Actor Jayam Ravi will be seen as Raja Raja Chola in director Mani Ratnam’s theatrical adaptation of Kalki Krishnamurthy’s novel Ponniyin Selvan. Ravi reveals that to get into the skin of the character, he started thinking like a king.
In a press conference in New Delhi, the actor recalled the time when he met Ratnam for the first time to talk about the role. “He (the king) is Ponniyin Selvan aka Raja Raja Chola and it’s an important role. I was feeling that pressure but Mani sir made sure he took it off me by sharing certain details about the character. He told me that ‘Ravi, this is very important for me. We both have to do it and I cannot do it alone. So, whatever concentration you have, put it on the table. Let’s do it together.’”
Ravi added, “I am a director’s actor and if it’s Mani sir, then there is no question. I give my fullest concentration to him. First of all, I had that one hour of delay because I kept admiring Mani sir…and then he told me that ‘Ravi, snap out of it. We need to do it and we should address it.’”
Jayam Ravi further revealed how Mani Ratnam described his character. He said, “Mani sir said, ‘Wherever he (Raja Raja Chola) sees, it’s his people and his kingdom. He is politically correct. He is socially correct, how he is with his family, how he is with other kings. At the age of 19-20, he has constructed so many dams.’ These are the things which he said. I started getting that into my head and Mani sir told me to be in the same mood, go out of my office and be Raja Raja Chola for six months. This cannot happen in a day.”
Ravi animatedly presented how he changed the way he looked at everything around him to understand how a king like Raja Raja Chola would behave. He said, “I went to my house, sat on my terrace, I saw the people around me and thought ‘All these people are my people and I started realising that. Then I saw the beach and told myself that the beach is also mine and the 100 fleet of ship in it, everything is mine. It started out comically but it did help. The focus in the eye changes and it gives a beautiful feeling. It’s a difficult character because he has to be right to everyone.”