This is Jiiva and it feels so good to have you visit my official website. JiivaOnline.com shall carry the latest updates on my movies and my life!
And here’s something about me from my exclusive interview with Galatta Cinema magazine!
“When you have a producer for a dad, how can you possibly not make it as an actor? That’s what we think when another kid with a rich daddy, makes the hero-cut. But with Jiiva, that’s not so. He loves his father, and is thankful for the launch pad, but as he orbits cine skies now, he wants his own spot. He wants to shine on his own. He wants to be a star. And if you follow his story, you’ll realize that it is safe to say that Jiiva has outgrown the Super Good Films Banner and is twinkling jubilantly in celluloid space!
Take a look at his career graph and you’ll see that he’s been exploring his abilities and cine possibilities, emerging successful in some and losing miserably in some. But Jiiva is intent to take failure and success with the same enthusiasm. He’s not embarrassed to talk about the movies that flopped, just as he’s only too happy to discuss the ones that had us floored. He’s a level headed guy, and in spite of the overwhelming response to his Siva Manasula Sakthi, he’s got his feet on the ground and is ready to call the next bet, for cinema is the biggest gamble of them all - and one hit raises the stakes twice as higher!
What’s it like being a producer’s son and debuting in cinema?
My first two movies were under our own banner and both did not do well, and I was still called as RB Choudary’s son! So when Raam happened I was more thrilled and quite proud! When we discussed the script Ameer told me that I would have to work a lot, and I did. And though we did render a lot of financial support, the movie released under Ameer’s banner, and I was so happy that the movie did well. If I had succeeded under by dad’s banner, nobody would have paid attention to the work I put! I could have slogged like a dog, and at the end of the day, everyone would have just said I made it only because I had backing!
So after Raam what was your plan of action? Did it work?
There was only one plan, I had to make a name for myself. So then came Dishyum and Ee. Ee was under our banner. It was a movie that required just 6 months to make, but instead it took over a year. We had a lot of trouble in getting it out, and then finally when it did hit the screens it was along with movies like Dharmapuri and Vallavan. There was a lot of hype for Vallavan especially, Simbu being the director. Add to that the Simbu-Nayantara love story. And a whole bunch of things. So we were rather worried. But it turned out that on the day of release, the Vallavan reels did not arrive at Devi theatre and so, they ran E there instead. I was in the box seat and was so happy with the way the audience was responding to the film. But just when I stepped out, I bumped into Simbu, who was quite surprised that some other movie was being screened! It was quite an awkward situation, because I’m sure he must have heard the resounding applause from within the theatre! It was like a scene out of movie, the two of us meeting there!
The Pori debacle?
After E’s success my career should have taken a turn for the better. But I did Pori, which is my biggest flop till today! It swallowed two solid years of my life. Every time I met with the press they would always allude to Pori and how it flopped, and that just frustrated me and I wonder why I did that film. I’m sure if the director hears me saying this he’ll feel bad, but that’s how it is. I was caught up in a lot of tension surrounding the release of Ee when the Pori script came along. My dad was the one who heard the story completely. I sort of lost focus, mid way! My dad said that the Subramania Siva’s Thiruda Thirudi had done well, and so we agreed to do this one. The director and I had a lot of misunderstanding throughout the making of Pori. He kept saying Raam was too artsy and that only commercial movies worked. And in the name of commercial a whole lot of elements were included in the movie. But in the end, the movie flopped. And I learnt my lesson!
And still you decided to take a risk soon after that with Katradhu Tamil?
I had my heart in Katradhu Tamil. I worked my *** of for that movie! What effort I had put in for all my movies prior to that, I put in for Katradhu Tamil. But it did not succeed commercially, but I will call the movie a good investment. It may not have done as well as expected, but it was the reason my market value went up. As in my salary increased! If you ask me what went wrong, I’d say it was at the editing table. When I heard the story, it was mind-blowing. At the beginning the director Ram made it just the way he had explained. But then I guess, everyone telling him that his movie was great, got to his head, and there started the problem. And yet, I’d say he managed to make a good movie, but he made the mistakes mainly while editing. Then too, the movie was good, I felt. In fact I thought it would go global and win him some awards. Even though he and I did not get on well and I do not want to work with him again, I am sure for the scripts and vision he has, one day he will win critical acclaim.
With movies like Subramaniapuram and Anjaathe turning hits, do you think Katradhu Tamil, would have made a bigger bang now?
Yes, I think it would have done better now. Like I said before, I expected the movie to win an award but some problems between the director and the producer and the movie just did not make it to any awards. And my hard work went for a toss. But had it released now, it would have done better. The movie put forth a lot of ideas that were itself ahead of its time. Like the hint at the recession, by taking a dig at the overpaid software guys, and through sequences in the movie where the protagonist takes extreme measures because his poverty pushes him to do so. It’s a good movie, but sadly no one went to the theatre to watch! When it was aired on TV, everyone who saw it thought it was a good movie!
But with Thenavattu you jumped back into the game…
Soon after Katradhu Tamil, Thenavattu was supposed to release and only after that Rameswaram. But you know how it is, there was some confusion and Rameswaram came out first. That again did not do too well here. But overseas it did extremely well. I guess, people away from home, were able to relate with the refugee-theme of the movie, better than us sitting at home! So before I got slotted as an artsy actor, I did Thenvattu and the movie brought home good collections! My highest till date!
Given Thenavattu’s success will you be doing more mass movies?
I am an actor, and as much as I would like to do movies like Katradhu Tamil, it’s movies like Thenavattu with a tried and tested formula, that are relatively low risk. I was sitting coolly in London when the release of Thenavattu happened. I was sure it would do well. But that does not mean I will only do the commercial formula. I will keep it balanced. But honestly I think I’m not yet ready for movies like Katradhu Tamil. There’s a lot of physical and emotional strain that I as an actor go through for a movie like Katradhu Tamil. And then when it bombs at the box office, it all goes to waste. Now that’s I’ve done Thenavattu I have people saying ‘Poor Jiiva, he’s getting caught up with the mass movie craze’. But what people have to understand is that, for me to do an experimental movie, I should first give two hit movies. For instance I’ve signed on for Vithai and Singampuli. From the name alone you know it’s a mass movie. After that comes Kudumi! It’s set in a tribal backdrop. It’s an action movie too, but not on the usual lines!
What’s the story behind SMS’s success?
Oh! I had super cool fun making that movie! We had tonnes of fun. Lot’s of the scenes, were improvised on the set, impromptu. The director gave us a lot of creative freedom and that seems to have worked in our favour. The cast was very well assembled - we had Urvasi ma’am, Gnanasambandham, Sathyan, and Santhanam. The heroine Anuya and I had a few problems on set, but no one thought a compromise was needed, because that small friction worked for the script! There were no restrictions and the fun just kept coming. But one month prior to the release when I showed my dad the film, he saw it and was put off by my character in it - the smoking and drinking parts specifically, and he said he did not like the movie! You can imagine what a let down that was. I was so very upset, but when the movie released, I was only tto thrilled with the response. I’ve been to movies where the people from the audience will be ridiculing scenes from the movie, altering dialogues and trashing the movie. But when I watched SMS at theatres, I was overwhelmed by the claps and whistles! I think it’s because it’s a love story that anyone can relate to. And it’s a movie that will lighten up your spirits on a dull day. I’m sure Vikatan Talkies hoped that this movie would not become one of the most expensive home-theatre films, and it‘s not!
Me, myself & ii
If you Google Jeeva, the search pages churn out links to news about the death of Jeeva the cinematographer. So once at the airport when I was chatting with a French lady, she suggested the double ‘i’, saying that the change would also work wonders in my career. I’m not into numerology, but I guess the new spelling is fancy, so I accepted the change. I’m sure some people find it ridiculous too! But well it works for me! I’m not sure if it’s the numerology that has helped, because I believe it’s self confidence, ultimately. But then cinema is a field where a lot of money is involved, so loads of tension, and I don’t wanna lose my hair to it! So let’s just say the double ‘i’ is not a solution, but merely backs me on the positive mindset!
Not at all! I can’t dance like Ramesh and he can’t act like me. We know our set of assets and negative aspects, and we work based on that. When his movie does well, and mine does not or vice versa, we don’t bicker over it. Movie making is a risky business and success and failure come with the territory. I’m not trying to out do him or he me. We have to pay attention to our own individual careers first. While I’m busily trying to be better than say Ramesh, or Simbu, from nowhere, a Karthik pops up and he beats us all! His movie runs for a whopping 200 days and we were busy competing each other! So I’d say rather than worrying about who’s doing what, I’d much rather set a goal for myself, and see if I reach it on time. Competition will always be there, but beating them alone is not the goal.
Arya and Ravi are good friends. They are like me - they are not too emotionally attached to cinema. They treat it like a business. Likewise another good guy on the block is Karthik. He’s a very sweet guy, with no bad habits! Sangitha and her husband, Krish are also good friends. I keep in touch with Srikanth also, but on and off…
Cricket is probably the common factor that brought us guys together. I did not meet my cine pals at pubs and discs! We are a group of us who play for the United Stars team, that plays league matches with the ICL players. It’s a serious game, mind you. No rubber ball and stuff. Real cricket. We’ve been playing for over a year, and I guess that’s what helped me picked up 69 runs at the Star Cricket match! My first 18 runs, were rather slow, but after break, I came back, hit the first ball for a six and then my game took off! I’d have scored some more, but they called me back to the dressing room because the others had to play too!
Six pack mania…
I’m quite happy with my family pack! The thing is I love to eat. My wife cooks well and though now she has restricted my diet to healthy food, when I go out I enjoy junk food! But I do want keep fit, and yeah I must start my regular workouts. I play a lot of cricket, and I believe that’s good workout. I’m not particular about six-pack abs. I want my bod to be like say Brad Pit without the six pack! I know that alone requires loads of work, but I was able to lose close to 11 kilos for Raam. I’m sure I can do so if I have to!! SMS did not require it, but let’s see maybe I’ll try the look for Kudumi!!
Supriya - Friend, Lover, Wife
I was in the 6th standard. I was too talkative in class so to keep me quiet, I was made to sit next a girl. That girl was Supriya. We soon became good friends. It was not until she left for the US with her family did I realize that I was in love with her. Few days before she left, the chemical reactions began and when she left, I even cried! I told my mom that I thought I was in love with her. My mother said I had a career to make and that Supriya might find someone in the US. But I did not have to console myself, because soon I got a mail from Supriya and was happy to know she felt the same way as I did! We’ve known each other for 14 years and have been in love for the past 8 years.
Getting intimate on the screen…
Of course Supriya will not approve if I get too close. Had she been in cinema, she’d probably feel otherwise. A peck on the cheek is ok, but if I go and smooch a co-star, then I’d better get my pen out and ready to sign divorce papers! In a way it’s good that I’m not allowed to smooch my co-stars! The idea is yuck!
Good guy on the sets…
I’m a very frank person. What you see is what you get. I love Supriya, I am the most comfortable with her. So I have never had the need to get close with any of my co-stars. I don’t make a conscious effort to keep my distance with anybody. I’m this jolly guy with everybody. But sadly, no girl has ever proposed to me! That’s probably because I have never kept my relationship with Supriya hidden. I guess I may as well have it plastered in my head that I am committed!
Tha Actors’ Fast for the trouble in Sri Lanka…
I don’t know how big a difference it had on the Tamils in Sri Lanka. But it did have an impact on the Sri Lankan Tamils, outside the country. Many people thanked us for showing our support. And our fast put the war in hold for a day, so in that way we brought a small relief to the suffering people. But I guess, the fast as such was the film fraternity’s way of saying that we knew what was happening and that we really care.
The political plunge…
Never! I have no problem with other actors getting into politics, but I never will! My aspirations are very small! I’m just 25, I have a lot to accomplish in cinema. And then when I’m old I wanna got settle on some nice scenic island like Bali! And then if I get a chance to act, I might. But at the age of 50, I will act my age. I’m not for dying my air black and continuing youth roles!
In Tamil Cinema we are still running around with arivaal, so it’s gonna be a long while before the theme of homosexuality will seep in. And when it does, I’d probably do it for a comic sense. Something like say Abhishek Bachchan and John Abraham in Dostana! Since homosexuality is not much talked about in our society, we’ll just have to wait and see what the reactions are when it comes down south, and only based on that can we make a movie out of it , and then I’ll decided if I will act in it.
Sex in cinema…
Say it in a serious tone like Fire or Water, and you’ll have trouble. Make a joke of it and it’s ok. It will reach those who understand it, and go over the head for others. So long as it’s just in jest, sex in cinema is ok!
It's a man's world...
I completely agree that our industry is completely male dominated. But to change the scene we guys cannot take the initiative. Also we have not educated the audience by giving them a variety of films. That’s why a movie like Poo where the female plays a bigger role, does not do well. Our movies are all hero oriented and being a hero I cannot complain! I myself am not sure if I would have played Srikanth’s part in Poo. The moment an actor agrees to play second fiddle to a woman, everyone thinks he’s not getting good movies. I‘d probably do Poo after I‘ve had a couple of hits and had two big projects in hand. A big actress like Asin, given her market value could easily get a director to make a movie in which she had a powerful role. But given that our audiences are not trained well enough for such a story, nobody wants to take the risk.”
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With love and affection,