Cinema

Luck by chance

Janani Iyer  

Even as she was waiting to move to Wollongong University, Australia, for her Masters, life had other plans for her. She was asked to meet director Bala for an audition and in no time became part of the cast of Avan Ivan. Janani Iyer couldn't believe her luck. “Several girls had been tested and to think that I was the one selected was incredible!”

Janani has just finished her work on Paagan, her second film, which has Srikanth as the hero. And as with Avan Ivan ( AI), she has dubbed in her own voice for Paagan too. In an industry that thrives on imports from neighbouring States, as far as heroines go, here's a beautiful leading lady who belongs here and speaks flawless Tamil!

Paagan has been directed by Mohammad Aslam, who has apprenticed under Cheran, Radha Mohan and Ameer. “We shot in Pollachi and Tiruppur for Paagan, and when the crowd that had gathered called out, ‘Baby,' my name in Avan Ivan, I realised the impact my role had made. The great opportunity that came my way doesn't seem to have sunk in completely yet,” she laughs.

After a very serious sojourn with AI, Janani has plumped for a feel-good romance. “Yeah, khaki was my only costume in AI, but the city-bred that I play in Paagan has me in a variety of colourful attire.” The cast of Paagan includes veterans such as ‘Kovai' Sarala. “Initially I was quite apprehensive. She's a natural and keeps improvising before the camera. So it was quite tough for a relative newcomer like me to keep pace with her. But she made me feel absolutely comfortable,” says Janani.

As a well-known face on the ad film circuit, with 150 commercials to her credit, facing the camera must have been child's play for her. “Yeah, but acting is a different ball game. And I was the only newcomer in the AI unit. Bala would act out every expression and every nuance. All I had to do was imitate him. He's a genius,” Janani sings paeans to her mentor. “I really miss those 200 days of shooting with Bala.”

But how did this graduate from Saveetha Engineering College find her way to the arc lights? Going by the surmise that modelling is a stepping stone to cinema, Janani's film entry seems predictable. So I'm surprised when she tells me that Bala hadn't watched any of her ad films. Not even her most popular ones? “No, he happened to see a photograph of mine and through a common friend, sent for me,” she says. And it wasn't as though Janani was keen on cinema. “Commercials started off as a hobby, to fetch me some pocket money, while in college. But before I realised, it was slowly becoming my profession,” she says.

Yet after AI, her career didn't zoom as it ought to have. “I was listening to several scripts but was quite wary of signing on the dotted line. Any way it's just been a year since AI happened and I have Paagan coming out next. I prefer to wait and work in meaty roles. Hopefully I'll begin my third project soon,” she smiles.


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Printable version | Jan 19, 2022 6:16:51 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/luck-by-chance/article3436325.ece

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