`There's scope for meaningful movies'
Mint fresh looks, flawless frame and a smile that never seems to dim. That's Gopika for you. After a short stint in modelling in Kerala, celluloid beckoned her. Despite four Malayalam films (including a hugely successful one with Mamootty), two Tamil films ("Autograph" and "Kanaa Kandein") and a few more in the pipeline, she is untouched by her newfound popularity and chats like an excited college fresher. In contrast, her Take Two partner and co-star for "Ponniyan Selvan", Ravi Krishna appears shy. He is no pin-up hero with starry mannerisms. But the unassuming son of veteran producer A. M. Rathnam, who made his acting debut in "7/G Rainbow Colony," is serious about cinema. In no hurry to prove himself, he says matter-of-factly, "I can always move behind the camera if I can't make it big before it." Sitting in the green room of Prasad Studios, the young stars hit it off well as they laugh, bully each other and pose for the camera. Chitra Swaminathan captures the mood.
Ravi: The past three months that we've been shooting together have been like one long picnic.
Gopika: Oh, it was like going on a fun trip. Playing pranks, laughing at one another, those endless fights (with a mischievous twinkle in her eyes)... . I really had a blast. I realise at the end of it (it is the last day of shooting) how important it is to make work a pleasure. You are able to give your best despite a gruelling schedule.
Ravi: I think the best time you had was watching me struggle with the dance choreographer to get my steps right. (She giggles). I cannot dance for nuts. I hate discotheques because of the loud music and noisy crowd. But the worst part for an actor today is you need to shake a leg to create a stir at the box-office. Lucky you, you seem to be so comfortable doing those jhatkas and matkas. Anyway, you are a trained classical dancer.
Gopika: Don't be so mean. Can you not praise me wholeheartedly? What training are you talking about? I learnt Bharatanatyam for just three years.
Ravi: Enough to pick up the movements and expressions. Okay, I cannot risk stretching the argument further because you might start crying again.
Gopika: I think you will keep reminding me of that one incident forever.
Ravi: Were you really hurt that day?
Gopika: If you think I was just putting up an act then you are indirectly paying me another compliment that I am a good actress too.
Ravi: I thought I didn't slap you hard (the climax scene in the film where Ravi has to slap Gopika). I was taken aback when you fell on the ground and started weeping.
Gopika: I think you made the most of the opportunity.
Ravi: You had better be thankful that I didn't, otherwise you would have still been walking around with a swollen face. (The banter continues).
Gopika: Reserve your energy for bashing up villains.
Ravi: Actually I enjoy doing dishum dishum roles. I have learnt martial arts. But I am also a sensitive person, who can breakdown even over trivial things. It's because of all the pampering at home.
Gopika: With your father in the movie business, your entry into the field must have been a foregone conclusion.
Ravi: In a way, yes. But I did not dream of becoming an actor. Selvaraghavan, director of "7/G Rainbow Colony" (produced by A. M. Rathnam) saw me in my dad's office and felt he had found a hero for the film. Though my dad was apprehensive, Selva was persistent and did a photo shoot with me. The next thing, I was doing the film. Though it took me long to get over my nervousness, the short course in acting I had taken in the U.K. did help. I was thrilled with the response to the film. Sadly "Sukran" (his second film) failed at the box-office. Hope my forthcoming releases don't meet with the same fate. Despite coming from a non-filmi background, I think you had it easy.
Gopika: Quite right, my modelling assignments led me to films, which I prefer any day to the ramp. I am not fiercely ambitious. If some day I feel the audience doesn't want to see me, I will simply pack my bags and settle for marriage and motherhood (hoots of laughter follows).
No getting hassled by competition or worrying over the short shelf life of actors or fretting over box office ratings. All these are not for me please. I would rather catch up on sleep, spend time watching TV or chat with my sister and parents. Then I have got to study, I am doing my final year B.A. (Sociology).
Ravi: Anyway where's the question of feeling insecure when there's enough room for people here and the scope to do meaningful movies. Tamil cinema is going through a good phase what with non-masala and non-formula films making a mark at the box-office. So why waste time on trivia? I spend a lot of time playing video games, watching movies and hanging out with school friends. One role I want to badly do is that of a school student. In another five years I will be too old to do it.
Gopika: I never had many friends. So I really don't miss school and college much.The same applies to films too. Once the shooting is over, I say bye, bye and leave. (waves out to Ravi)
PHOTO: V. GANESAN
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