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Jayam Ravi is ‘Ponni’s Selvan’ in that epic historical film directed by Mani Ratnam! The hero who spread the Chola empire across the seas. When asked about playing that deep character full of pressure and responsibility, Jayam Ravi says, “It’s a blessing that they chose me to act in it.”
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First, I was happy when Mani sir said that we will make a film together. I felt even more happy when I was told that the film ‘Ponni’s Selvan,’ ‘You are the character’. It is a proud thing to know that I am in this story that has been read by many readers.
How did you prepare yourself for this character?
Mani sir, he said that he wants to finalize the length of this film 6 months before it starts. He asked me to ride a horse. He said that from now on, you should be Rajaraja Chola at home as well. Because, he made me understand that this character will not come in one day. I felt that too. He also told me a lot about who and what he was like. I think that’s why I could bear that character.
Is there a difference between reading a novel and a film?
Definitely will be. For example, one scene can be read in ten pages of a novel. But, the cinematography will be completed in one paper. There will be a lot of changes between reading the novel and reading Ponni’s Selvanoda screenplay and my acting.
How is the experience of acting in historical films?
Armored suits and accessories are all heavy. And then that sword. It takes a lot of strength to lift it. It is very difficult to go and fight with that horse. I was on a special diet for 2 years for that physique. The first schedule took place in Thailand. One and a half months of shooting. There are always 150 horses, four elephants and 35 caravans at the spot. In one scene, I have to go to the elephant’s ear and say something. Sir Mani asked, ‘What are you going to say?’ I said, ‘I will tell you something, sir.’ No, he said, ‘Tell me to finish this film soon’. There are many interesting experiences like this. We all wake up at 3 in the morning. Let’s put on makeup and get ready before the sun rises. As everyone was correct in this way, two parts were completed in 150 days.
What was it like acting in Mani Ratnam’s direction?
Even the best actors would have done it differently when he acted in the film. I wanted to know the secret of how. When all the actors are reading the script together, ‘Keep the basic emotion in your mind. Don’t put pressure on the word, it is enough to make you understand’ said Manisar. That’s when I learned how to act by mixing body language and speech delivery in one scene. That was a big lesson for me. Everyone says they want to be their character. I looked down at a scene and spoke. He said, ‘You are a king, why do you look down?’ There are many similar things and experiences of this film.