In 2005, when P Vasu’s Chandramukhi was released in the theatres, Raghava Lawrence was among the many loyal Rajinikanth fans waiting to enjoy the star’s comeback after a three-year hiatus. Now, 17 years later, Raghava is stepping into the shoes of Vettaiyan Raja in Chandramukhi 2, a character that was played by the superstar in the original.
Chandramukhi 2 is a sequel to the blockbuster which co-starred Jyothika and Prabhu. The film itself was an adaptation of the Malayalam classic Manichitrathazhu (1993), which has been remade in almost all Indian languages. Speaking to Film Companion, the actor reminisces about the first time he watched Chandramukhi in the theatres. “To be honest, I was not satisfied with the first half of the original. Rajinikanth sir didn’t have any major scenes. Before that, we have seen his performances and powerful roles in films like Baasha and Annamalai. It was different in Chandramukhhi and I was skeptical about the film at that point.”
However, he began enjoying the film in the second half. “The film took off after the interval and Rajinikanth sir entered his zone with mass sequences. Once the Vettaiyan character was introduced, I knew that Chandramukhi was something special. I enjoyed both Rajini sir and Jyothike ma’am’s performances and loved the film.”
Playing a character that was essayed by Rajinikanth is a rare chance, but not an easy one, Raghava says. “I am not the first person to take up a role that was played by Rajinikanth sir. Ajith sir did it first with Billa. I am the second person who is fortunate enough to get this chance. I have done my part with fear and responsibility. It was never about giving a better performance. Instead, I just wanted to safeguard the integrity of his name by doing a good job.”
Raghava also points out that the comparisons between the two films are inevitable. But he asserts that this might change after audiences watch the sequel. “Although I am playing Vettaiyan Raja and Kangana Ranaut is essaying the role of Chandramukhi, we are not playing the same characters as was seen in the first instalment. All comparisons will last only until people view the film. They will realise that it's a totally different experience.”
Directed by P Vasu, Chandramukhi 2 will hit the screens on September 28.