interview He made the audience sit up and take notice with unusual roles. Jeeva is now ready with two out-and-out entertainers. s. r. ashok kumar writes
He entered the scene with ‘Aasai Aasaiyai’ but it was ‘Ram’ that threw the spotlight on Jeeva. ‘E’ showed him up as an artist willing to essay offbeat roles. After nine films, Jeeva, son of R. B. Chowdry whose Super Good Films has accounted for several hits, looks confident even as he is fully immersed in the making of ‘Thenavettu’ and ‘Siva Manasula Sakti.’ Excerpts from an interview.
What brought you into cinema? Was it your father’s association with the industry as a producer?
His presence helped, yes. But it was never planned. My answer to director Ravi Mariya (Aasai Aasaiyai) when he first asked me if I was interested in acting was ‘no.’ I repeated this to my father when he asked me the same question. I wanted to go abroad for higher studies. And when I came back I wanted to work behind the camera. Father felt I’d be losing five years, I could give acting a shot and try other areas too. That made sense and I decided to act. What I realised was that to do justice to acting I needed to dedicate all my time to it.
Did you like the experience?
Aasai Aasaiyai, incidentally, was the 50th film of Super Good Films. On the first day of shooting I was tense. They took me to a temple and I was to look at my watch and say a few words. There were nearly two hundred people around and I felt all of them were watching me. It took me a week to get used to the atmosphere at a shoot and I slowly relaxed.
What was the lesson you learnt from your first film?
Not only the first film but also my second film Thiththikkuthe did not do well at the box office. However, I took it in my stride. “Your performance is good, but choose the right story,” was the advice I got from well wishers.
Did you expect Ram to be such a hit?
No, but I was thirsting for success. So I worked day and night to get the right feel. I did not cut my hair for nearly two years. I was happy that the film was appreciated by the common man as well as the connoisseur.
Did Ram fetch you more offers?
I was one of the spectators at a show in ‘Koothu-p-Pattarai’ when director Sasi saw me with shaven head (after Ram) and told me that the getup was good for his next film. He later narrated the story of Dishum and I was impressed. Half-way through the film I was involved in our own film, Keerthi Chakra in Malayalam (Aran in Tamil). I was privileged to work with Mohanlal. I’m happy the film has won a national award.
You think you have arrived?
Well, I think I’m improving with each project.
Of the nine films only fifty per cent is talked about. Why?
I don’t take my first two films seriously. In fact most people think Ram is my first film. Hits or misses don’t bother me much. Age is on my side and I’m confident I can produce quality stuff.
Do you think Pori and Kattradhu Thamizh were good too?
I won’t comment about Pori, but Kattradhu… is different. I worked very hard and my talent was noticed. It did not do well at the box office because of the problems between the director and the producer.
What about Thenavettu and Siva Manasula Sakthi?
I was a little hesitant to accept a project like Thenavettu. I had not done a full action-oriented film until then. The film has come out very well and I am sure of its success. Siva Manasula Sakthi (SMS) is a thorough entertainer. The script has been written that way.
When your films don’t fare well, there is always your father to come to your rescue. Right?
It is not like that. Some films such as Rameswaram are old commitments which I finished. It is my company too and I work for it. Ram, E and Keerthi Chakra came to Super Good Films through me. The company is producing a film with Cheran and I am acting in it.
Now, Vishal is going to direct a movie and ‘Jeyam’ Ravi is also contemplating one. What about you?
If I am going to direct a film, I should stop acting for at least a year. The project should really be worth it. Right now, I want to take Super Good Films to greater heights and produce movies of a high standard.
Best films — ‘Ram,’ ‘E’ and ‘Kattradhu Tamizh.’
Good friends — Arya, ‘Jayam’ Ravi, Karthi, Sandhya, Priyamani and Poonam Bajwa.
Good critic — wife.