Superstar Rajinikanth starred in Bharathiraja's directorial debut film 16 Vayadhinile but he says the veteran filmmaker never accepted him as an actor.
"I like Bharathiraja very much. He likes me, but in his old interviews, when journalists used to ask him his opinion on me as an actor, he would say, 'He is a good human being.' He never accepted me as a good actor. I could always read his mind voice, 'How do people accept him as an actor?'," Rajinikanth told PTI at the inauguration of Bharathiraja International Institute of Cinema.
Rajinikanth, 66, says Bharathiraja asked for his 'time' only on two occasions in his four-decade-long career.
"First was the call sheet for '16 Vayadhinile'. The second is to attend this function. I too was a film institute student. Although I learned more from my mentor late K Balachander on sets, I know how studying in a film school could be helpful and hone your skills," the "Kabali" actor says.
Bharathiraja, 75, says he is happy that he has played a minuscule role in Rajinikanth's incredible career.
"I saw Rajinikanth as a simple guy when he played the villain in '16 Vayadhinile'. Now, he has reached unattainable heights in his career. I'm happy that I've played a minuscule role in it. I would never say I played an important role in his career growth. He's a self-made man."
Actor Kamal Haasan, who has collaborated with Bharathiraja on films such as "16 Vayadhinile", "Sigappu Rojakkal", "Tik Tik Tik" and "Oru Kaidhiyin Diary", says the director contributed a lot to his career in the industry.
"Bharathiraja is a 'Samana Munivar.' Back in the time, I used to scold youngsters who would come to Chennai to become the next 'Bharathiraja.' Cinema is a democratic art put together by a group of 200 people or more. A lot of mistakes are bound to happen in a project. That's why we call a director the 'Captain' of the ship. Bharathiraja learned everything as a creator properly and crossed a lot of hurdles effortlessly. He is a great hurdler."
Asked about the nepotism controversy surrounding the National Film Awards, Haasan says the jury comprises of 12 members and that both good and bad things are bound to happen.