Jayam Ravi: Ponniyin Selvan or Agilan, my commitment doesn’t change
Jayam Ravi opens up about playing a grey-shaded character, negotiating the rigourous schedules of Agilan, reuniting with Kalyana Krishnan, and more
Actor Jayam Ravi is in an interesting space in his career. It has been two decades since he turned actor with Jayam (2003); it can also be said as the year when the much-awaited Ponniyin Selvan sequel will come out. His, after all, was the role that was subjected to the greatest scrutiny before the release of the first film, with the actor proving detractors wrong with a charismatic performance. A month away from the release of the sequel, Jayam Ravi has another release coming up—an action drama called Agilan which marks the actor’s reunion with close associate and filmmaker Kalyana Krishnan after Bhooloham (2015).
“My journey with Kalyana Krishnan sir began when we worked in SP Jhananathan sir's Peranmai, for which he wrote the screenplay. His film, Bhooloham, fetched me a lot of recognition. And once again, he has put in time and effort into researching and working for Agilan,” Jayam Ravi mentions. Interestingly, apart from getting the chance to reunite with Kalyana Krishnan, Ravi signed this film for another more compelling reason. "It gave me the opportunity to play a grey-shaded character."
After displaying a range of emotions through different characters like a timid and frustrated son of an overbearing father in Santhosh Subramaniyam, a carefree playboy in Engeyum Kadhal, an uptight police officer in Thani Oruvan, and an amnesia patient in Comali, the actor will once again be bringing something new with the character of a port operator in Agilan. “The harbour is more than just a premise in Agilan. It is a character by itself. There are many untold stories about the harbour and Agilan is a compilation of all.”
Jayam Ravi asserts that every serious actor must look to get into the skin of a wide variety of characters. For his role in Agilan, Jayam Ravi says he rigorously woke up in the wee hours of the day, even before the ships would hit the dock. “We had to wake up at 3.30 am much before sunlight and caught many sunrises while shooting for the film (laughs). There was a particular sequence on a floating dock in the middle of the sea on which a team of 40-50 people worked while standing in the salty water for three days. The skin gets affected by this, but we all worked hard. I also had to learn how to operate a crane. It was all a new experience.” How did he handle the harsh weather conditions? “I am a Chennai person; so, it was manageable,” he says, laughing.
For Jayam Ravi, looking the part is as important as playing the part. “I believe that appearance makes up about 50 per cent of a character. My character in this film is exposed to harsh sunlight, salty water and humidity. That must show in the looks and the skin texture. On the personality front, he is a man who does not get too carried away by anything, as has seen a lot and faced a variety of emotions. It is hard to tell whether he is telling the truth or not.”
The actor shares that his film choices are influenced by a variety of factors. “My experience comes in handy; so, does the Visual Communication course I studied… There’s all my learning from fellow actors, and then, my fans as well,” he says, and goes on. “The timing of the release, ongoing trends... When I did Comali, we tried to capture the essence of the 90s, which was all the rage then. That worked in favour of the film.”
As the actor signs off, he takes one final question about the responsibility of doing titular roles. “Even with guest roles, I take up full responsibility to do my best. Be it Ponniyin Selvan then, Agilan now, and soon, Ponniyin Selvan once again, they are all equally important to me. I don’t distinguish one from the other," he signs off.