as I could pull him and say ‘listen, you have no choice,’ but it wasn’t the only reason. In fact, I was more conscious casting him because I could not afford to disappoint his fans. He can be a performer but he is also a star,” she adds.
Before 3, Aishwarya played affluent housewife, enjoying her yoga classes, dropping off son Yatra to school, catching up with friends for long lunches and taking care of some of Dhanush’s office work. Now that she is a working mother, the couple makes time to take their two sons out for lunch to Park Sheraton or Taj. When Dhanush isn’t shooting, he plays video games, watches films, and spends time with the boys too. The two are avid readers – Dhanush is into thrillers and adventure books and Aishwarya likes fiction and metaphysical works.
While Aishwarya’s simplicity and intellect echoes her father’s influence on her, Soundarya, her younger sibling, has taken after their mother in the way she thinks. Dhanush feels Aishwarya is still a six-year-old kid in a candy store who is enjoying everything she sees because she has made it on her own without relying on her father’s name. He appreciates her strong willpower and principles. “The best role Aishwarya plays is that of a daughter – she is faithful, obedient and loyal – Mr. Rajinikanth couldn’t have asked for more.”
Once the Kolaveri di wave subsides, the couple will go to Tirupati, offer thanksgiving prayers and head for a long holiday abroad with the kids. “I haven’t worked as hard in my 22-film career as I have for 3. I need a very long break,” says Dhanush. “There is more freedom of movement abroad – you can walk on the road without people immediately recognising or disturbing you. I don’t want my children to grow up thriving on attention. I want them to have a simple childhood – going to the temple, to Mylapore and Saravana Bhavan – just like the way we grew up,” he says.
Some time later, Dhanush wishes to direct a thriller. “I keep asking myself if I should stay on and act or should I move towards direction. I am confused. I may choose the road less travelled; we’ll talk about it when I get there,” he smiles.
As for the most romantic gesture her husband has shown, Aishwarya remembers, “Dhanush shows consideration for the smallest things I do. The first time I cooked for him after we got married, he ate his meal without saying a word. Then, he stormed out. I didn’t know whether he liked it or not. When he returned, he brought me gold bangles to say thank you for the best meal ever!”