Rajini Chandy who entertained the Malayali audience as the energetic grandmother in Oru Muthassi Gadha is busy tending to her organic garden. She isn’t bothered about the hullabaloo on the social media after the pictures from her recent photo shoot came out. Instead she concentrates on preparing a fabulous lunch of bitter gourd and egg plant curries from her garden and tasty pearl spot fry and spicy lentil soup. Rajini, a sexagenarian, shines as a female star in Malayalam cinema where male actors enjoy amazing popularity even after turning sixty.
However, her latest makeover photo shoot created a furore on the social media. Moreover, it exposed the double standards of the Keralites who appreciates male actors for their style and panache while criticizing women if they do something unique. But, Rajini says that a good person would be hiding inside everyone who posts a nasty comment on the social media. In a candid interview with Manorama Online, Rajini talks about the photo shoot and how she deals with online trolls.
Why did you decide to do such a bold makeover photo shoot?
I met photographer Athira while shooting for an advertisement. She had showed me a few pictures that she had clicked. While showing me one of the pictures, she asked me whether I wear swim suit. I said that I wear one when I go for swimming. She then asked me whether we could do a photo shoot together. I agreed and did this photo shoot. Athira wanted me to wear a swim suit. But, I told her that I wear a swim suit only when it is required and that I didn’t want to wear it in public. Athira then came with the outfits that I had worn in the pictures. I agreed to wear those clothes and we did the photo shoot.
Were you concerned about how the society would react to a photo shoot like this?
I was obviously tensed. I usually wear saris and wear pants and tops too. I am not someone who wears too much makeup. I always wear regular clothes whenever I go out, especially after acting in movies. I want those who know me to still see me as their beloved ‘aunty’ and not as a celebrity. I wish to enjoy their love and care forever. Anyone can come to me and talk to me just as before. When Athira brought me the outfits for the photo shoot, I asked her whether people would speak badly about me. But, I couldn’t disappoint her as I am someone who keeps my words. So, I decided wear those clothes. I didn’t think it as a mistake. I still believe that I haven’t done anything wrong. I would never feel bad as long as l believe that I am not in the wrong.
Your pictures are receiving lots of nasty comments?
Yes, I know that lots of bad comments are being posted. There are people who wondered why am I not dead yet. Some asked me to go and die. But, it is up to me to decide what to do with my life. Why would others care when my husband and kids have no problem at all. My children, grand children and lots of youngsters who are also my relatives said amazing comments. They congratulated me saying that I was looking fabulous in the pictures.
I do this for my own happiness. I am almost seventy. But no one has the right to tell me to go and die. Neither the person who posted the comment nor do I know what would happen in the next moment. We just have the present moment at hand. It is important to be happy at the moment. If a person gets happiness by posting a nasty comment, then be it. I would think that I have become a reason for them to be happy. I have no regrets as long as I do not hurt others.
Would a person’s life end as soon as he/she turns seventy?
In my opinion it doesn’t end. Every person must be given the space to live his/her life in the way they like. In foreign countries, most people begin enjoying their lives after turning sixty. Old people aren’t supposed to stay inside their houses, cooking for their children and grandkids. Just like the children, the aged parents too should have the freedom to live their life as they wish.
The children in a family that I know began working from home since the lockdown began. Their mother, meanwhile, got stuck, doing all the chores. After the day’s work, the children would go out to chill. This poor woman would wait for her kids at home as she doesn’t have the freedom to go out. What kind of attitude is this? People who are past sixty too should be able to enjoy their lives. They need freedom until the day they die. They too have the right to be happy. They have the right to wear the clothes they like or wear makeup. I wish to convey such a message through this photo shoot.
Did you feel sad seeing all those unwarranted comments?
I am not as bold as you think. I am someone who laughs when I am happy and cries when I am sad. You have already seen that in the reality show. My husband Chandy is the reason why I am so happy even at this age. He has taken very good care of me. He always tells me to do whatever makes me happy and forget about what others may think. There is goodness even in those who post a nasty comment. They may be doing it because of a sudden rush of emotions. Some time back, I told a youngster who posted a bad comment that I wanted to meet him. He immediately apologized and said that he had deleted the comment. He told me that he wrote that comment after one of his friends convinced him that I was an awful person. We then spoke a lot and became good friends. Later he told me he couldn’t believe he had commented badly about such a nice ‘aunty’.
If you feel badly about a person, then it is better to call that person directly and speak to them. It is better to understand more about them rather than just spilling venom. It would only make the person who makes the comment look bad. People find time to speak ill about someone than appreciating others. As far as I am concerned, I have two laws; one is not to desire another woman’s husband and the other one is not to wish for an object owned by someone else.
Whatever else I do is my freedom. I should have the freedom to run or jump or wear whatever I want. Why would anyone else bother about it? Try to see good in every person. People addressing me as ‘ammazhi or thalla’ don’t bother me at all. Neither have I any interest in covering up my age. Aging is something that is inevitable. If I am old today, then tomorrow you will be. I am only concerned about staying happy and healthy at this age.
What are your new projects and future plans?
I am waiting for the release of a Tamil movie. Meanwhile, another Tamil project is under discussion. I haven’t committed anything in Malayalam yet. Besides, I have recently started a Youtube channel. I am working for my channel. I am also busy with homemaking and tending to my kitchen garden. I would definitely accept if interesting projects come my way. I love to enjoy jokes and laugh always. I have an amazing group of friends. Staying happy is the most vital thing. I wish to live the rest of my life on my own terms and wishes.
Crew behind the photo shoot:
Clicks – Athira Joy
Makeup – Kiran Black
Retouch – Ashwin, Franks Sebs
Assistant – Vishnu Venugopal