Back during the success meet of Adanga Maru, Jayam Ravi delivered a speech that explained his stand on recent social issues.
He shared that he thought of cinema as the only platform for him to express his social concerns and vent his rage on recent problems. I ask if Comali can be enlisted under that category of films, and he replies, “Yes, but unlike my previous films, the message conveyed here is quite basic and has been delivered in a light-hearted way. The centre theme of Comali is humanity. Prachanai vandha onnu serndhudarom, aana prachanai vandha dhaan seranuma? Why aren’t we having the same unity under normal conditions?”
Excerpts from the conversation:
We learn that you reduced around 20 kilos to play the role of a school student in the film. What was the clincher?
The school segment in Comali is 15 minutes long. If it was a two-minute sequence, I would have been completely okay with a young actor playing the part. This episode is quite detailed though and I felt the audience would feel hard to connect with the grown-up version of the character if it was played by a different actor. I thought for a moment and then decided to transform myself for this part. I took two months to lose the weight and was convinced only after the test shoot.
Thillalangadi, which can be dubbed the quirkiest film of your career, didn’t receive much love from the audience. Any apprehensions about Comali?
A good actor has to learn from his mistakes, and I believe I have learnt mine. Thillalangadi was the remake of a Telugu film called Kick (2009) and we had changed a few things for our audience. I guess the audience felt disconnected due to the change of flavour. Comali, however, isn’t just a comedy; it has many interesting ideas. The audience will see a an upgraded Ravi in this film.
Is it a conscious choice to work on a quirky, light-hearted film like Comali after the hard-hitting Adanga Maru?
I lost faith in such formulaic ideas long ago. I now just want to keep myself motivated as an actor and stay away from being ordinary. Whenever I have experimented, the audience has encouraged me. I don’t want to be bored on the sets; I don’t want my audience bored in the theatre.
Does your image as a socially-conscious actor hinder you from playing roles with grey shades?
I don’t think so. I am confident enough to pull off any kind of character. Also, there is a difference between portrayal and glorification. A script should demand that a character act in a certain way. For instance, in Adanga Maru, I played a mean character. The script needed him to commit cold-blooded murders. The audience didn’t find it objectionable though, as there was a valid backstory.
Comali’s director Pradeep Ranganathan is a debutant, and you have worked with quite a few in your career.
Passion towards filmmaking is the first and foremost trait I look for in a filmmaker. Technological advancements have simplified the process of learning filmmaking. Anyone can get to know the basics within months, these days. Youngsters are shooting, editing, colour-correcting and uploading short films with just their phones. Lack of experience isn’t a deal-breaker for me at all. Also, directors must be allowed a year or so to travel with their script.
You had previously told us that you are writing a couple of scripts yourself.
Yes, and I have completed scripts with me right now. The first one is a light-hearted comedy, and Yogi Babu and I will play the leads. The other two will be an expression of my rage on terrorism and discrimination based on caste and religion. I will play the lead in the second film, and I want the other one to reach a national level, so I want to make it with a top actor in Hindi. I don’t know when these will happen.
Dialogues spoken by you in films like Santhosh Subramaniam, Peranmai and Thani Oruvan have become part of everyday conversations. What’s the secret?
I make sure to completely understand the motives of my character. For instance, when shooting for Peranmai, I was too young to understand the depth of the character and his dialogues. I refused to shoot for the film till the director Jananathan explained everything to me. When I shoot for a scene, I ensure I have done my homework. That way, my eyes speak the truth.
Thani Oruvan 2 is one of the most anticipated films of the decade. When can we expect the film to go on floors?
Thani Oruvan 2 has been delayed a bit because of my commitments with other projects. Anna (Mohan Raja) is so kind and he is waiting patiently for me. Ellaa velaiyium mudichitu va da, namba pannalaam nu solli irukaru. The film will go on floors next year and will feature a top non-Tamil actor as the villain.
Many successful films have had disappointing sequels in recent times. Why do you think that is?
A good film cannot have a bad sequel unless the team lacks the motivation and effort, and takes the audience for granted. Be it the Rocky franchise, or our own Baahubali, good sequels always raise the bar set by the previous film. Before launching a sequel, the team should be willing to put in twice as much effort.