Tamil Interviews

Self-Taught: The Iyshwarya Rajesh Interview

Iyshwarya Rajesh is a far cry from her on-screen persona. The prim and proper village belles she so convincingly portrays.
The real Iyshwarya, on the other hand, is bold and brassy. With just enough biting humour to keep things interesting.

And the first to fall victim to it – during our conversation – is her ‘modern role’ in Thirudan Police. She has graduated to wearing ‘blingy designer saris’ here. And that’s the big difference, she jokes.


Blingy designer wear in foreign locales.

Iyshwarya had earlier worn cotton saris for all her roles.


Thirudan Police releases later this week, and Iyshwarya is ecstatic about it. “Till now, I have played the namma ooru ponnu kind of roles,” she chuckles, “don’t get me wrong though, they have been good to me career-wise.”

But she felt the need for a change all the same; a little something to cleanse her palate. And this blatantly commercial film fit the bill. “My USP is that I can emote and dance pretty well. The problem is getting the director to recognise that,” she declares, “the pressure is there only till you get hold of an opportunity. Once you have it, you can impress the heck out of them.”

Despite being a great dancer, Iyshwarya bemoans the fact that she’s never had the chance to showcase her steps so far. The steps that she learnt without the help of a dance guru.
TV la daily music channel pottutu nalla aaduven.”

Yes, Iyshwarya is supremely self-taught.

“Caarthick Raju won me over when he told me that I’d have to dance for a couple of songs,” she enthuses.

Finally, she remembers telling herself.



And just like that, she was on-board.


Iyshwarya is also very matter of fact about those rocky beginnings. Her life under the spotlight began with a stint on Maanada Mayilada during the first year of college. Her first place finish on the reality show ‘opened a lot of doors’. “I was very keen on finishing education and initially put my cinema dreams on hold,” she

says. And it was only when she realised that she could handle both education and acting, did her debut happen. In a small film called Avargalum Ivargalum. It sank without a trace. “I don’t think many people would remember my first film. It didn’t do well at the box office, but I am still insanely proud of it. It was a milestone moment for me.”

The rest is public knowledge, she shrugs.

Iyshwarya then went on to audition for the lead role in Attakathi, but arrived late for the casting. “By the time I went there, Nanditha had already come on-board. But Ranjith liked the way I looked and acted and gave me the role of Amudha.” Though she hardly comes on-screen for 15 minutes, her role had a lasting impact on the audience. And won her pivotal characters opposite Vijay Sethupathi in Rummy and Pannaiyarum Padminiyum. “Imagine how it would feel to act opposite such an intense and popular actor? I was shaking when I met him, but he went out of his way to make sure I was alright. He is a gentleman,” she beams.

But the ugly rumours that linked them both did hurt the actress. “Personally, I don’t know Vijay Sethupathi much” – and she took it as a lesson of sorts. “He didn’t have anything to do with the roles that I got. I worked a lot to get here, and to have the result of all that sacrifice attributed to someone else is irritating to say the least.”

Now that she’s working on a third movie with the same actor, Iyshwarya has finally learnt to put it all behind her. Seenu Ramasamy’s Idam Porul Eval sees her essay the role of a Tamil pulavi from Madurai. “An intense role; very challenging and gave me sleepless nights!” is all that she offers. She also had to speak pure Tamil for the part and struggled to get it right. “I woke up every morning and read out my lines with full josh. It used to alarm my mother no end.”


Seenu Ramasamy was a tough task master, says Iyshwarya. She was a little wary of him, initially. A little afraid. “The thing with Seenu sir is, if you do your job well, he is the best director around. But if you suck at it, you cannot find a worse man. I heard rumours that he’s a very strict director was and was scared.”

But that changed the day when she performed a difficult scene in a single take. Seenu Ramasamy gave her a standing ovation.

Magale, he had said.


“Seenu sir became a father figure and treated me like a daughter. I strove to impress him and make him proud. We were a good team”. Towards the end of filming, he had told her that she’d lived the role he created.

Nejamagave Tamil pulavi aayitta’, were his words. “And just like that, all those days I spent practicing my dialogues and disturbing my mother’s sleep gained meaning,” Iyshwarya says with a grin.


If Iyshwarya is a little unhappy something, it would be about the way her roles seem to find her. Most of the roles she had bagged were written with someone else in
mind. Iyshwarya was brought in only when the original choice wasn’t available. “Every time I get a role that was rejected by someone else, I would feel terrible,” she confesses, “I hated being the second option. I would question the directors and they would do their best to convince me. It made me feel insecure. I was frustrated.”

She had worked long and hard, and viewed these second-hand roles as a sign that the directors didn’t believe in her. At least, not as much as they believed in mainstream heroines, anyway – who usually got the kind of roles she wanted to do. “See, it was not easy for me to get here. So when a mainstream heroine tells people that the director found her when she was crossing the damn road or when she was shopping in a mall, I don’t know whether they realise the seriousness of the whole thing. But I know the worth. I have been a part of some mokkai films and signed some roles that I really shouldn’t have.”


This is where the insecurity sets in, she explains. “You replace someone and expect to be replaced if you don’t do well. I needed to change the way I dealt with things. This could have had a harmful effect on my psyche. So, I began to deal with it better. I chose to accept myself first. The rest would come on its own.” And even if it didn’t, she promised herself that she’d be cool with it.

Because at the end of the day, nobody picked Iyshwarya Rajesh off the streets and made her a star. She was entirely self-made.

And that’s something you really can’t take away from her.


The Iyshwarya Rajesh interview is a Silverscreen exclusive.