Interviewer: Inian | Camera: P.Ganesh Babu | Text: Jyothsna
Career graph of Jai, who commenced his career in a small cameo in Bhagavathy as Vijay’s brother, is climbing steadily. Chennai-28 and Subramaniapuram earned him a good name and the actor’s diary is filled with plum roles in films like Vamanan, Aval Peyar Thamizharasi and Goa to name a few. Waiting for the release of his next film Vamanan, the actor spoke to

Which section of do you read?

Jai: One of my favorite entertainment websites is Recently I came across Top 20 directors and Top 20 heroes in your site. My name figured in the 13th spot amongst many established artistes. I really felt good and thank you all.

How and when did Vamanan happen?

I had completed Chennai-28 and was starting work for Subramaniapuram. I think it was in September 2007 when director Ahmed met me and narrated the story of Vamanan. However, I did not like the story then and was not able to fathom its power. Hence I did not give any answer. Ahmed told me to inform when I am free to do the film and I felt he was a bit pompous too. Later, after I completed Subramaniapuram, my friend Raveendran suggested Ahmed’s story to me and I informed him that I had already listened to the script but felt that

" I was the one

who misunderstood

Ahmed "

the director was not too keen to do the film. But Raveendran said Ahmed wanted to work only with me. He also explained that as Ahmed is a resident of Singapore, his body language and mannerisms are different which may give a misleading signal to others that he is haughty, but actually he is not. I realized that I was the one who misunderstood Ahmed. Later on, after doing Subramaniapuram, I acquired some kind of maturity and was able to understand the story of Vamanan better and accepted the film.

" Ahmed

is big find for

Tamil film industry "

About director Ahmed

Once when I started shooting Vamanan, I began to understand Ahmed better. He has absolutely no airs. He is the most casual director that I have ever come across in my career. Although this is his first Tamil feature film, he is not perturbed by any thing and is always in control of the situation. He is not changed one bit from the first time that I saw him in 2007. That’s when I realized looks are deceptive. Though I agreed to do the film for its storyline, the respect and faith I had on it increased manifold because of Ahmed. He does not hurt anyone and his feedbacks are always well conceived and justified. At the same time, he will also take our ideas if they are valid enough. He has incorporated many of my suggestions in the film.

Working style of Venkat Prabhu, Sasikumar and Ahmed

In Chennai-28, Venkat Prbahu will narrate the contents to artistes and when there is a mistake, he will correct it. In Subramaniapuram, Sasi sir’s working style was like that of Ameer’s or Bala sir’s. He will somehow bring out what he wants from the artiste. I found Ahmed a different breed from these two types. Few scenes, he would go by what I did and a few scenes the other way round. I think Ahmed is big find for Tamil film industry.

Your roles in Chennai-28 and Subramaniapuram

In Chennai-28, I was just like myself. I went to the shooting spot, did what the director told me, had fun with the other boys and came home. Subramaniapuram was different because I needed to do major ground work to portray a person from the 80s and that too from Madurai. It took some time for me to become someone from a different period. I was expected to have the body language, speaking style and mannerisms of a person from Madurai and it was difficult. But I got settled with the second schedule.

Your role in Vamanan

In Vamanan, the character I play is very similar to the real me. The transformation was much easier for me. Cinematographer Arvind Krishna was keen to showcase me in a beautiful manner. Both Ahmed and Arvind changed me for the better. The hair style, the beard, the bell bottomed pants, the long collard shirt, the locations and most of all the smile of Subramaniapuram Jai will not be there in Vamanan. Ahmed wanted me to smile differently in Vamanan. He was very keen that there should be absolutely no trace of Subramaniapuram in Vamanan. Though it appeared difficult, it was easy for me to change, thanks to Ahmed and

" Ahmed and Arvind

changed me

for the better "

Arvind Krishna. Many of my friends, after seeing the posters of Vamanan asked us to add ‘Jai Nadikkum’ as a prefix because I sport a completely different look and it was difficult for people to identify me.

Aval Peyar Thamizharasi

Shooting of Aval Peyar Thamizharasi is complete and dubbing portion is pending. My role in Aval Peyar Thamizharasi will be very different from that in Vamanan. I have tried my best to show distinction in every role I play and I work hard for the same. In Vamanan, I have done all my stunts whether it was jumping from 1st floor or from 16th floor. In one of the sequences, I had to jump from 16th floor and while I was coming down with a rope tied to me; my shirt got stuck in 15th floor. I somehow got myself untangled and did the stunt. To think of it now, I don’t know how I did it. In AVT, the hard work is different. We went to places at high altitudes which were not fit enough for walking and shot many scenes.

It has been said that as you moved to Goa, your portion is still pending in Aval Peyar Thamizharasi?

My portion is almost over in APT and only song sequences are pending which are generally shot at the end. We will go for the song sequences a month prior to the release of the film and wrap it up.

It was said that you tried your best to feature in Goa. Is it true?

" Venkat Prabhu

is my
director "

It is not like that. Venkat Prabhu is my director. In Saroja I was responsible for forming the Chennai-28 group in a scene. When I wanted to feature in just one scene in Saroja, the director said that there was no scope for such scene. I was basically keen to appear in Saroja just like that, not any big role. There were many ideas like to imitate Paruthi Veeran in a bearded get up. Finally on the day of shooting, the traffic sequence where rumor was spreading was conjured. Nithin Sathya, Vijay and everyone turned up with just one phone call. That’s when they shot the

scene of me sitting inside a car. Venkat Prabhu had planned his next film when he was doing Saroja and he told me I was one of the three boys in Goa. When he called me for Saroja, I was shooting for Subramaniapuram with a beard. That’s why I could not do Saroja. Now that I am in Goa, I feel fortunate to work under a big banner.

How is Soundarya Rajnikanth as a producer?

She will be at the shooting spot but will not interfere in the working. She smiles while we shoot comedy sequences. Undoubtedly Soundarya Rajnikanth is a big plus point for Goa. She is ever willing to spend money for the film. She has planned shooting spot in Malaysia just because it is rainy season in Goa.

" Soundarya

Rajnikanth is a big

plus point for Goa

What is your take on the red card issued to you by Producers Council?

We may have many friends in life but only a few will be close to our heart. We may have fights with them basically due to lack of communication skills. I have got into problems mainly because I was misunderstood. I guess I need to face these things. I cannot simply act, receive claps, build a house and settle down in the industry. It is part and parcel of life. I had to speak and answer queries. It was a tough time for me then. I got into a problem for stating that a film may not do well and my health was not good as I had to undergo an eye surgery. It was a turbulent time for me and I kept to myself. I will only blame myself for this because I should have ensured whatever I had said was understood correctly. I will see to it such mistakes don’t happen in future. There were a lot of positive information about me in the media but after this incident, negative feedbacks have started coming. To clear that negative image, I want to do many good things.

" I did not struggle

to become

an actor "

Your transition from music to acting?

I learnt to play keyboard from 1995 to 2002. I come from a family of musicians. Deva and Sabesh Murali are my uncles and Shrikanth Deva and Bobo Sashi are my cousins. When I was going for recording for Shrikanth Deva, I met director Venkatesh who offered me a small role in Bhagavathy as Vijay’s brother. That’s how my acting entry happened in a very casual manner. I did not struggle to become an actor. Playing keyboard was a very cushy job in the sense that I had to sit inside an AC room for eight hours and get back home. Of course, I needed to work hard but it was different from a work of a hero. I have not completely given up music. Even now after I get back from shooting, I play for a while sometimes.

You have been repeatedly stating that Simbu and Ajith have helped you in your career. Can you elaborate on that?

Between my first two films, there was a five year gap. I did not take up any acting assignment because I thought I was not suitable for the job. In this time period, it was Simbu who helped a great deal. He was extremely supportive and gave tips on what kind of films to choose and about all the nuances of the trade. In fact he gave me a small role in Alai but later felt it may not be the right thing to do for me. He advised me from what kind of interviews to give to how I should speak. From the time that I came into the field till date, Simbu is the one who helps me day in and day put. He is very caring too.

After the release of Chennai 28, the first call that I got was from Ajith. He appreciated my performance in the film and conveyed his heartfelt wishes to me. I am sure it is only due to Ajith’s blessings that I got a film like Subramaniapuram. It is his positive vibrations which helped me. Later when I was going through a rough patch in my life, it was Ajith who encouraged and gave me a lot of strength to face things. I owe a lot to Ajith and Simbu who are my pillars of strength.

" It is only

because of

Ajith’s blessings

that I got a film like

Subramaniapuram "

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