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Mani Ratnam wanted Rekha to play the role of Aishwarya Rai in Ponniyin Selvan in the 80s, reveals why Rajinikanth is not part of film

a lot earlier Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was completed for the role of Nandini in Mani Ratnam’s direction Ponniyin Selvan-1, the maverick filmmaker had come up with another icon to portray that role. In a recent interview, Mani Ratnam said that in the 1970s and 80s, when he was thinking about making the film about the five-part novel, Rekha was who he wanted to collaborate with.

“At the time, in the 80’s, when I was thinking about making this, her (Rekha’s) name came to mind. That’s what I thought at the time, but I never approached her,” the director tells Pinkvilla.

When asked how excited a superstar like Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was to work with Ratnam again after Iruvar and Raavan, the filmmaker said that actors make time for the film, and he wants them to be excited to work on the project first, instead of him: “They date for the movies, not me. And if they’re available, they’ll come, and that’s how I like it. I want them to be invested in the story first, it’s not for me. And Nandini is completely different from what she has done before.”

At one point, Ratnam was asked if superstar Rajinikanth wanted to be part of Ponniyin Selvan-1, said the director that he may have once called something along those lines lightly. “I can’t just bring in a superstar, I have to be honest with the story. So I told him (Rajinikanth) that I will take a rain check with him about that,” Mani Ratnam said. He was also questioned about a possible collaboration with his Dil Se actor and superstar Shah Rukh Khan, to which he simply responded with, “I should have a script ready for him, then I can go to him.”

Ponniyin Selvan has a whole host of stars including Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Jayam Ravi, Trisha, Karthi and others.

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