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I wanted singer Hariharan to play the villain: RJ Balaji

The actor, who is making his directorial debut with Nayanthara’s Mookuthi Amman talks about the film’s release on Deepavali and how he deals with criticism about his films.

I wanted singer Hariharan to play the villain: RJ Balaji


RJ Balaji despite being busy with last-minute post-production work of his film Mookuthi Amman, talks to us on a video call. The film will have its premiere on Disney+Hotstar for Deepavali (November 14). Mookuthi Amman that stars Nayanthara in the lead has a casting coup of sorts. Veteran actors Moulee and Urvashi play important roles, while RJ Balaji plays Engels Ramasamy and actor Ajay Ghosh plays the antagonist. “I did not have to go the extra mile as a director to pull off such a star cast for Mookuthi Amman. I told Nayanthara the story. She liked it and agreed to be a part of it. Likewise, Urvashi was the first choice to play my mother in the film. She had committed herself to another film but she didn’t want to miss Mookuthi Amman. She allocated dates for this film as well despite her busy schedule,” he begins. 

Balaji also shared an interesting piece of information with us and says that he wanted to cast singer Hariharan as the film’s antagonist, which is now played by Ajay Ghosh. “I had Hariharan in mind and even approached him at his house in Mumbai. We all know how good a singer he is. So, I wanted to unleash the actor in him. However, when I saw Ajay in a Telugu movie, that is when I realised he is too good as a comedian as well. You would understand when you watch him in this movie,” he reveals.

Balaji clarifies that the film isn’t a spoof of devotional films, which have released previously. “People asked me the same when LKG released. Only upon release, they understood that it is a proper film with a strong storyline. Likewise, Mookuthi Amman isn’t a spoof. It is a family entertainer with an underlying message,” he tells us.

Looking back at his career from being a radio jockey to directing Nayanthara in this film, he says, “If I wasn’t good enough as an RJ, I would have been fired by my company. I have been a commentator in IPL for four years now. If they weren’t happy I would have been asked to leave. I am good at whatever I do because I am a quick learner. Vels Films International trusted me with my work after LKG and we collaborated again for Mookuthi Amman. There is a lot of learning and unlearning process involved in my journey,” he says. 

Balaji himself has been critical about films of even leading directors when he was an RJ. Does he keep that in mind when he writes a script? “Even today I am critical of my own work. There is a film of mine that is being repeatedly played this lockdown in which I die. When I see it I pray to myself that I don’t come back alive in the story. Sundar C once told me that only five per cent of the Tamil audience is on Twitter. The rest are not on social media. As he said, I am here to make films for 95 per cent of the audience,” he signs off.

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