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Gouri Kishan: Vijay sir is one of the most empathetic people I have met- Cinema express

Gouri Kishan: Vijay sir is one of the most empathetic people I have met

Gouri Kishan speaks about working with Vijay in Master, her experience while shooting for Mari Selvaraj's Karnan alongside Dhanush, and more

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Published: 25th January 2021

Gouri Kishan is elated about the progression of her career, and she has every reason to be. The actor, who rose to fame after 96, stars as Savita in Lokesh Kanagaraj’s Vijay-Vijay Sethupathi-starrer Master. Moreover, she has just wrapped up the shoot of Mari Selvaraj's Karnan, starring Dhanush. In this interview, we talk to her about both these films and more.

Excerpts from the conversation:

The Master Pongal celebrations are still going on. How do you feel right now?

Yes, the celebrations are still on and the film is doing well at the box office. I’m delighted to have been a part of such a big film. Acting with Vijay sir under Lokesh Kanagaraj’s direction was a dream come true!

What about this character, Savitha, attracted you?

Savitha has her own travel in the film. But, more than my character, it was the script that drew me. It is so strong. Topics like the lives of juveniles in observation homes are so real and yet so little spoken about. When such a classy filmmaker brings together two big stars for a story that bears so much importance in society, it wasn’t a hard decision to say yes.

Just like the Kaathalae Kaathalae scene in 96 was a standout for you, in Master, you have the bracelet scene. How did you feel when the scene was narrated to you, and how was your experience shooting it?

When the scene was narrated to me, I realised that Vijay sir’s attention would be on me in that scene. That made me very nervous. But before the scene, Vijay sir said, “Gouri, this is your scene.” That one line reminded me that I had to give it my best shot and gave me courage. It was still one of the hardest scenes to pull off.

What are your takeaways from working with Vijay?

When you are on set, your co-actors should be empathetic. Only then can we perform well. Vijay sir is one of the most empathetic people I have met. Even when he didn’t have a scene, he would stay and give me prompts, and that’s only because he wanted me to perform well. He’s an example that no matter how high we reach, it’s important to stay grounded. These small things are what really make one human.

Whether it is how you choose your scripts, or how you approach acting, do you look at your fellow actors and learn from the mistakes they make?

I am at a place in my life where I am ready to make mistakes. But one thing I want to avoid is getting stuck in a rut and getting stereotyped. I'm still learning. Cinema is going well for me, but unfortunately, this industry is not so forgiving for women. So I don’t know how long I can last in the industry and feel I need something to fall back on. 

Do you think directors and writers these days are sensible and sensitive in handling women characters?

‘Women-centric films’ has just become another phrase. I feel many directors don’t know the meaning of those words. If a female character has a little importance, they immediately call the film woman-centric. I'm not saying that women should be on screen for the majority of the runtime, but whatever screen-time they do have should be indispensable. When that is not there, it is disappointing. We still have a long way to go in Indian Cinema in terms of representation of women.

Up next, you have Karnan coming up. We’d love to hear about your experience while working in that film with Mari Selvaraj and Dhanush. 

Mari Selvaraj is a complete genius, especially in terms of writing. As for Dhanush, he's my favourite actor. I’ve followed his work for a long time, and so obviously, I was star-struck. It was so evident that Mari sir had to sit me down and bring me back to reality. Dhanush sir is incredible, and with every scene, my adoration for him only kept growing. What we see on-screen is not magic out of thin air, but comes from his passion for his work. He has done an outstanding job in Karnan, and shown a different side of himself. When the movie comes out, people will understand what I mean.  

My character in Karnan is very interesting as well. It’s a complete village movie, and there were a lot of details, like the slang, the mannerisms, and so on, that Mari sir wanted me to master. So, right from the beginning, it was very challenging. I was on edge every single day. There was no scene-chart, and nobody knew what the next shot would be or whether you'd be in the next scene. Shooting for Karnan was so difficult, physically and mentally, but it also showed me that I had the endurance to handle something like this.

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