The actress opens up about her role and the experiences working in the movie which is set to premiere on Amazon Prime Video this Thursday
Era Saravanan's Udanpirappe, starring Jyotika and Sasikumar in lead roles, is all set for a premiere on Amazon Prime Video, on October 14. Billed as a family drama, the film which is set against the backdrop of Pudukottai, has an ensemble cast, including Samuthirakani, Soori, Aadukalam Naren, Kalaiyarasan and Silja Rose among others playing key roles.
In a chat with us, Jyotika expresses happiness on having had an opportunity to essay a role she has never taken up before in the movie which happens to be her 50th film. She opens up on what made her sign the project, which is co-produced by her along with Suriya, working with the crew, the criteria with which she chooses scripts, her journey over the years...
The trailer of the movie reminds us of the slew of family movies we had in the 90s. What exactly attracted you when the story was narrated to you?
To begin with, the movie narrates the tale of down-to-earth people in a village. This is the first time I'm playing a character which can be termed as 'daughter of the soil'. It is not often we get to essay such powerful and deep-rooted characters. Moreover, the film's central theme revolves around brother-sister relationship; powerful dialogues will be one of the highlights of the film. These are the reasons which attracted me and made me say yes to the project.
You play a village woman, a first-of-its-kind role for you. What were the preparations like?
For every film, I take a couple of months to prepare for my role and to get used to my dialogues. When I know that I have to hold a film on my shoulders, I learn the dialogues by heart. But in Udanpirappe, the power of silence is attached to my character, and hence, I don't have much dialogue.
The major chunk of my preparations involved observing mannerisms and body language of my relatives, especially that of my mother-in-law. I have been with my in-laws for the last 15 years and I think it has helped me get into my character easily. My in-laws hail from a village near Coimbatore and it was interesting to pick many details from the ladies I know in the family.
With more than two decades of experience, what is that you look forward to in a script at this point of your career?
The screenplay matters the most to me. I also look out for extremely dignified women characters in a script. I will be happy if there are good messages in a film; I believe that there should be something to take back when you go back to home. Female audience should be able to connect with the roles I'm playing. I feel it is seldom that women are portrayed as what they actually are in real life. In Tamil Nadu, most of the women I have come across are home-bound, which is contrasting to their depiction on screen in most of the movies.
Going by the trailer, you didn't seem to have dubbed for your role.
That's true. I couldn't dub because of a few reasons. The film was shot before the lockdown and the editing process began after the pandemic hit us hard. I haven't been shooting for the last two years, and considering the safety of our children, I didn't step out much for work-related commitments. Suriya was busy with his projects, and we felt one of us should be at home. Moreover, the role I play speaks a dialect which is so rooted. So, we decided to choose another person to dub for my character, considering these reasons.
Is there something new which you have learnt while essaying the role in Udanpirappe?
I think it is the power of silence. In most of the films which had me playing the lead, my character happens to be the most talkative. Secondly, at a time when everyone is in a rat race to look younger on screen, I could experience the joy of playing a character which is slightly older than my off-screen age. I am elated that my role in the film is one of the most dignified ones I have ever played.
How was it to work with the other actors in the movie. Some of them are quite experienced and multi-faceted...
Most of the artists in the film hail from villages and it helped them to easily pull off their respective roles. Working with Sasi was a wonderful experience. He is also a director, so he had an upper hand while performing in some scenes. I'm a big fan of Samuthirakani as well. Everyone helped me shape my character well. The director came up with a powerful role for me and the portrayal of beautiful relationships is going to be the USP of the film.
Tamil cinema has witnessed some iconic and super hit movies based on brother-sister relationships. How is Udanpirappe going to be different?
It's true that many films have been made on brother-sister bonding. But I think it's been a while now since a film has been made on the beautiful relationship. It has got everything to keep the family audience hooked. I believe the story throws light on several family values which will be enjoyed by the target audience.
You are also a producer of the project. What are the liberties you enjoy while you act in a film which you also produce?
Well, the advantage is, I have more liberty with regard to choosing scripts. I have more control on time. I mean I can pack my schedule at 6 pm and go home if I feel like doing so. It offers us more flexibility in terms of making decisions related to the projects.
How has your approach towards acting changed over the years?
I think, like most of the actors, the change has happened to me as well. Sometimes, it depends on the characters we choose. The approaches while playing a teacher in Raatchasi, or a house wife or the role of Mathangi in Udanpirappe, differ depending on the requirements. In this film, what I loved doing was emoting even while I stayed silent in a few scenes.
With many female-centric movies releasing in different languages now, do you think this is the best time for actresses?
I think any time is a good time for actresses. But it's true that only a few get the opportunity to begin their career at 17 or 18 and then stay relevant in the industry in their 40s and 50s.
Your last film, Ponmagal Vandhal which premiered on Amazon Prime Video, was the first OTT release in Tamil after the lockdown came into effect last year. How do you look at the surge in popularity of streaming platforms in recent times?
It's beautiful in every way. In my career spanning 20 years and 50 films, this is the first time a film of mine is releasing during a festival. The auspicious occasion of Dussehra is associated with Goddesses and what more can I ask for. Usually, the festive seasons are slotted for male-centered movies. I'm glad that I got an opportunity to entertain the family audience on a festival date.