Hema Rukmani is the CEO of Thenandal Studios Limited. Under the banner of this production house she has carved a niche for herself to provide the theatre and film experience to Chennai audiences and has built audience relationship and tries to build chemistry which give theatre and cine viewers its superior quality. She is the daughter-in-law of late Director Rama Narayanan and married to Murali Ramasamy, who was then the CEO of Thenandal Studios Limited. Before her marriage, she did her journalism degree and wanted to become a journalist. But post-marriage, her father-in-law advised her not to become a journalist. This is how her vision in life changed forever. She opened a DVD library in Chennai which preserved mainly the foreign movies (from the US) and Mani Ratnam, Vaiko were members of the library. She also had chances to visit foreign locations and watch theatre shows in abroad after her marriage.

Watching plays in abroad provided her sheer excitement or amusement of a theatrical event. She discussed with her husband about theatre’s unique ability to incorporate into a dramatic material and timeless observations about the human condition. She frequently held talk with her husband why the theatre scene is not so good at Chennai. But this topic remained under the carpet for a long time. Later on, she came across a friend who came forward with a script of a play and this made her place her feet in theatres and plays. Actually, her friend came forward for a discussion for a play and not a film, and the project did not have a sponsor and it was a science fiction. This is how her first project in theatre at Chennai got literally kicked off. She took immense courage and brought out her first production play ‘Chillu’ (a futuristic Tamil Play) that received accolades from Kamal Haasan.

She was overwhelmed when Kamal paid a visit to the artist in their make-up room and caught up in a conversation with them asking them to rehearse their roles umpteen times before they perform. She was bowled over by Kamal Hassan’s remarks at the show. This play was also watched by Siva Karthikeyan and numerous accomplished folks from Kollywood. Her next adventure was a Karthik Raja musical show titled ’Pattanathil Bootham’ that featured Nasser, Manobala, Prasanna, Chinmayi, Rahul Nambiar and others who provided enchanting experience to viewers because the play incorporated music, dance, magic, stunts amidst 365 degrees LED display to connect the audience better. Her next project was ‘Chillunu Oru‘, a musical night Concert, that featured Rahul Nambiar, Shakthishree Gopalan, Anitha Karthikeyan, Ranjith, Aalaap Raju and his band. The money collected from this concert helped her to donate a lump sum for the ‘The Sugun Thomas Foundation’, Chennai. Theaters in Chennai is not a happy scenario because here they make quality-controlled films, she opines very often. She even had sadly noticed that people had moved to cinema and TV because people try to showcase their talent in these two platforms.

Hence, she tries to bring theatre from the perspective of cinema background and she has been quite successful too in her endeavor. She feels there was a time when people from theater migrated to the cinema and got recognition. She observes cinema can have a loose end where visuals will cover up. Where else in the theatres, one has to translate imaginary ideas to visuals. Rehearsal in play is always a different ball game, she opines. She confesses that a language is not a barrier for a play or cinema even. She also approached Bollywood actor Anupam Kher to do a play and was successful in doing ‘Mera Woh Matlab Nahin Tha’ with Anupam Kher and Neena Gupta. She always believes that the presentation of drama in theatre, film, and television are much alike. Both offer a story to be told in dramatic form but in different categories. She wants to take theatres to a new level in Chennai at any cost. In the 100th year of Thenandal Films, she feels lucky that she is a part of a big project titled ‘ Mersal’. She got a chance to get associated with a project of her husband which featured Thalapathy Vijay in a triple role in movie ‘Mersal’. This film is creating ripples at the box office circuit.

She is also working on a magnum opus project ‘ Sangamithra’, the shooting for which is yet to start off. This will be a historical drama to be dubbed in Hindi and Telugu. This project was launched in Cannes Film festival this year. This magnum opus will be directed by Sundar C and will be released in two parts. Recently, Hema Rukmani tweeted about the heroine of the movie ‘Sangamithra’ and confirmed that Disha Patani would be playing Sangamitra. The film will have two leading heroes, Arya and Jayam Ravi who will support Disha in her first Kollywood project. The film will go on the floors in December. Hema Rukmani and N. Ramasamy also produced a film 'Podhuvaga Em Manasu Thangam' starring Udhayanidhi Stalin and Nivetha Pethuraj which had a mixed reviews when released in August this year, But Thenandal film's 100th project ‘Mersal’ is creating a new milestone in the chapter of Indian cinema as it thrashed the box office records in the international circuit even.

She is hoping to take her project ‘Sangamitra’ and win international accolades the way ‘ Dangal’ or ‘Baahuabli’ had won. Hema Rukmani finds C. Sundar as a hilarious person and actress Khushboo as a dignified personality. Her other favorites from Kollywood includes Mani Ratnam, Bobby Simha, Kamal Haasan, Dhanush to name a few. Well, we find a few women film producer and it is great to think or write about a woman film producer. Hema Rukmani is a part of cinema, and she wants to be a part of Indian cinema where we will be able to find her for any initiative that gives women a way in.

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