Cinema

The three magic words: Actor Siddharth on Jil Jung Juk

Calm, content… these are words rarely used to describe actor Siddharth, who’s a bundle of infectious energy. But he seems to be at peace with himself as we sit down to discuss Jil Jung Juk, his latest as actor and producer. Ensconced in the favourite corner of his well-worn sofa, facing a wall lined with the hundreds of movies he’s watched since childhood, Siddharth says he can’t be happier. “I needed a change of pace after Kaaviya Thalaivan and Enakkul Oruvan, and had to do something that made me smile. Jil… was that movie. I produced it; so technically, I spent money, yet entertained myself. Every single day, I got home happy that I could bankroll this movie,” the actor says of the Deeraj Vaidy directorial that falls in the thrilling space among adventure, comedy and action.

The film’s first look, teaser and song — ‘Shoot the Kuruvi’, released by Salman Khan — have got people on social media talking, and Siddharth says he’s delighted. “To think we shot in Chennai and Kancheepuram, used dummy clapboards, and hid my blue hair under a hat,” smiles the actor. He says the film demanded that kind of stealth. “It has a mind-blowing core. We needed to shoot silently, conserving all the energy within,” he says.

The film brings together a motley bunch of fresh faces, backed by some senior performers. “Their enthusiasm was refreshing — the mean age on the sets was 23! It was fun watching them work without any fear, prejudice or expectation. They dreamt big, and the sheer audacity of youth helped them pull it off,” says Siddharth.

The actor is all praise for Deeraj, who makes the transition from shorts to films with Jil... “He mooted the idea in 2014 and approached me again in January 2015 with a ready pilot and a bound script. I was impressed and wanted to be a part of his ambitious vision.”

In Jil…, set sometime in the future, Siddharth plays a character with a pronounced Chennai slang. “It’s a bit of a Dystopian movie, so we’ve gone all out with our imagination. I’d like to believe we’ve made a ‘hoot, hoot, whistle, whistle kind of film’.”

So much so that even overly self-critical Siddharth is happy with the output — “because of the work the boys put in”. Jil… involves a lot of VFX work, and post-production is currently on, in time for a year-end release.

The film will be big on technology too. The teaser, which released last week, celebrates gloss and style. “I’m in love with everything tech; we’ve tried to offer great quality, working locally. And, I’m happy I managed to put together a team such as this.”

Among the many surprises in the film is music, helmed by Vishal Chandrasekhar — “I’m not being immodest, but I think we have a few youth anthems ready.”

The film is the first solo project of Siddharth’s Etaki Entertainment. And, the whole process of costing and budgeting saw him tapping into his MBA roots. “I love the back-end of the business. Costing is an art, and it’s fulfilling when you help someone soar even while keeping costs realistic, and within budget.”

Costing is important, says Siddharth, because it frees up the creators to do their job. “Also, a film needs to make money. Period,” he says. That’s also why he’s very fond of director Sundar C. “His sets are a riot, and he knows the pulse of the audience. He gave me my biggest commercial hit in Theeya Velai Seiyyanum Kumaru. That’s why I immediately agreed to star in Aranmanai 2. I wanted to be in a film that people head to in droves, a film that appeals to all, and a film that is a true-blue blockbuster. Also, my parents tell me I must work often with Sundar. I’m a happier person, thanks to him.”

After Jil Jung Juk and Aranmanai 2, Siddharth will dive headlong into three projects Etaki is looking at. “Last year, I did a rethink about my life — personal and professional. I sorted out a few things. Now, I know where I want to be in five years,” says Siddharth. And yes, the Telugu industry, where he was hugely popular some years ago, is part of his plans. “I grew bored of bilinguals. Now, I’m super impressed with the kind of work happening there — Srimanthadu, Kanche…”

Right now though, Siddharth’s focus is on a high-octane film starring three boys and a pink car, among other things.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 3:15:21 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/cinema/the-three-magic-words-actor-siddharth-on-jil-jung-juk/article7869369.ece

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