Films have the power to make us immortal: Jiiva
At the turn of 20 years in show business, Jiiva reminisces the films that helped him fine-tune his craft while also speaking about his latest film, Coffee with Kadhal
They say a lot can happen over a cup of coffee. But for Jiiva, who was recently seen in Coffee with Kadhal (CWK), some of his most treasured conversations have happened over films, particularly early ones from his filmography. The actor, who’s nearing the completion of 20 years in the industry recalls how films like Raam (2005), Aram (2006), and Kattradhu Thamizh (2007), from the early stages of his career, fetched him early appreciation from industry stalwarts.
“Even recently, I met Rajinikanth sir in a flight, and he recollected his fondness for Raam, and how he watched it thrice. I also remember Mohanlal sir registering his appreciation for the climax portions for our film, Aram.” More recently, the actor got a lot of accolades for his portrayal of veteran cricketer Krishnamachari Srikkanth in Kabir Khan’s 83. “Kapil Dev sir and Sunil Gavaskar sir lauded my work. Such appreciation makes me wants to do good films,” says the actor.
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While Jiiva admits that his performance-oriented films earned him a place in the industry, he credits his light-hearted roles, like the one in CWK, with teaching him the power of humour and the importance of onscreen camaraderie. “You have a lot of characters in light-hearted films, and the challenge is to shine among them. To make people laugh is the toughest job.” The actor also feels that unlike with serious films, it’s only through comedy that you can truly understand the pulse of the audience in theatres. “A wave of laughter will make you understand what worked out. Commercial entertainers offer a lot of space for happy expressions, and I believe they can inspire people.”
The actor, who has taken a lot of pride in working on a variety of projects—from the multi-starrer, Nanban, to a superhero film like Mugamoodi to a sports drama in 83, looks back fondly on some of his choices. “Siva Manasula Sakthi was one of the earliest romcoms in our industry, kids still talk about Mugamoodi, many elderly people liked 83, and some rebellious youngsters like Gypsy a lot. When I see cameras trained on me, like for this interview, I get reminded of Ko. I have done different genres and believe in excellence more than success.” He attributes his longevity to striking a balance with the commercial projects. “Films have the power to make us immortal. It is not about reviews or box-office results. What’s criticised today could be appreciated tomorrow. I want to showcase myself as an actor rather than a star.”
Given that the famous production house, Super Good Films, is his family banner, he has developed an understanding of film trends and success recipes. “Earlier, films ran for over 100 days, and films from other languages got an extended release window too. In fact, I remember loving Dil Chahta Hai even though I didn’t understand the language. But I’m glad that today’s technological advancements help me relive my memories of such films. This is a golden age for good content.”
Jiiva observes that over 20 years, a lot has changed in production too. From witnessing analog shooting to digital conversion, the actor hasn’t forgotten how costly it was to make films, “A wrong take would cost about `2,500 each time. Shot division was important, and perhaps that’s why I still feel uncomfortable when filmmakers aren’t sure about which shot will make it to the film.”
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As the conversation veers towards what’s next for Jiiva, he shares a wishlist. “I am looking for larger-than-life films. When I was in my late teens, I liked films like The Mummy and Matrix, which inspired me to be a graphic designer. I want to do films that have a scope for great visuals.” Calling his next with Pa Vijay one such project, he also shares that he has a thriller under SR Prabhu’s production, and a family entertainer Varalaru Mukiyam and multi-starrer Golmaal in the pipeline. For Jiiva, the show continues, and so does variety in the genres he works on.