Imaikka Nodigal, Adanga Maru, and now, Ayogya. Raashi Khanna might just be three films old in Tamil cinema, but a pattern already seems to be emerging. "I realise all three are cop films, but really, it is just coincidence," she says. While it may be a coincidence that her filmography so far has been coloured in khaki, Raashi believes that the increasing number of cop films is a sign of changing cinema. "Cinema is trying to reflect our society, and is trying to keep things real. I think our films are becoming more responsible," she says. There’s a question then to be asked about whether cinema should be a message-driven medium, whether these messages are getting through. "It depends on the film, but yes, often, what seems okay on paper doesn't really translate on the screen." Is her upcoming release, Ayogya, a message-driven film? "Its message will definitely get through. I have seen the original (Jr NTR's 2015 film, Temper), and a remake only makes sense if you are adding value to it. I believe director Venkat Mohan, Vishal, and the rest of the team have worked hard on this."
Although a remake is often thought to be an easy bet, it does have disadvantages, especially when it comes to comparisons to the original. Raashi shares that while her character in Ayogya isn't too different from Kajal Aggarwal's Shanvi in Temper, it is a bit more rooted and has more emotional depth. "As an actor, all you can do is give your best to what’s written for you. We don't have a say in the audience's response, comparisons, box-office returns etc... I never take the success or failure of a film too personally,” she says. “Vishal too will be dealing with comparisons to his character in the original. If we were worried about such things, we wouldn't have done Ayogya in the first place. I think it is important for this film’s message to reach more audience," says the actor, who is currently straddling both Telugu and Tamil film industries.
Having made her Telugu debut in 2014 with Oohalu Gusagusalade, the actor worked in almost a dozen films over the next four years before making her entry into Tamil cinema last year with back-to-back releases. "I don't think an actor can plan one's career in terms of which language they work in. You can't decide to work on only one language every year. What if you get a really good role in Malayalam or Hindi? It is all about picking the best of the ones offered to you. Overall, I am happy about the balance I have achieved," says Raashi, who also has sung a few songs in Telugu, and is looking forward to getting behind the mic for a Tamil song too.
These are still early stages in her career, but you can already see that Raashi doesn’t shy away from being part of multi-starrers. "I'm extremely secure as an actor, and don’t care about the length of my role. I've done a Malayalam film, Villain, which didn’t observe a conventional hero-heroine template. Even in Adanga Maru or Imaikka Nodigal, I play a character — not a heroine. All I want is for my role to have an impact," says Raashi, whose career continues to be on an upswing with Telugu films like Venky Mama, and Vijay Devarakonda's next in the pipeline along with Vijay Sethupathi-starrer Sanga Tamizhan.
For someone working with the cream of Tamil and Telugu cinema talent, what really makes her greenlight a project? "You can never judge a script in the beginning. Over a period of time, I have realised that picking a script is a gamble because the end result might be completely different from what was originally promised. So, I try to see if my character is well-written. I try not to do roles just to exist in a film. If I'm doing nothing significant in a film, why be a part of it?"
(This story originally appeared on cinemaexpress.com)