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‘I’m not your typical Kodambakkam star’

‘I’m not your typical Kodambakkam star’

Jayam Ravi is in a great space as an actor. He is in a position in which he can afford to choose many firsts — the first zombie film, the first Indian film set in space — and yet hope to satisfy commercial expectations.

Without much fuss, the actor — who burst into the scene in 2003 with Jayam , a film that has subsequently become his first name — is steadily rising in the ladder in Kollywood.

Currently, he is excited about the release of director Vijay’s Vanamagan , in which he plays a tribesman lost in a big city, and is looking forward to beefing up for his role in Sanghamithra . Excerpts from a chat:

Your association with director Vijay has been on the cards for a while, but it took so long for it to materialise…

We wanted to get together since his first film! But I guess it happens when it has to.

When he handed me the script of Vanamagan , he said he didn’t want to narrate it as it was his dream project and that he was unsure if any actor would take it up because there are no dialogues for the lead character. But I loved it and wanted to take it up.

You mentioned you didn’t have to deliver any dialogues. Isn’t there anything that the tribals speak?

There is. We invented a language. It’s not gibberish but has proper grammar and a dictionary.

There’s a simple trick to how we invented this, which we will reveal once the film hits screens.

Was this — having no dialogues — the plan all along?

Vijay narrated two versions of the script. In the first, my character learns Tamil once he reaches Chennai. The other option was to travel without dialogues.

I wanted to go ahead with the latter. After all, didn’t cinema begin without dialogues? Isn’t that why we like Charlie Chaplin even now?

But without dialogues, all eyes are your performance, and that’s a big challenge…

Exactly. That’s the difference between a film and a novel. In a novel, the readers use their own imagination to visualise. But in a film, we restrict them to the imagination of the director. So when I’m not talking, it’s up to the audiences to imagine what’s going on in my mind.

How tough was this for you as an actor ?

We didn’t have any references to draw from Tamil cinema. So we saw videos online of tribes, their everyday life and interaction with the outside world.

We learnt that some of these tribesmen don’t use metal at all. A few of them never leave the group. They are great engineers and doctors. And their instincts are fantastic; for instance, not one tribal at the Andamans died during the tsunami.

They sensed it and all moved to higher grounds. But what did we city-dwellers do?

Where does Jayam Ravi, the star, fits into all this?

I think the line between the star and an actor is thinning. So when a star tries a film like this, the audience will appreciate it. I don’t see myself as the typical Kodambakkam star. I recently tried Thani Oruvan , a realistic film, and that worked big time. Right now, my career is at its peak and the time is right to take calculated risks.

Tell us about the effort that went into making you look like a tribesman.

We roped in National award-winning make-up artiste Pattanam Rasheed to take care of that. He wanted me to apply five layers of make-up and chop my hair to get that look. Even for the body language, I didn’t want to bulk up as tribals don’t go to gyms!

Usually, actors choose a lighter, 40-day film after completing such a challenging project. Instead, you’ve chosen to do Sanghamitra , a massive epic.

Director Sundar C is like family to me and Sanghamitra is a script that he’s had with him for 15 years. This project is a dream come true for me, especially because AR Rahman is part of the team.

Pre-production has been going on for a year and as we speak, a massive set is being erected in Hyderabad.

We invented a language. It’s not gibberish but has proper grammar and a dictionary. There’s a simple trick to how we invented this, which we will reveal once the film hits screens

Sanghamithra versus Baahubali

This movie has been in Sundar C’s mind for 15 years. It’s an epic in its own right. We have seen hundreds of love stories, but aren’t they all different from each other? If Ramayana and Mahabharata release on the same day, won’t both of them become hits?

A space of his own

The second half of my next film Tik Tik Tik is entirely set in space. For the gravity-defying sequences, we were hanging on ropes for almost the entire day. My son Aarav too debuts in the film and plays a pivotal role.

 

Source: The Hindu

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