Rai calls twin dialect films tough challenge


BUSAN, South Korea -- Indian superstar Aishwarya Rai says shooting two versions of the same movie simultaneously on a recent set posed the toughest challenge of her career.

Promoting the twin releases "Raavan" and "Raavanan" at South Korea's Pusan International Film Festival, the actress reflected on the unique experiment in Indian cinema. Attempting to reach out to speakers of both Hindi and Tamil, veteran director Mani Ratnam shot each scene once in each dialect based on the same story of a police officer whose wife is abducted by gangsters.

Adding to the challenge, Ratnam tweaked the cast for the two versions. While Rai appears in both, her husband Abhishek Bachchan skips the Tamil production. Tamil star Chiyaan Vikram takes on different roles in the two movies.

"I must say this is by far the most challenging experience of my career," Rai told a news conference Friday.

Rai said it was difficult to capture the same chemistry for the same scene twice.

"The thing about cinema is it's not about the number of takes that you take to get the right shot, but it's about all elements coming together. ... When that magic happens, you know you've got it. And then immediately you've got to go again because the light can change, the conditions can change," she said.

Rai added it was a physically taxing shoot that involved filming in heavy rain in the jungle.

"It was demanding. It was challenging — but creatively extremely satisfying. It was a high," she said.

The actors raved about the reception they received in Pusan, with Bachchan noting with delight that they were asked a question by a South Korean fan in Hindi.

"When you say anything, they go 'ooh' and 'ahh.' It's so nice because they feel so much and they are able to express it. As artists, you want to reach the audience. You want to have a rapport with the audience. There's nothing more wonderful than actually standing on stage and having such an appreciative audience," Vikram said.
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