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'I will miss Jeeva very badly'
Shobha Warrier | June 26, 2007 16:09 IST
Tamil director Jeeva's last film before he died was the big hit, Unnale Unnale. This was one of the two films -- the other being Chennai 600 028 -- which survived through Rajnikanth's [Images] Sivaji.
Like Shaam, Asin and Arya, Vinay was also introduced by Jeeva.
Vinay was returning to Chennai after a pilgrimage to Vaishno Devi with his family when the news of Jeeva's death reached him. He pays his tribute to the great director.
I cannot get over the shock (of Jeeva's death). I don't think I will for a few days. I can't believe that a man so young (Jeeva was only 44) and so talented has gone forever. This is too much of a shock for me. I have lost a good friend.
Two years ago, I got a call from him inviting me to act in his film Unnale Unnale. He had seen my Fair and Lovely ad on television, and that was why he called me. It was a huge surprise for me. I met him and his wife and from then on, I have been very close to him and his family.
When the film started, as I had no acting background except acting in a few ads. He used to enact every scene for me. For the first two schedules, I was following what he told me. But when the final two schedules started, he instructed me and everyone else to improvise. He was very liberal. I would say 99 percent of what you see in our acting was nothing but his contribution. He wanted the movie in a particular way and he got it that way.
The last day of shooting was very sad for me because it was my first film and I had become close to all of them, especially to Jeeva Sir and Raju Master. It was a very sad feeling to leave the sets for the last time.
He advised me on what my strengths and weakness are. That will be our secret, which no one will ever know.
He was very serious on the sets but off the sets, he was a family man and very jovial. He was strict with his artistes but that is the way you get the best out of your artistes. He was very strict but he also gave us enough room to relax. If things didn't go well, he would shout at us and if we did well he would compliment us also. When he was very happy with the performance, he would hug also -- at least, he hugged me.
If the film is a huge success, all the credit goes only to him because it was his vision. Jeeva Sir had a dream and he pushed all the actors to the limit so that we had a great final product. Unnale is his dream, his film and his vision. Even before its release, I knew the film would be a huge success because when someone puts in that much hard work, nothing can go wrong. I would have been really surprised if it were not a hit.
I was in touch with him all the time even after the film got over. I would consider him my godfather but he was so liberal that he would like me to be his friend. He used to say, 'Vinay, go ahead and work hard. Work harder and harder.'
When I met him a couple of months back also, he told me the same thing. He said, 'when I have a bad day, I put in thrice as much hard work. That is what I want you also to do.' I remember he had a tough time shooting in Australia but he rose above all the difficulties and worked harder.
When I got other offers also, I took his advice. I spoke to him a few days ago when he was shooting in Russia [Images]. It was just to find out how everything was going. Our relationship was not like one between a director and an actor; he was like a godfather, friend to me, someone I looked up to. He was one person from the industry with whom I was very close. I will miss him very badly.