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Effervescent as ever

Jyothika represents the last of the superstar heroine — someone who has delivered the hits and captured the audience imagination. An interview with the vivacious actress.

SURVIVAL AS a heroine in Tamil film world has never been easy. In today's scenario anybody can be an actress, but it is survival that counts. And Jyothika represents the last of the superstar heroine- someone who has delivered the hits and captured the audience imagination. She is a fighter, indefatigable in spirit and mind. She has immense screen presence and the girl-next-door image. "Jo" as she is called, is not only talented but also a total professional, a fact that most of her producers and directors agree. Four years after migrating from Mumbai after doing an insignificant Hindi film "Doli Sajaake Rakhna", she came and did a guest role with the Tamil screen heartthrob Ajit in "Vaale" which became a hit. This was followed by a string of hits like "Kushi", "Snehithiye" and "Tenali" which established her as a top heroine. The audience loved her bubbly effervescent acting style. And the character she portrayed on screen was mischievous and talkative type all bubble and fizz, which only improved her box-office standing. Her biggest advantage according to a trade analyst is that she has a good following among the youth and ladies find her presence comfortable. Taking time off her busy schedule Jo speaks:

Some of your recent films have not done too well. What's happening?

I think too many films came one after another around the same time. Things went a little haywire, as I had no control over the release schedules. Added to that there was no variety in some of these roles.

There were stories that you were migrating to Kannada?

I don't know who started these rumours. I did one Kannada film "Nagarahavu", which was a remake of Shahrukh Khan's "Baazigar". In the film I did a dual role opposite Upendra the superstar of Kannada. The film took about 100 days to be completed during which period I was unable to do any Tamil films. Probably this must have lent credence to these rumours. After that film I have not done any Kannada films, as my hands are full in Tamil.

Now you are trying to reinvent yourself?

I have been in the industry for nearly three years and I believe that I am here because of the goodwill and support of my fans. And producers sign me up even today, as I am a professional to the core. If one has to remain at the top, then you have to constantly reinvent yourself and do challenging roles.

So you owe it all to Tamil audience who have made you a big star?

Yes, I owe everything to them. Can you imagine a Punjabi girl like me being accepted by the masses in Tamilnadu?

You have been paired opposite younger lot of heroes like Vijay and Ajit. Has it worked to your advantage?

I have done four films with Ajit and the blockbuster "Kushi" with Vijay. But I have no inhibitions and I am ready to work with anybody. I even did "12B" with Shaam who was a newcomer at that time.

What are your priorities while you choose a film?

I am energised by unconventional and challenging roles like the one I am playing in "Dhool" with Vikram. I spent hours discussing my costumes, worked hard on my expressions and looks and delving into the mind of the characters that I play. I want to play different characters so that the audience would not only appreciate me but the character should be etched in their mind.

But in a male dominated industry, how can you dictate terms?

I agree that our industry is male dominated. But there is a lot of women power in Tamil films and in films like "Dumm Dumm Dumm", "Kushi" and "Poovellam Un Vaasam", my characters had equal importance as the hero. I feel that story and narration is important. A film like "Snehithiye" was a hit, where I was the central character and the film had no hero. So ultimately the conclusion is that story and presentation are the most important.

A bevy of new girls like Kiran, Trisha and Meera Jasmine are giving you competition. Please comment .

This is all the creation of the media, as we are very good friends. Recently all of us had a blast in Malaysia during the Nadigar Sangam show. Infact we even SMS each other and try to keep in touch as far as possible. Healthy competition always brings out the best in anybody.

The industry feels that you were far too expensive and that is the reason why you lost out to younger breed of heroines...

It is a myth that I was expensive and all the talk that I charge Rs 50 lakhs and more are all figments of imaginations. How can I do like that at a time when the industry is on a recession? I have never charged a price that the producer can't afford.

What about the rumours that you are getting married to actor Surya?

Actually I am fed up of denying these rumours. Ever since I did my first film "Poovellam Kettuppar" with Surya, the media has linked me with him. We are just good friends.

Will you be around for some more time as an actress?

I am doing four films in Tamil: "Dhool", "Kakai Kakai", "Three Roses" and AVM's next film where I play Madhavan's wife. I am trying my hand in Malayalam by doing a film directed by award wining director Rajeev Kumar with Jayaram.

SREEDHAR PILLAI

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