August 2, 2019 1:42:41 pm
Senior actor-director Revathy, dressed in white, enters the room with a warm smile. “It has been quite a while since I met some of you,” she says, referring to a few journalists present. “Jackpot has two hours of clean entertainment,” adds Revathy, who had worked with the film’s director Kalyaan in his previous outing Gulaebaghavali. “There are a bunch of directors I always trust and Kalyaan is one of them. Whenever he calls me with a script, I am there,” she tells. As Revathy assures Jackpot is going to be total fun, Jyotika joins us. A conversation with Jyotika is as good as watching her films. As we talk, the chat jumps around till I am no longer sure where we started.
Excerpts from the conversation follow.
On filming Jackpot
Revathy: I never knew I could dance so well. Thanks to Kalyaan for the confidence he had in me. He is hardworking and knows what exactly he wants. Actually, Jyotika was kind of confused on the second day of the shoot. She didn’t understand Kalyaan’s working style, but I told her to believe in his conviction.
I am selective about the roles I do. Truth be told, after Pa Paandi, I didn’t get good stories. Half the directors approached me to play mother roles, but I wasn’t interested. Why should I do something I don’t enjoy? It’s not about ‘mother’ roles, but how they were stereotyped.
I love comedy but rarely I have had opportunities to explore the genre on-screen. Take Arangetravelai, for example. Even today you watch the film, you don’t get bored. Kalyaan loved the film and has retained my character’s name (Maasha) in Jackpot. I had the same name in Gulaebaghavali too. I had a great time working with Jo. She is a director’s delight and I would love to direct her someday.
Jyotika: Revathy ma’am and I have been presented as heroes in Jackpot. She has been a huge pillar of support throughout. It’s not often that we get a fun script like this. I got to do all ‘mass-y’ things that a typical hero does—larger-than-life shots, punch dialogues and foot-tapping background score and 50 dancers behind us. That’s the best part! (Laughs)
Kalyaan saw us as equals and was never hesitant in extracting the work he wanted. I gave some of my lines to Revathy ma’am since they were difficult. (Smiles) We complemented each other so well on the sets and naturally, it reflects in the output. In particular, the comedy tracks in Jackpot are situation-based and written in a hilarious, interesting way. We completed the film in 25 days.
I had learnt silambam for Raatchasi, which was put to good use in Jackpot. I trained under Pandiyan master and practised it for six months. Every day in the garden, my kids and Karthi’s wife Ranjini do silambam. It’s refreshing. Even as my kids saw Raatchasi, they were keen about Jackpot’s release as it has a lot of action scenes. My daughter is proud of me that I ride a bullet. Her school essays will always have a mention that I am a supermom. (Grins)
Now vs then
Revathy: My six-year-old daughter asked, “What does an actor mean?” I told her we get to do different stuff and we are never the same person every day. That’s what I love about films.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have worked with stalwarts of cinema—Bharathiraja, Bharathan, Mahendran, Balu Mahendra, Priyadarshan and Mani Ratnam among others in the initial stages of my career that made me the person I am today. As for comedy, I have enjoyed performances of Chandrababu, Nagesh and Manorama. A sense of humour is something that’s often highly valued in a person. I am all for healthy humour and quirky characters.
I would have done, at least, 150 films so far and I wish I could do something along the lines of what Big B did in Sarkar. In fact, I would love to play a powerful don. See, when I did Pudhumai Penn, I was 17. I didn’t know much about acting or the craft of cinema. I simply did what my directors asked me to do. Now, it is not the case. I am far more mature. I understand character arcs better.
Jyotika: There’s a constant need for an actor to reinvent herself. You can’t do the same thing as the audience expects something different with each film.
Challenges of being a woman in cinema
Revathy: Mann Vasanai ran for a year in Shanthi Theatre, Madurai. Is it possible now? With minimum 20 films releasing a month, how can a viewer watch them all? So, they easily zero in on what entertains them and proceed. It’s unfortunate.
Though nowadays, directors write good roles for female actors, I would always say the 80s was the best time. Right from Suhasini, Bhanupriya, Radhika to Urvashi, Saritha—we all got substantial roles. We did women-centric films, but they were never labelled that way. Last week, I was thinking about what’s the need for anyone to classify films. Films are films, after all.
Further, it is difficult to survive in this industry being a woman. I am one of the founding members of Women in Cinema Collective (WCC). Women come together and are there for each other in this initiative which is active in Kerala. It is not that functional in Tamil Nadu because many female actors weren’t willing to join us.
Jyotika: Of course, I agree with Revathy ma’am. It’s not easy. I don’t think without a supporting husband, a female actor can do what I am doing. Hey, wait. Suriya is my ‘Jackpot’. (Smiles) I would say this is the best time to be in movies. Things have changed for the better.
Directors write stories for me, which is a welcoming sign. I have the liberty to do films under our home banner 2D Entertainment. Again, without Suriya, this wouldn’t have been possible. I feel like home.
The audience should encourage films that female actors do. How much does a hero-oriented film collect at the box-office and where do my films stand? It’s not even quarter the amount of what a hero’s film makes. Everyone needs to know that we finish off a film quickly than male artistes. Say, they take five days to complete an action sequence, we just take a day. While they take six months to wrap up a project, we do it in a month. But on the flip side, we don’t have great technicians to support our product. For instance, why can’t AR Rahman do music for a woman-centric film?
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