Camera: P. Ganesh Babu | Interviewer & Text: Jyothsna
As the menacing Pandya in Kaakka Kaakka, Jeevan was easily the most hated person but the Machakaran went on to become the most envied man, continuously romancing not one, not two, but many heroines in his film(s). His latest Naan Avanillai 2 has made the audience, the distributors and the producers happy and the actor is ready for his next release, Krishna Leelai, a Kavithalaya production.

Meet Jeevan in conversation with Senior Editor Jyothsna Bhavanishankar.

How has been the response for Naan Avanillai 2?

Jeevan: The response for Naan Avanillai 2 is better than Naan Avanillai 1 as per the trade and distributor’s report throughout the state in addition to Chennai. The response is positive everywhere. It is a fun and enjoyable film. It is an out-and-out commercial flick which can be seen in a relaxed manner. We have got what we had aimed for.

Your experience working in Naan Avanillai 2?

It is not a new team for me as this is the third film I am working with them after Naan Avanillai 1 and Thotta. When we had completed Naan Avanillai 1, we did not

" The response for

Naan Avanillai 2

is better than

Naan Avanillai 1 "

have any idea to do a sequel. But the success of the film made us consider doing a sequel and this is the first time in Tamil film industry, a sequel is made. There are a couple of firsts associated with this project. First, a remake of a Tamil film in the same language and second, a follow-up film. Hence we started Naan Avanillai 2 at the same point where Naan Avanillai 1 ended.

Will part 3 of Naan Avanillai follow?

Not sure, we have just given a small slot for it. Let’s see!

What prompted you to enter film industry?

I cannot say that I nurtured ambitions to become a film star or anything like that. In fact, till my high school, I did not much watch films. Later, I became interested in theatre and got myself trained. Offers from Tamil cinema started coming in and that’s when I did my first film University. I am not from a film background and did not plan to be in film industry. However, after having entered this industry, I am serious about what I do. So its only destiny that has brought me here.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of not having a film background?

There are many advantages and a few disadvantages. On the positive side, it is only ‘I, me, myself’ who decide every move of mine whether it is right or wrong. I take the onus when a film succeeds or flops. There is no one to help me around or choose scripts. This is not difficult, as I have been independent right from my childhood and take my decisions. I am not in anyone’s clutches. This independence has helped me learn a lot on my own instead of

" I am not in

anyone’s clutches "

someone teaching. When I experienced this at the start of my career, it was definitely advantageous for me. On the flip side, entry into the industry has been difficult as you need to have a Godfather. But I have the biggest Godfather on my side - the real GOD - who helps in every endeavor of mine. Otherwise, a person who is completely novice to an industry cannot move up in a ladder like this. God is with me.

Usually people start as villain and become hero but you did just the opposite. How did it happen?

I just wanted to play around. I did not have any fear or apprehension doing anti hero roles. When I heard Gautham Menon’s Kaakka Kaakka, I knew this film would make noise. You either love Pandya or hate him but you can never ignore him. The script was woven in such a way that you cannot overlook Pandya. So I decided to give it a try and also realized that it is rare to get such an opportunity. Secondly, University was not released then and hence I was not aware of its results. I started Kaakka Kaakka shoot three months before the release of University. It was a nice experience working with Gautham Menon, who was confident about the audiences’ response to my character.

" You either love Pandya

or hate him but you can

never ignore him "

Did you get a call from Gautham Menon to work with him later?

Yeah... I got a call from him to work in the Telugu version of Kaakka Kaakka. I was not very keen as I had other commitments. Moreover, I had chopped my hair then and Pandya character had a specific set of mannerisms and body language with his hair. I did not want to do the role without my original hair. Plus, I don’t know Telugu and it was a barrier for me. That’s why I could not do the Telugu Kaakka Kaakka. But that aside, Gautham calls me for his parties and we touch base quite often. But professionally I have not got a call from him after Telugu Kaakka Kaakka.

By and large, your roles have some amount of grey shades in them. Don’t you think you are getting stereotypical?

After Kaakka Kaakka, I did Thiruttu Payale in which all the characters had grey shades who were cheating someone or the other. In the film, the point that was made very clear was, anything that was got in the wrong or illegal way, be it money or sex, is not good for life and one is bound to get into trouble due to this. All the characters in the film had some shades of deceit in them. Towards the end of the film in the climax, there is a strong message that one should work hard to get money. As regards Naan Avanillai, which was a remake of KB sir’s film, there was a bell of alarm to women that they should be careful while choosing their soul mate as it is a sensitive issue. Selecting one’s life partner should not be done in haste. One can have desires but not greed. These messages were given in the film which showed that the money that was gained was indeed donated to an orphanage.

In Thotta, my role did not have grey shades. In Naan Avanillai 2, the money taken from the girls is being given for Sri Lankan Tamil’s cause. Moreover, the girls who get cheated are not honest girls and they are also cheats and I cheat them. In real life also, I recently read in newspapers that a girl had sold her house for a few crores to help her lover. Hence such incidents do occur in society and I just happen to enact that on screen. That’s all!

Any favorite directors that you are keen to work with?

" We are in the

business of acting"

I don’t have any such specific set of people. I would be happy to work with anyone who could translate a good story into a wonderful film on screen. After all, an actor’s job is to perform and we are in the business of acting. I would love to work with anyone who has a good script and who would want to cast me. I don’t have any hang ups about working with any director.

Any dream role?

I don’t have any dream role. All I dream is that my producer and distributor should make good money from my films. The audience should feel satisfied seeing my films. This medium is powerful and we cannot be preaching people all the time. We are in the entertainment industry and we should entertain people. I only dream of doing films that would keep the audience entertained and the producers happy and I don’t have the time and age to try out something else. I have just started my career and I want to take it easy right now.

" We cannot be preaching

people all the time "

" Whoever wins,

they are my role models "

Your favorite artistes among the current breed?

I have always remained Rajni sir’s fan. I used to watch all his films. But I don’t have any role model as such. I like people who are successful. The world likes only winners and not losers. So whoever wins, they are my role models.

Your future projects?

In January Kavithalaya’s Krishna Leelai would be released. There are many offers that are coming my way. I have not signed on the dotted line yet. Right now, I am enjoying the success of Naan Avanillai 2.

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