Amy Jackson in Shankar’s I has been appreciated not just for her looks but also for her apt lip sync. The man who trained Amy Jackson on her Tamil dialogues for the film is Bharati Mani, an eminent Tamil writer who recently brought out his book Pulligal Kodugal Kolangal. A much respected man in literary and theatre circles, this septuagenarian has donned on different hats, one of them being a jury member in the selection of films for National Awards.
In a crisp chat with Jyothsna Bhavanishankar, Bharati Mani tells how it was to tutor Amy Jackson for I.
How did you get to know director Shankar?
I got to know director Shankar through writer Sujatha. I know Sujatha from my Delhi days when he used to be just Rangarajan.  We had shared a good rapport and used to be seen in many literary gatherings together. Shankar had seen me along with Sujatha in a couple of occasions.
During Anniyan, they had called me for the role of the judge pronouncing the verdict in the final scene. Looking at my expressions, albeit for a short while, Shankar was enamored and had apparently told his assistant director that I needed to be given a substantial role in his future films.
Later I was called for Sivaji but I could not honor the invitation as I was in Delhi then. Same thing happened in the latest I too.
Training Sayaji Shinde for Bharati
I have worked with Shankar’s assistant Jayaraman in Lenin’s Oorukku Nooru Paer, Nanba Nanba and such award winning films. Jayaraman was the associate director in Gnana Rajasekaran’s Bharati.
For the film Bharati, I was given the task of teaching Sayaji Shinde who played the title role in the film. It was I who transformed Shinde who had asked ‘Who is Bharati?’ to a completely believable and impactful Bharati in the film. Of course, I had acted in the film as Bharati’s dad but that was miniscule when compared to the role that I played in imbibing Bharati into Sayaji Shinde’s system. I had made him read the Hindi translations of the poet’s work, autobiography, took him to Triplicane and all those places in Chennai where the legend had lived and set foot so as to give Shinde the feel of Bharati. I had taught him extensively on the voice modulations and the meaning of every word. Of course he did not dub for his voice but people were astounded by his lip synchronization and wondered who trained him. Shinde was also very smart and assimilated Bharati completely and delivered a neat performance.
Therefore, having seen my work, Jayaraman suggested my name to Shankar to coach Amy Jackson in I.
Preparations for Amy Jackson
They just gave me one week to coach Amy before the first schedule began but I completed my work in three days. I explained the scenes to her thoroughly. I worked on her voice modulation and recorded everything and gave to her for practice. On the third day she repeated everything like a parrot!
How was Amy to work with?
Amy is like camphor, grasps things very fast and is extremely professional. She knows to respect people. There is no casual approach at all in her and she values time. She has good understanding capabilities. When she used to repeat in her cute foreign accent what I recorded and gave her, it was really enjoyable to listen and was quite endearing.
At I shooting spot
It was interesting to note that my training had helped Amy. For a particular shot, when Vikram took a couple of more takes, Amy breezed past the procedure with élan, much to the surprise of the unit. Shankar came running to me asking what kind of magic I had weaved over Amy for her to deliver the scene perfectly.
Any other contribution to I
I dubbed for the Doctor who features in the final sequences in the film. He was a Punjabi and spoke Hindi lines. There was no script for it. I had to speak in Tamil in alignment with his lip movement and use the right words to be in sync. I worked along with the editor and completed that segment.   

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