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'I'm sure the masses will enjoy Singam Puli'

Last updated on: March 3, 2011 16:31 IST

'I'm sure the masses will enjoy Singam Puli'

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Shobha Warrier in Chennai

Film producer R B Chowdhary's son Jiiva started his career in an offbeat film called Raam, directed by Ameer.

He made a strong impact in films like Ram's Kathrathu Thamizh and Major Ravi's Keerthichakra. Among the young actors, it is Jiiva who is known to perform even the most difficult roles with ease.

Off late, Jiiva has been seen in commercial films like this week's release, Singam Puli.

Jiiva has some interesting films in his kitty like K V Anand's Ko and Shankar's Tamil version of 3 Idiots.

In this interview, Jiiva talks to Shobha Warrier about Singam Puli and acting in off beat and commercial films.

You play a double role for the first time in Singam Puli, which means Lion and Tiger. Are you both the lion and tiger in the film?

(Laughs) I thought the same when I was offered the film. I found the title funny as I have mostly acted in off beat films, and not such commercial films like this one. I found the script and the double role quite interesting.

The characters are like Singam and Puli. One is Siva and the other Ashok. Both are very strong characters.


Image: A scene from Singam Puli

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'After Kamal Haasan, I talk in the Chennai slang the best'

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How different are these two?

As much as a chalk and cheese. Siva is a fisherman and Ashok, an advocate. Siva is an angry, straightforward guy with a good heart. Ashok is a smart crook. He is also a casanova who tries to hit on every woman in the city. I found both the characters quite interesting.

How did you prepare yourself to portray the fisherman character? What did you do to get the slang and body language of a fisherman?

To tell you the truth, I didn't do any preparation. I didn't do any research for my role in Jananathan's E either, where I played a man living in a slum in Chennai. Somehow, these characters come easy to me.

Many have told me that after Kamal Haasan, I talk in the Chennai slang the best. When I met Rajni Sir, he said that I spoke Tamil especially the Chennai language in a very authentic way.

How did you pick it up? Was it by listening to people and mimicking?

No, not at all. All my life I have been seeing these kinds of characters. I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth and lived in one of the posh localities in Chennai. But I observe people without anyone noticing it. Somehow, many things remain inside me.

Image: A scene from Singam Puli

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'There is nothing great or new about the story'

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What was the director's contribution in helping you with the slang and body language?

He was an assistant of Jananathan, who made E. So I knew him well. He is also from north Chennai. So he knows the way these people behave. He helped me portray the characters authentically.

I found it easier to portray the fisherman than the casanova. Once I got the hang of it, I felt comfortable. When my wife saw the film, she said, 'I never knew you could patao girls so well and you can be so flirtatious!'

Are these two characters brothers, or two independent people?

I won't comment on that. There is nothing great or new about the story, I admit. It is a pure commercial film.

You started your career in an offbeat film called Raam. You have also acted in films like Kathrathu Thamizh. Why have you shifted your interest to commercial films now?

I have to act in commercial films to get accepted by everyone. It was not a decision to move from offbeat to commercial films. If I get to listen to the script of an offbeat film today, I may accept it. It is not that I have moved from one type to another. Every film is important to me.

In fact, after Raam, I acted in a commercial film, Dishyum. Keerthichakra was not an offbeat film. E was offbeat. After that, I did an out an out commercial film called Pori which bombed big time!

Then came Kathrathu Thamizh. It was not a commercial success but gave me a lot of appreciation as an actor from critics and the elite crowd. Even today, they write good comments about my performance on social networking sites.

After that, I did a film called Rameswaram, on Sri Lankan Tamils. It was not well received here but was a success abroad. Siva Manassulla Sakti is a commercial film but that was the film that took me to the entire Tamil Nadu. All the films are close to my heart.


Image: A scene from Singam Puli

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'I asked Shankar to give me Sharman Joshi's role'

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When I interviewed K V Anand, he said he was so impressed with Raam and Kathrathu Thamizh that he wanted you in Ko.

After he saw Kathrathu Thamizh, he called and congratulated me. He wanted me to do Ayan but then it became a high budget and Suriya stepped in. When we met, he said, I always wanted to do a film with you. I then asked him, why did he cast Simbu in Ko!

Now you are enacting Sharman Joshi's role in Shankar's remake of 3 Idiots. How was it playing a character that you have seen another person do?

When I met Shankar to talk about the film, I asked him to give me Sharman Joshi's role. I loved the character and his attitude.

The fact that another person has already done it made my job easy. If I had done that in the first place, I may have done it differently. Now, I will do it the way Sharman Joshi did. I don't have to try for a different dimension as he has done it perfectly. He is a very good artist. I don't try to make my performance different.

In Tamil Nadu, only a small percentage of cine-goers have seen 3 Idiots. Perhaps 2-3 percent only. So the Tamil audience will see only Jiiva in the role and not Sharman Joshi.

Many people have asked me whether I was nervous doing such a big film. I am not nervous at all. Had it been my first film, I would have been nervous.


Image: A scene from Singam Puli

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'It's always fun to be working with a big director'

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Are you enjoying shooting for the film?

Absolutely. It's always fun to be working with a big director, big technicians and a big banner. I have not started shooting with Vijay Sir yet. The scenes involving Srikanth and me were shot in Ooty. They have come out very well.

What are your expectations from Singam Puli?

I don't know. You can't say anything when the World Cup is going on. It is heartening that Gautham Menon'sa Nadunisai Naigal had a very good opening. Let us see how Singam Puli will be received. I am sure the masses will enjoy the film.

So are you nervous with the release?

Not exactly. I am quite confident. When I did this film, I didn't have Ko, 3 Idiots or Vandhen Vendran. I thought this film would take me to the next level. I had that much belief in the film.

Image: A scene from Singam Puli

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