Jyotika goes back to school with ‘Raatchasi’

Jyotika in ‘Raatchasi’

Jyotika in ‘Raatchasi’

It’s 11 pm in the night, and Jyotika has had a hard day at work. She is in the outskirts of Coimbatore and spent the entire day shooting the crucial climax sequence for an upcoming film directed by Jeetu Joseph.

The scene involves some sort of a twist — something that Jeetu Joseph successfully tricked audiences in Papanasam ( Drishyam ) — but Jyotika will not breathe a word about it. “You won’t enjoy the film if I did,” she laughs over the phone.

That can wait — but the ‘twist she is looking for is currently in the education sector through Raatchasi, her latest release. Trailers suggest that the film will be a strong commentary on the way government schools ought to run, and as Geetha Rani, a teacher who takes on the system, Jyotika takes up the cudgels, quite literally, against the perpetrators of crime.

When she heard the story outline some months ago, narrated by debutant Gautham, there was initial reluctance. “But what attracts me is the kind of narration these young filmmakers give. They focus on content, and the way they narrate is arresting — no beating around the bush, no cliched scenes.”

What she found most appealing was that it was a very content-based film, and one that spoke about education — an issue close to her heart. Raatchasi’ s core focus is not something radically new in Tamil cinema — films like Sattai and Pallikoodam have taken this route in the past. But that didn’t deter Jyotika from involving herself. “Director Gautham’s approach was absolutely different,” she insists, “The father-daughter relationship is mature, real and non-cinematic, and I’m hoping people will relate to it. I think the dialogues of mine in this film are my strongest till date.”

Monikers like ‘female Samuthirakani’ (a Tamil director who is known to make message-based films) does not irk her one bit. She feels that cinema has a huge impact on the younger generation, and that the makers need to acknowledge that. “I have a daughter, and I know how much of an impact cinema has on her. If they have to grow up to be dignified people, they have to be told the right values, even if it’s through cinema. Kids will always prefer chocolate to fruit, but that does not mean you feed them chocolate all the time, right? I feel that filmmakers and actors, in a bid to gain fame and expand markets, lessen the essence of cinema.Eighty percent of commercial films are made just for entertainment and end up having the same storyline. It’s important to come up with good cinema even if it makes less money. Even if it influences 15 people in the theatre, it’s still worth the effort,” she says.

This is coming from an actor who caused quite an uproar by using a cuss word in her Naachiyaar last year, and that film — directed by Bala — was in many ways a ‘turning point’. “It was,” she insists, “Whether people liked it or not, Naachiyaar paved the way for many filmmakers to approach me with scripts. Somewhere, people seem to have liked the concept of me wearing a cop’s uniform, I guess.”

Shifting gear

Since last year, Jyotika says she has gotten atleast three scripts a month. “What I’m trying to do is pick the best among them that have something to tell the audience.” She believes that Raatchasi is one – and going forward, she has Jackpot , a film that has been directed by Kalyan, one with debutant Frederick and the one with Jeetu Joseph. “Young boys are writing scripts for a 40-year-old woman, and want their careers to be launched with that. Isn’t that heartening to see?”

When Jyotika hears a script and likes it, the one person she immediately bounces it off with, is her husband, actor Suriya. “It’s ultimately my decision but I really like it if Suriya hears it once, and gives an opinion,” she says, “He steps in to tell the director how to make it larger or what elements can be added. I feel calm and satisfied when he hears the storyline once.”

She admits it doesn’t always happen the other way around, “Big-film markets work differently, and most of what Suriya does, starts off with just a one-liner, and then the project develops. The scripts are written later, and shoot takes place much later.” But it was Jyotika who was one of the reasons Suriya took up his last release, NGK . “I am a huge Selvaraghavan fan. Even before he could hear the story, I said, ‘Please work with Selva.’” The film has met with mixed reactions, but Jyotika maintains that she loved Suriya’s performance. “I sat up in my chair during the climax and clapped for his performance. The last time I felt this way was during Pithamagan .”

Suriya isn’t her only bouncing board for cinema; there’s brother-in-law Karthi as well. She is teaming up with him — for the first time — in Jeetu Joseph’s film. “The set felt like home. He is a confident actor, and I’m enjoying working with him.”

There might be two leading heroes at home, but Jyotika doesn’t mince her words when talking about the stardom culture in Kollywood. “Everything is laid out on a platter for the male heroes. Half the battle for a big hero is won even before his film releases because they have a big music composer giving them superhit tunes. Wouldn’t it be beautiful if leading music composers like AR Rahman stepped out of their usual zones and composed for a woman-oriented film?”

Coming up next

Jackpot , her next release, will be a ‘mindless comedy’ but will feature several stunt scenes as well. “The catch was that it had to filmed in a very short span of time. I feel that the male heroes would have gotten four to five days for similar sequences, but since we had restricted budget, we got less than a day, and so the effort was tremendous.” This is also the film in which she will share screen space with Revathi. “There has been a lot of give-and-take on the sets. The best part is that she is very non-competitive, confident and sees the whole film as a director.”

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Printable version | May 24, 2022 6:17:54 pm |