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Interview Team : Dilani Rabindran

There are some young artists that strike you with their passion for the entertainment industry and dedication to the evolution of Tamil cinema, and Vidyu Raman is one of them. The fun-loving and talented lass was extremely busy in 2014, with roles in such major films as Jilla & Veeram, and a jam packed call-sheet for all her parts in major upcoming films, including Venkat Prabhu’s highly anticipated Masss and the coveted fantasy feat Vijay58. Dilani Rabindran chatted with the hard-working character artist about celebrating her 2-year anniversary in the industry, what she’s learning from Superstar Rajinikanth, and why it’s so tough to act alongside (or not alongside) Surya & Vijay!


You recently celebrated 2 years since your entry into the film industry! Do you still feel like a newcomer at all or are you well seasoned by now?

I definitely don’t feel as raw or out of the water as I used to, but I’m still learning. Even though my dad has been in the industry for 25 or so years I never thought I would get into it. I was just minding my own business acting in theatre, and theatre is so different from cinema, that it was a shocking awakening to step into this world. In theatre you are super organized and the discipline levels are insane. I wouldn’t say the same about cinema, since it’s more spontaneous. So all these small things took me a while to get used to. I was still a kid when I was getting into the industry. I didn’t know how to “behave” yet, so it has taken time for me to get used to being  a public figure and ebing more aware of myself and my surroundings while I do what I love, which is entertaining people & making them laugh!

Even though my dad has been in the industry for 25 or so years I never thought I would get into it. 


Your popularity can be seen by the way people celebrated your 2-year mark online! It wasn’t just celebrating 2 years of NTEP but 2 years of you in the industry!

Yes, I remember that day so well! Everyone was just so nervous, and I remember I took all my friends & family to go see my first film on the big screen. You know I never banked on anything; for me it was just “you got into this industry as a fluke, you have done your best so if you are meant to stay here destiny will take care of it”, because in this industry, even if you’re a big shot’s son or daughter, at the end of the day if the public doesn’t accept you then it really doesn’t matter where you come from or how much money you’re worth. God has definitely been kind to me, and with every film the public has accepted me more & more. So I just hope that continues and they enjoy seeing me more on screen. 

“you got into this industry as a fluke, you have done your best so if you are meant to stay here destiny will take care of it”


Speaking of how much we’re going to see you on screen, you’ve been very busy! So let’s talk about some of your forthcoming projects, starting with Kakki Sattai

I play a very brief yet cool role in it. Kakki Sattai has come out really well and it’s going to be a proper mass entertainer that will please all Sivakarthikeyan fans and action-seeking fans alike. Audiences will be seeing Sivakarthikeyan in a new avatar!

Audiences will be seeing Sivakarthikeyan in a new avatar!


So Kakki Sattai was a Wunderbar production, and this was your first time acting in a Dhanush production. How did you find that experience?

Wunderbar was great, they treated us very well on set. I’ve noticed that all production houses that are run by actors take extra good care of artists because they know what it feels like. In fact I’ve acted in 3 actors’ production companies – Dhanush’s “Wunderbar Films”, Arya’s “The Show People” and Santhanam’s “Handmade Films”. 


So another big project you’ve been a part of is Masss starring Surya! What was it like being a part of a Venkat Prabhu film?

He is a totally jolly fellow, so shooting was like a joyride! Anyone who works with Venkat Prabhu will tell you that; he was so chilled out & very, very nice. And to act with Surya, it was something even more than that, because he was my first celebrity crush! I was so crazy about him when I was a teenager so it was both very exciting & scary to me to act with him! In fact, on my very first day of shooting I had to do a scene with him! I was totally shell shocked and I didn’t say my dialogue properly in our first take, because I was busy staring at him! They would say “action” & I would just have my jaw on the floor looking at him. Then eventually I got used to it and toned down my ogling. 

They would say “action” & I would just have my jaw on the floor looking at Suriya.


Honestly, you’re my hero for getting out all your lines with him around. I am so proud.

Right?! I’m super proud of me too. I mean I did that with Surya, in the flesh, standing 2 feet away from me, breathing the same air I was breathing! It was quite an experience. And you know what the worst part is? What made it even tougher? He’s even more good looking in real life!


I’m extremely jealous of you right now. 

Thank you. After all that I’m really looking forward to the release of Masss. It’s a very different film, a lot of fun. Nayantara was such a sweetheart.  My character is very funny, and strangely in both Kakki Sattai and Masss I play a nurse. It’s purely coincidental but works out well, both in uniquely funny ways. 


So in addition to those 2 films, you have about 6 others on the go right now! Let’s talk about “VSOP” starring Arya & Tamannah. It looks like you’re having a lot of fun on the sets of that film!

I’m going to be very open right now & say that I have never laughed so much on the set of any movie than I have for VSOP. My character is definitely something that will reach the audience well. Tamannah is extremely nice and great to work with, and Arya is a total gentleman. Our director Rajesh is so clear and knows the pulse of the audience well; he knows what jokes will work best so you can expect something along the lines of Boss Enga Baskiran success because Arya & Santhanam’s humor will be like it was in that film. It’ll be the perfect summer release.

I have never laughed so much on the set of any movie than I have for VSOP


In Mapillai Singham you are joining Vimal & Soori, 2 of the funniest men in the industry at the moment, so I think there is a lot expected of your comedic collaboration with them.

Mapillai Singham was actually a project that came along suddenly. It’s an interesting part for me because you will see me only in the first half of the movie, and then right at the climax. I play a very pivotal character in the movie; it’s the character that basically moves the plot forward! This is my second time acting with Soori, after Jilla, and it’s always fun.


Let’s talk about your role in the Tamil remake of the Malayalam hit Thattathin Marayathu from 2012.

Thattathin Marayathu is a beautiful story about inter-religious love, and what’s special about the remake is that in the original Malayalam film my role doesn’t really exist. The director added in my role because he wanted me to be a part of it, so he basically converted a boy’s character to a girl and extended it. The original is a lovely film, and the remake will introduce a new hero. And all said and done, despite all these big name stars I get to act with, I don’t want people to think I am someone who will only do projects with a Vijay or an Ajith or a Surya. I want to make sure I am supporting up & coming teams and movies with great messages. Because it is the story that really matters. 


And you have a lead role in a Telugu film that should be releasing in February! How are excited are you for that?

So excited! Tamil films are going very well for me right now, nothing to complain about. But the same gap is there in Telugu films – no one to do female comedy roles! So I really hope this role will help increase my visibility there. It’s a horror comedy, which is a genre that is doing well in both Tamil & Telugu, and my character in that film has shaped out so well. It was one of the most challenging parts I’ve had to date – with all the screaming I had to do! 


Do you think that Telugu films are only recognizing the need for female comedians now? Or is it that there has always been recognition, but a shortage of female character artists?

I’m not so well versed with the Telugu facts about this, but in Tamil there were a substantial number of female comedians at one point who ruled the roost, garnered themselves excellent names and then left. Be it Aachi Manorama or Kovai Sarala. And in Tamil films I feel there has always been a pairing concept  – of Nagesh and Manorama, or Vadivelu and Kovai Sarala, etc. And I feel as though filmmakers are bringing that trend back into fashion now that I’ve made it very clear that I’m here to stay. So people are writing more stories now with female comedians in mind, and that’s refreshing, because people are getting bored of seeing the same old formulas. 

Filmmakers are bringing that trend back into fashion now that I’ve made it very clear that I’m here to stay. 


So if the pairing trend is reappearing do you think it’s fair to say your on-screen pair is Santhanam?

Absolutely. People loved us from our very first spoof on VTV in NTEP, and it still plays on many comedy program segments today. So I think it’s only natural for people to associate us together, but I also don’t want to fall prey to the pair trend too much, because I don’t want people to ever think that “we can’t cast Vidyu without Santhanam”. I would love to act even in 100 more movies with him, but at the same time I want to make sure I carve my own name for myself. But if you notice in NTEP I don’t really play a comedian’s role, it’s just that because I was paired with Santhanam I was automatically considered a female comedian. I already struggle with being typecast as a comedian, but at the end of the day I love making people laugh so I can’t complain about that.

I would love to act even in 100 more movies with him


So let’s talk about the cherry on the top of your 2014-cake – Vijay58! You recently tweeted that the film is just ‘massive’ & it’s your most taxing role to date!

I so badly wish I could reveal my character to you, Dil, but I have been given strict instructions not to reveal it to anyone! So in general, the film is a magical, fantasy film, and when I said massive I meant the lineup of actors and the technical input that is going into this movie. Actually all my portions are not on a set, they’re in front of a green mat! But the other sets that have been constructed are just larger than life, and I am in awe of it.

My costume itself is so heavy, so I sometimes feel so drained by the middle of the day, like I can’t do it anymore! But be it my costume, or the way I speak Thamizh in this movie, or the general physical appearance of my character – I definitely feel this is going to be a film that will change the way people look at me in the industry. Up until now I’ve always played these urban avatars, and this film is going to be so different. And to act in front of a green screen without any actors around, just having to imagine Vijay standing somewhere is not easy. I hope the audience accepts this film well because Vijay has never been in a fantasy film before, and I think this movie has the potential to change the landscape of Tamil films.

Vijay has never been in a fantasy film before


Shifting away from your movies, you recently had the fortune of meeting Superstar Rajini sir. Can you tell me about that experience? 

My dad wanted me to meet him in general, because I had never met him before and it was the most candid 40 minutes of my life. He just radiated warmth while he asked me about the projects I’m doing, and congratulated me. And so I told him that “You know, sir, I’ve acted with all these big heroes but it’s my dream to act with you, even if I just appear in a scene with you for 30 seconds, that’s enough for me, I don’t need anything else” and he immediately said “definitely, in the next film itself we’ll make it happen.” So I’m still holding on to those words and hoping he’ll remember me! But that’s the good thing about Rajini sir, he has an elephant’s memory, he will remember! He even remembers the smallest good deeds people did for him years ago. He never lets go of his past, or what he was before he became a Super Star. So I’m learning from him how to treat people and co-workers, because when you respect the industry, it will respect you back. I think his long innings in the industry has a lot to do with the way he has conducted himself professionally, the way he treats each and every person and the amount of humility he has.

He even signed my 2015 date book and blessed me. It meant a lot to me, especially with K. Balachandar sir’s recent death, because my dad used to take his date book to KB sir to sign every year! That was a yearly practice for him to take his blessings on January 1, and now maybe his daughter has a similar tradition with Rajini sir. KB sir was Appa’s mentor, so I was very fortunate to meet him & receive his blessings right after NTEP released. I remember that conversation vividly. He was telling me what kinds of characters to accept & reject, and how I should go about paving a way in the industry. I am very lucky to have had that.

Rajini sir, he has an elephant’s memory


So when we first talked for Behindwoods in 2013, we discussed your interest to bring American style sitcoms & sketch shows to Indian audiences. Are those goals still on your to-do list?

Definitely! I am highly impressed with some of the Indian sketch shows I see on Comedy Central these days. Even in Chennai there are a growing number of stand-up comedy gigs happening in local pubs every week, which is great. The city is going through a whole new wave and people are opening up to these traditionally westernized-styles of comedy now so I think it is just a matter of time before it finds a formal place in Tamil entertainment and I am looking into ways to help make it so!


We recently discussed your disappointment over big films all being saved up for certain festivals, leading to major clashes at the box office, sort of like what might happen this upcoming Pongal. Last year you were in both of the big Pongal releases, so what are your thoughts on this trend?

I think it’s absolutely ridiculous to say the least. If your film is good it will generate buzz and people will go see your film irrespective of the date! At the end of the day what matters is the quality of the film. With all these big films saved for one day, it never ends up as a win-win solution; even if something ‘beats’ another it is just by a marginal amount! We should be looking at spreading films across the year so that at least whatever money is being invested in films is being earned back. Big budget films especially, like I, deserve solo releases, because the problem is that we don’t have that many screens here in Chennai to accommodate so many films releasing on one day. We need to be more practical.

With all these big films saved for one day, it never ends up as a win-win solution


Thank you so much for taking the time chat with me today Vidyu! Last question: what are your professional & personal resolutions for 2015?

Professionally I hope I do a lot of films in 2015 and that people appreciate and accept me as more than what they have accepted me as in the past. I also hope I receive a larger variety of characters that will allow me to expand my range. Personally, I intend to manage my time better and plot my priorities out properly! 


Well you have a lucky, Superstar-signed date book to help with that this year!

True that!




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