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.
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.