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Jiiva: Nanban will be a great Pongal treat

Last updated on: January 11, 2012 13:56 IST

Jiiva: Nanban will be a great Pongal treat

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Shobha Warrier in Chennai

Jiiva's career is on a high after the stupendous success of Ko.

After finishing Shankar's Nanban, a remake of the Hindi blockbuster 3 Idiots, he has acted in Gautham Vasudev Menon's tri-lingual Nee Thane En Ponn Vasantham and playing a superhero in Mysskin's Mugammoodi. All of these are big films.

In this interview with Shobha Warrier, Jiiva talks about his first days on the Nanban sets, being directed by the eminent Shankar, and why he specifically chose to play the role Sharman Joshi did in the original.    

How was the experience of acting in a Shankar film?

I went to the sets thinking that the atmosphere was going to be quite stiff and very professional. But I found that Shankar Sir has this ability to make every actor feel comfortable so that he can elicit the best from him or her.

In the beginning, because I didn't get the hang of working with a director like Shankar, I felt stiff and was fumbling for words.

Why did you feel like that?

I was conscious of the fact that he was the director who had directed Kamal Haasan, Rajni sir etc. So, I was thinking all the time whether I was doing it right or not.

But even when I fumbled with the dialogues, he would assure me 'You did fine. There was some technical problem. So, can we do it again?'

That is how he makes actors feel comfortable. But when I saw it on the monitor, I understood that there was no technical problem and I was the problem.

Actually, I am always quite relaxed and jovial on the sets but here, I was very silent on the first two days. That affected my performance. I generally listen to music, make noise and have fun; I just freak out. But I didn't do anything of that sort thinking I should behave well on Shankar Sir's sets.

After he made me comfortable, I was my real self!


Image: A scene from Nanban


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'I am an actor who doesn't like rehearsals'

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Does Shankar prefer spontaneity or method acting?

He prefers spontaneity. I am one actor who doesn't like rehearsals. I don't give even 50 per cent of the performance in the rehearsals; maybe only 25 per cent. I like to save the real performance for the take. When it comes to the real take, I am more spontaneous. Shankar sir appreciated my way of acting.

You told me when you joined the film that you preferred Sharman Joshi's role and told Shankar that. Any reason why you chose this role?

Even before Gemini bought the remake rights, I had watched 3 Idiots and the role that stayed in my mind was that of Sharman Joshi. I didn't want to do Madhavan's role, not because it is not great, but because I like the other one better.

I just loved the character. He has this super cool attitude; there was also comedy and also many emotional moments.

So, when I went to meet Shankar Sir after I got a call from his office, I dressed almost like the guy, in a very regular pant and shirt. I was clean-shaven and looked younger than my age. I went with a very goody-goody look.

Actually, before Shankar Sir was offered the film, the production house asked me whether I would do Sharman Joshi's role. My father and Gemini House have had a great relationship for many years. So, they knew me and offered me the role.


Image: Movie poster of Nanban


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'I knew it would be an experience working in a Shankar film'

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Why didn't you accept the role then?

I was shooting for K V Anand's Ko then. I was a bit confused when they offered me the role because I was doing Ko where the hero is larger than life. I didn't know whether to accept the role of a simple guy and that too in a multi- starrer. It was all in the mind.

When Shankar Sir chose to direct the film, and Vijay Sir was to do the main role, I decided to act in the film. I knew it would be an experience working in a Shankar film. I don't think I will get that experience in the next five years.

And I was right. I learnt so many things from him. More than anything else, you will be a good human being after working with him. Both Shankar Sir and Vijay Sir are composed and humble.

Is your character any different from what Sharman Joshi has done?

There are two differences-- one, I am doing it and the other, the character speaks Tamil in the film (laughs)! It is a remake and you are not supposed to go beyond a certain limit!

In the stills, you are shown with vibhooti...

Yes, I play Sevarkudi Senthil who is a god-fearing guy. In north India, you will not see people with vibhooti but here it is quite common.


Image: A scene from Nanban


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'I am sure Nanaban will be accepted by the people'

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Any particular scene that you still remember?

I liked the interview scene where I go in a wheel chair. I don't know what the audience will like-- the emotional scenes or the other ones.

I also enjoyed the scene where I, Srikanth and A J Suryah play pranks in college. I laughed while dubbing that scene.

I also liked the scenes after the suicide attempt. I liked the funny scenes more than the emotional ones. I was comfortable doing all those funny scenes.

Did the image of Sharman Joshi come to your mind at any point?

Not at all. Once I am in the character, I read the lines and follow the scene. The expressions and actions come automatically. At that time, you don't think of somebody else; you are Senthil and nobody else. I wouldn't say it was a conscious effort or anything like that. Whatever came to my mind at that moment came out.

What gave you a high-- the character or acting under Shankar?

Forty per cent the character and 60 per cent acting under Shankar Sir.


Image: A scene from Nanban


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'I wouldn't say Ko changed my image'

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Your career is going great guns now.

It is a big responsibility and I don't like to talk about it. It will restrict me if I start thinking about it.

I should thank K V Anand Sir and Ko for what is happening in my career now. I did a beautiful love story with Gautham Menon. I am a super hero in Mysskin's Mugammoodi.  

I wouldn't say Ko changed my image, but it changed my budget graph!

Does it put a lot of pressure on you?

I was under pressure when Ko was releasing. But it was a super hit.

Then, my two films which I signed before Ko released and I got paranoid. They didn't do well. Thankfully, Ko was still running and it didn't affect me. When those two films went out of the theatres, Ko was still running.

It is my good fortune that last year I got to work with some great directors like K V Anand Sir, Shankar Sir, Gautham Menon and now Mysskin.

Do you feel Nanban will be accepted by the Tamil audience the way 3 Idiots was accepted by the Hindi audience?

One hundred percent! I am very sure about it. The way it was presented and the way it was South-Indianised, it will appeal to the Tamil audience.

Only 10 per cent of the Tamil audience might have seen 3 Idiots. For the rest, it will be a great Pongal treat!


Image: A scene from Nanban


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