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Monday, October 6, 2008

Kollywood’s darling

As I strut into the celebrity’s home at T Nagar, the security guard is puzzled that I want to meet Jothika. “Are you sure,” he asks.
Jothika. (TOI Photo)

He cannot be blamed — reporters usually come in armed with notebooks and recorders to either meet legendary actor Sivakumar, the handsome Surya or the talented Karthi. But, I’m certain that I want to meet Jothika. It’s been almost three years since she gave her last solo interview and I’m secretly thrilled that she’s breaking her silence. “I had nothing to talk about until now,” she defends, still looking very pretty and very pleased.

Two years of marriage to Kollywood’s dream guy and a year with their bundle of joy Diya, has just added more charm to the expressive actress. So, how does she spend time now that films have taken a backseat? “I am much busier than I was,” she says, “Babysitting is a 24x7 job and requires a lot of work. Diya simply cannot sleep without me and demands attention.... I like it that way.” When the pictures of the couple with the baby was released a few weeks ago, it created quite a stir on the Internet. “Diya has started uttering many words,” she says with obvious joy, “She has started identifying animals and already has a small book collection of her own!”

Jothika has been Kollywood’s darling ever since the O Sona song (Vaali) hit the screens in 1999. She was paired with Surya in her first film—Poovelam Kettupar —and there has been no looking back for her since then . “When I was growing up, I’d never thought that one day, I would land up in films and in Chennai ,” says Jo, who hails from Bombay, “Nothing in life is planned ... and it’s better this way.”

Just a few years earlier, life would have been topsy-turvy for the Bombay lass. Working in an unfamiliar environment and a different language must have indeed been tough. “Definitely,” she smiles, recalling how directors made her memorise Tamil dialogues thoroughly.

“The industry is much better now. Earlier, we had only four five good directors and actors but these days, the fresh crop is so refreshing.”
Does she stay in touch with the current crop of movies? “Sometimes... I’ve already watched Abhiyum Naanum; it’s such a beautiful film. When Surya is in town, we manage to sneak off to catch the latest film in town. We recently watched Kung Fu Panda and Rock On.”
While wannabe couples have long watched them on screen and wished to be like them, how does Jo feel being part of a sweet love story? “Actually, we (Surya and I) never knew when we fell in love. Sometimes, when we are alone at night, we wonder how it really happened. We haven’t come up with any explanation. It just happened over the years.”

The three years from 2000 were most vital in Jo’s life. It was during that time that she worked with and became close friends with Surya. In 2003, it all fell in place and they realised that they were in love. The film was Kaakha Kakkha (KK) and it helped the actress shape herself as a person and an actor. “That film was sheer magic,” she explains, feeling the goosebumps even today, “It takes a director to break the ice on how you are portrayed on screen and that’s exactly what Gautham did.”

Her character as Maaya Anbuselvan won accolades for the mature manner in which love was portrayed. Soon, filmmakers were knocking on her door with plump roles and even Superstar and Ulaganayagan appeared interested in signing her up. With Chandramukhi,Vettaiyadu Villaiyaadu and a knock-out performance in Mozhi, she certainly was going places on the work front. Meanwhile, KK was also the film when she got close to Surya. “He (Surya) was always there for me and I found that quality very attractive. I believe that the most beautiful feeling in life is to fall in love. It makes you grow, it makes you responsible. If you haven’t been in love, you just haven’t lived.”

Though she received many offers after Mozhi, she hasn’t taken anything till date as she’s busy with personal issues. “If there’s a subject that’s offered to me and I think it’s a step higher than Mozhi, only then will I do it. I do not want to make a comeback just for the heck of it,” she stresses, “And yeah, I’m interested in negative roles, like the one I played in Pachaikili Muthucharam.”

Small screen is a strict no-no for the actress primarily due to lengthy dialogues. “It involves a lot of hardwork,” she laughs, “I sometimes wonder how they manage to deliver so many dialogues in one shot. I can never get myself to do that. I admire Kushboo for how beautifully she has taken to the small screen.”

And, what’s her take on the recent six-pack craze with Surya flaunting it in Vaaranam Aayiram? “The six pack made me angry,” she states, “I look at him more as a husband. After a point, I got irritated by the kind of dedication he was showing. But yes, the character demanded it and I’m proud that he worked so hard.”

While his work will be the talk of the town in the next few years, Jo’s contribution to the film industry will always be remembered as extremely pleasant and pretty.

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