Five movies, five genres… Jiiva's on a roll this year.

Almost a decade ago, a fresh-faced lad hit Tamil screens. He went by the name of Jeeva, and started off with popcorn romances such as Aasai Aasaiyai and Thithikudhe. Along came a director called Ameer with Raam, and showed us what else the boy was capable of.

Jeeva became Jiiva and acted in good offbeat films such as Katradhu Tamizh, Rameshwaram and E, alongside regular commercial fare. But, this year's special. He's already played a double role (Singam Puli) and a photojournalist (Ko), and is awaiting the release of Gokul's Rowthiram, Kannan's Vandhaan Vendraan and Shankar's Nanban.

K.V. Anand's Ko is his latest success story. The film came with a history with regard to the choice of hero (a couple of others were considered, and Simbu aka STR even did the photo shoot before opting out), but Jiiva was so bowled over by the script that he happily signed on the dotted line. He worked on the role — wanting to get the language, the accent and his look as a tech-savvy photojournalist absolutely right. “I was totally kicked about the script. And, director Anand told me that there were no boundaries to my character. He's sophisticated, street-smart, playful, intense, a romantic… there were so many shades. Ko was a very interesting experience,” smiles Jiiva.

Seeing his oeuvre so far, it seems the actor in Jiiva comes to the fore only off and on. The actor disagrees. “I choose films based on the script, and instinct. That's a trait I possibly picked up from my father (producer R.B. Choudhary of Super Good Films). I don't see whether it will be a commercial or a critical success. And, all my films, irrespective of how they fared, are close to my heart,” he says.

But, a few directors have got something extra out of his performances. Jiiva agrees. “That's true. Raam, E, Katradhu Tamizh, Siva Manasula Sakthi (SMS) and Ko have all given me wonderful breaks. I work differently. When the director tells me a story, my mind must absorb it. Then, I internalise and work on it, add my inputs — attributes, quirks, warts and all — so that the character comes alive on screen. It is vital that I feel the character for it to work.”

Jiiva also prefers to describe his films as “interesting” rather than “different”. “How different can we really get?” he laughs.

The actor has been working back to back on films for the past two years, and says he is looking for a break and a chance to work on one film at a time. “But, I don't know if I will like it,” he confesses. “I am so used to splitting my time between two films, two characters. I find it very challenging. Getting used to one film will take time.” But, he is about to find out for himself if he likes the experience. Shooting for Rowthiram and Vandhaan Vendraan wraps up by May 20. After that, he'll only be on Nanban mode.

Talking about Shankar's remake of 3 Idiots, Jiiva's excited. “When I was called for the movie, I requested Shankar to give me the role essayed by Sharman Joshi. I loved the attitude of the character, and felt it was a great role that will touch a chord in people.”

Love story with a twist

As for Kannan's Vandhaan Vendraan, all that Jiiva will say is it's a “beautiful love story with a twist, and a contemporary narration.”

Promos of his next release, Rowthiram, a family production, are already out, and it seems to be a brooding film. “Well, it's an intense film. But, there's action too,” he says.

Jiiva says some films have an impact on him long after the shooting is over. He gives the example of Katradhu Tamizh, after which he slid into near-depression, was lonely and refused to mingle with people. Marriage and a holiday helped to an extent. And then, Rajesh offered him SMS. Says Jiiva: “I was looking for a happy script. After SMS, my soul felt lighter. Films can do that to you too.”