Raatchasi director Gowthamraj on working with Jyothika in his debut film: Her dedication is impeccable
Director Gowthamraj is upbeat about his debut film Raatchasi which talks about the current situation of government schools in Tamil Nadu. “The hype around private educational institutions started only in the last decade. Until then, the top achievers of Tamil Nadu mostly studied in government schools. Almost all of us would have one teacher as our role model. We remember their walking style, body language, and even the smell of their perfumes. I thought, 'What if that teacher stands up and talks about the irregularities in the educational system?' My protagonist Geetha Rani is one such role model-teacher," begins Gowthamraj.
The director says that even while penning the script, Jyothika was his choice and he didn’t even approach any other actress for the film. “I was confident that Jyothika alone could bring justice to the lead character. My friends told me that Jyothika has never worked with newcomers in her second innings, so she would only say 'no' to the script. But I approached her through her manager and met her the very next day. She patiently listened to the script and immediately gave her nod. But she also insisted I narrate the script to her husband Suriya for a second opinion," he says.
“Suriya sir gave a go-ahead to the film but also suggested a few changes. I researched a lot for the add-ons and completed the script. From the word go, Jyothika’s dedication was impeccable. Right from her makeup, costumes, and dialogue, she gave it all to the film. As government school teachers tend to look rough, Jyothika opted for a tanned makeup," mentions Gowtham. He further adds that for some small scenes, that last for a minute or so in the film, Jyothika even learned Tamil traditional martial arts Silambam.
Jyothika has dubbed for the Tamil film herself, reveals the director. He also heaps praise on Suriya who helped Jyothika with the lines and briefed her with the inner meaning and essence. “The dialogues which my writer Bharathi Thambi and I wrote for Jyothika would be tough even for someone who is born and brought up in Tamil Nadu. Being a North Indian, the lines would have been very difficult for Jyothika but she understood the meaning of every line with the help of Suriya sir."
Remembering a touching incident on the sets of the film, Gowthamraj says, “One day, Jyothika's son was not feeling well and needed his mother to be with him. But we had already scheduled the shoot of an important song on the same day. Jyothika told me to keep the issue of her son’s health a secret and asked us to prepare for the shoot. She balanced both her personal and professional life without adding too much stress. My respect for her doubled that day."
“Even some of the actors who worked on the film said that the script would be more apt for a hero. My lead character is the hero of the film, their gender doesn’t matter much to me,” says the director on why he preferred a female-centric script as his debut film.
But Gowthamraj says he waited for nearly two years for the release of Raatchasi. Talking about his experience as a debut director with the production house, he says, “Dream Warrior Pictures is undeniably the best production house for a debutant director. But I waited for nearly four months before getting the final nod from my producers. Before okaying any script, they suggest a lot of changes and they begin working on any film only based on the content. But once they kick start a project, there is no looking back. My producer Prabhu has given me the best technicians and he even sorted out many problems that occurred while filming. For example, I had creative differences with the music composer but thanks to Prabhu sir, I understood the individuality of Sean Roldan’s music, and now, the final output is super satisfactory."
For the film, Gowthamraj interacted with several school teachers and books to pen the script. “My friend and social activist Mahalakshmi who has been voicing out on the importance of improving government schools in the state was a big inspiration behind Raatchasi. I also read books like A Letter to My Teacher and Kanavu Aasriyar in Tamil. My writer Bharathi Thambi came up with a lot of inputs. Besides our earnest effort, Jyothika also interacted with teachers from various places like Thiruvallur, Pollachi, and Kanyakumari to prepare for her role,” he says.
Updated Date: Jul 06, 2019 16:55:02 IST