Blink and miss
Rakul Preet knew when she signed up for Selvaraghavan’s NGK opposite Suriya, that she would have a lot to learn. She didn’t know then that she would have a lot to unlearn too.
The first lesson she learned was Selva’s ‘no blinking’ rule. It’s as it sounds; actors in NGK were asked to not blink while saying lines. “This is easier said than done. Since it was totally new for some of us, it took quite some time before we got used to it. I had to remember to be expressive, remember my lines, but just stop blinking. Sometimes, our eyes would tear up after a long dialogue.”
Selva also instructed his actors to follow something called the ‘three-second rule’. This meant that any time an actor spoke, Rakul had to wait three seconds before responding. “He likes his actors to pause, absorb the essence of the other person’s words, think and then reply. It’s how we talk in reality, instead of simply spitting out a prepared dialogue.”
The most challenging scene for her was one with Suriya on a hotel balcony. “It was of a long conversation; we both had lengthy dialogues to memorise. It took all my concentration to pause for three seconds every time before a line, instead of simply recalling all my lines!’
Even how the songs were shot was different, she says. “There were very few cuts. Selva sir wanted us to emote the lyrics with our eyes. He would enact the shots before filming. After NGK, I now truly understand why they say that Selvaraghavan makes you explore another side of yourself as an actor!”