Amazon Prime Video released the trailer of the much-awaited Tamil courtroom drama Ponmagal Vandhal, on 21st May, 2020. Produced by 2D Entertainment, the legal drama features a power-packed performance by Jyotika, who essays the role of a lawyer. With Ponmagal Vandhal, Jyotika takes the centre stage as we find her in a conversation with us, ahead of the release.
Tell us something about your next Tamil film Ponmagal Vandhal. What do you feel about this project?
My next film Ponmagal Vandhal is a thriller with a difference. You can also call it a contemporary courtroom drama. My heart is very close to the subject which has been tackled in the film by the director JJ Frederick who has also written it, besides making his debut as a director. The film has a very pertinent social message with which each and every person who watches it will be able to identify with it instantly and also connect to it. It is a film which will make every woman proud.
As an actor, you have shared the screen with five different actors who are also directors of their own right. How was the entire experience?
I have been lucky that in the film, I got an opportunity to work with five actors who are also goods directors, including K Parthiepan, Thiagarajan, Pandiarajan, Pratap Pothen and K.Bhagyaraj. It was Frederick’s vision and idea to cast five different actors who are also directors in the film. I should confess that it was a learning experience for me. I learnt how they prepared their dialogues and delivered them clearly with precision and clarity.
You play a lawyer in the film. To put it in a context, at home- are you a lawyer or a judge?
At home, I am never a lawyer because I am always a judge. If you compare me with my earlier films as an actress, you will realize that I have really come out of my shell. I am now under the blue sky. Today, if you ask me I can do any kind of role. I feel I am blessed that though I am not asking any director to give me a good role, I am being approached by many directors with subjects which are daringly different from the kind of subjects, which are being made these days.
How difficult was it to act with directors like Parthiepan and K Bhagyaraj?
It was a big challenge to deliver my dialogues in front of Parthiepan because they were lengthy and it is basically a courtroom drama but thankfully, I was prepared as I was given the script three months ago by the writer-director. It is to the credit of director Frederick that he has shot four single shots each of five minutes, You would not believe that Frederick, who is in his 20’s has not only written the subject well but also made his debut with this film so much so that in the first narration itself I was hooked on to the subject and said yes to be a part of it. The film has a lot of layers, thrills’, twists and turns along with an amazing interval point and also, a smashing climax. I was sure that he was going to give his best shot to the film when he narrated the subject to me.
You are very selective with your projects and do not accept all offers dangled in front of you. What is the reason behind this?
I cannot accept any and every role. I have a son as well as a daughter. I want characters that are not only intelligent but also dignified to the core. In Ponmagal Vandhal, I play a lawyer in the session court in Ooty. I want to play real-life characters, with which the audiences can easily identify themselves with. I will agree to do a film only if I am sure that people will talk about my role and the film even 20 years after your film is released. If you play a cop’s role, you can easily pad your scene with action but when you set out to play a lawyer, you cannot resort to action and have to deliver your lines with perfection. Considering the fact that I have never ever gone to a court till date, I should thank the director for having done all his homework with perfection.
Your film is being dropped on an OTT platform like Amazon Prime Video. What do you think about the pros and cons of this release?
I’d say, there are only pros and no cons. Especially, in the last few months after the Coronavirus scare, the number of people who are watching the OTT platform has shot up considerably. Though all said and done, I will not deny that had the situation been different, it would have been a joy as an actor to see the reaction of the audiences when your film is released in theatres. OTT release is a big celebration for actors and directors because it is a very beautiful platform, as a filmmaker will be able to reach many more- as many as 200 countries all over the world. I would say that OTT is actually an extension of films, but it is also not a permanent solution. It is the only solution for the time being when theatres are not open. If we wait to release Ponmagal Vandhal, there is a long queue. It will take at least a year for the hero oriented films to release, and the heroine oriented films will get their chance only after two years.
Why do you prefer to work in only your own home productions?
After 36 Vayadhinile, I have mostly acted in only my own home productions, because I will be in my own comfort zone when I am acting in my own films, especially since I have to strike a balance between my career and also my home and kids. Also, when you do not know how the audience is going to respond to your film, it is better to invest in your film on your own. I am extremely happy with the role I have been offered in Ponmagal Vandhal as there are several layers to my role as a lawyer but I would not like to divulge more details about my role in the film. However, I can say for fact that the message that is underlined in the film will touch everyone’s heart.
You seem to opt to act under new directors in your films of late. JJ Fredrick is also a new director, who is all set to make his debut with Ponmagal Vandhal?
I feel that working with newcomers as directors is very good, because they do not follow the typical pattern. They belong to a new genre and their working process is very different from that of mine. If I work only with the same directors, I may end up becoming stagnant as an actress. If you ask me what the criterion by which I select my films is, I’d say that I always see what the screenplay of a film offers. The character of Venba that I play in Ponmagal Vandhal is the most challenging that I have ever played in my career. It is my 49th film. Suriya loved the film when he saw it because it has such a fresh premise not yet seen in any Tamil film before. I am 100 percent sure that everyone will connect to the film in large numbers.
Why did you decide to launch your own production banner?
2D Entertainment is the banner under which Suriya and I produce films. We set out to make films because we feel that cinema is a very strong medium and a gift to us actors as well as producers to influence feel good minds. It is nice to feel socially responsible as actors. Suriya is not only a great husband but as a producer, he does not interfere at all. He came only once when we were shooting in Ooty because it was raining heavily and he just wanted to make sure that the shooting did not suffer on account of the rains.
Are you also open to act in web series in the near future?
Though my film as a producer and actor is going to be dropped on OTT platform, if you ask me whether I’d like to work in web series, I’d say that I am not sure. Nothing in my life including acting in films had been planned till today. I feel good cinema should live in. See, if I do not get good offers to act in films, who knows, I may take up acting in web series too.
Like you said, you balance your work as an actress as well as home. Which has been your best role till today?
My brain functions the best from 7 am to 12 noon every day. I feel, when my husband has constructed such a big and nice bungalow, why should I continue working. If you ask me, which is the toughest role to play, I’d say that the role of the housewife is the toughest. It is tougher than being a part of a biopic.
How keen are you on entering into the world of politics?
Like my sister Nagma, I do not want to take up politics because I am of the opinion that you can do far greater work for the masses even though you are not in politics because I think every actor has a social responsibility, and should not just depend on the government. Before setting out to clean your city, you should see to it that your house is clean. Isn’t it?
Watch Jyotika bring a new character to us all in her all-new film. Ponmagal Vandhal is a Jyotika and Suriya production, under their banner 2D Entertainment. The film is directed by JJ Fredrick. Being the first Tamil film to premiere worldwide directly on Amazon Prime Video, Ponmagal Vandhal will be available exclusively for Prime members to stream from May 29, in more than 200 countries and territories.