Rajinikanth's next film, after Shankar's Enthiran (2010), was supposed to be Rana, a historical drama film to be directed by K. S. Ravikumar and dually-produced by Soundarya R. Ashwin's Ocher Picture Productions and Eros Entertainment. However, Rajinikanth became ill and was treated for dehydration and exhaustion at a hospital, resulting in postponement of Rana's filming.
On 23 November 2011, for her maiden directorial project, Soundarya tweeted through her Twitter account, notifying followers to watch out for an official announcement.
The following day, she announced that her father's next film would be titled Kochadaiyaan and that she was "[grateful and] excited to be directing [her] father". A tentatively scheduled release period of August 2012 was also announced.
Soundarya further stated that K. S. Ravikumar had worked with her father and herself on the script of the film. The director clarified that Kochadaiiyaan was not related to the same-titled history series being published by the Tamil magazine Kumudam.
For the female lead role, Anushka Shetty was initially approached, but sources confirmed later that she was not part of the film. It was then rumoured that Asin Thottumkal and Vidya Balan were being considered for the role, since producers preferred a Bollywood actress. Soundarya R. Ashwin approached Bollywood actress Katrina Kaif in January 2012, who was not able to give her dates and the team reapproached Balan.
Despite reports that Kaif was finalised, Deepika Padukone, who was slated to pair with Rajinikanth in Rana, took up the offer in February 2012, marking her debut in Tamil cinema.
The film began to increase its casting profile after Malayalam actor Prithviraj was rumoured to have been signed to play an important role in the film.The rumour was falsified following the inclusion of Aadhi, Sneha was reported to be finalised for a supporting role, with the actress confirming her presence in the film in December 2011.
Rukmini Vijayakumar, who made her debut in the film Bommalattam (2008), was signed in her place. R. Sarathkumar accepted Soundarya's offer for an important role in the film while veteran actor Nassar was recruited in the film as well for a supporting role.
Furthermore, Shobana and Lakshmi Manchu were said to be considered for a role in the film. Bollywood actor Jackie Shroff, who was last seen in Tamil cinema playing a crucial role in the critically acclaimed Aaranya Kaandam (2011), was also signed up for an antagonistic role.
Peter Hein was chosen as the film's action choreographer, while A. R. Rahman agreed to compose the film's background score and soundtrack. Rajiv Menon was recruited as the film's cinematographer. Soundarya invited art professionals to send their work as she was forming an art department for Kochadaiiyaan.
She handpicked 42 students from Government College of Fine Arts, Chennai for the task, besides 50 experienced persons from the Jacob College of Fine Arts. 60 concept artistes were already reportedly working for the film.
On actor Rajinikanth's looks, the director quoted. "First, we (the team) scanned his face and made a 3D model to get the exact precision of his features, such as the scar on his nose. And then we corrected the 3D model by tightening his skin to make him look 25 years younger. They used that technology in the film Tron." The youthfulness of the look was compared to the looks that Rajinikanth carried in his film Muthu.
The film posters claimed filming to utilise performance capturing technology, same as that used in films such as Avatar (2009) and The Adventures of Tintin (2011), making Kochadaiyaan the first Indian film to involve so. K. S. Ravikumar, story writer of the film, announced that the filming would commence from 15 January 2012. The first schedule of indoor shooting started with Rajinikanth's base actions being filmed as per the motion capturing norms.
The second schedule of the film was shot in Thiruvananthapuram at Chitranjali studio and Vismayas Max studio. The second schedule was completed on 30 April 2012. The team was off with the lead actor to Hong Kong for the third schedule of the film on 12 May 2012 where some crucial scenes and combat scenes featuring the lead actor and the antagonist were shot at the State of the Arts Gallery studio.
Since the film was shot using performance capture technology, 48 cameras were used to shoot each and every scene. The 48 cameras captured performance of artistes' at 48 angles. Kochadaiiyaan was equipped with Auro 3D sound technology, becoming the third Indian film to do so.
Although reports of November 2012 suggested that lead actress Deepika Padukone would dub her own voice for the Tamil version, it was later announced that she would dub only for the Hindi version as the makers of the film felt that the film's "chaste Tamil" would be a "tad difficult for her". In June 2013, Soundarya announced that the film would feature a fight sequence "in the middle of the ocean", where Rajinikanth's character would be fighting dolphins. The dubbing for the film's Telugu version Vikramasimha began on 25 August 2013.
Rajinikanth has rendered his voice for a song in the Kochadaiyaan soundtrack. The song, composed by A. R. Rahman, is said to be a philosophical theme song called Ethirigal Illai. It was penned by Vairamuthu and recorded on 11 March 2012. This is the second time, that the actor took part in playback singing for a film, earlier he had rendered his voice for the song Adikuthu Kuliru in the 1992 film Mannan.
Rajinikanth also sung the theme song in the Hindi version, which was co-sung by A. R. Rahman and penned by Irshad Kamil. Sony Music Entertainment has acquired the music rights of the film.
The first trailer of the film was all set to be screened at 66th annual Cannes Film Festival in mid-May 2013, however it was delayed due to Soundarya's dissatisfaction over the final cut of the trailer. The first teaser trailer was released digitally on 9 September 2013, coinciding with Ganesh Chaturthi.
Initially, the film was set for a November 2012 release in India. In course of time, the release date was advanced to September 2012. Later, reports stated that Soundarya Rajinikanth was planning to release the film on 12 December 2012, coinciding with Rajinikanth's birthday. However, it was postponed to January 2013 due to extensive post-production work.
The reports of February 2013 strongly considered the film to release on the eve of Puthandu in April 2013. Though on 3 March 2013, the makers of the film zeroed on 5 July 2013 as the release schedule, later reports of June 2013 suggested that the film would be released on Diwali.