Saturday, March 12, 2011

‘It just happened to me’

Bangalore girl and theatre artiste Jahnavi Kamath stumbled into films quite just-by-chance, but she’s now convinced that she’s here to stay…

L Romal M Singh

She has always been noticed for her beautiful eyes and ever since she was first seen on stage in college, experts in the field knew this young pretty thing would make it big. Jahnavi Kamath has come a long way from being a theatre artiste to an actress with a film each in Kannada and Tamil and several more projects being lined up...

When did you know you wanted to be an actor?
I have always wanted to be in entertainment, it’s just that over the years my interests have changed from being a VJ, to dancing, to being a part of theatre troupes and then acting just happened. I was in college when I performed for the first time in a huge production that involved more than a hundred actors. I was however given a prominent role and also was cast in the successive performance that was staged the very next year. It was then I knew I loved theatre and decided to be an actor.

So how did you decide to take on acting as a career?
I enrolled in an acting school in Mumbai right after I graduated with a Bachelors degree in Journalism from Bangalore. The course was amazing. It taught me to understand the smallest and most important nuances of acting. I was also readied for the camera and I am thankful for that.

Did the offers start pouring in straightaway?
Not really. I returned to Bangalore and began working with several theatre groups, before my first offer came. It was a Kannada film called Chitrana?. The film is complete but is the release is delayed for reasons unknown to me. The role as the female protagonist was amazing, especially since this was my first.

And then Kollywood?
Surprisingly so! Someone from the crew of Chitrana? referred me to the producer of the Tamil film. This being Ramesh’s debut as a director and my debut (technically) in a Tamil film, it all seemed to work out fine. The lead male actor Dileep also debuts in this film.

Tell us more about the film…
The film has been titled Puthiya Kaaviyam and the shooting was mostly around Mettur in Salem and Chennai. Being a rural themed film, I play a village girl who’s extremely happy with life and college-going. I am the romantic angle to the film, as I am the love interest in Dileep’s characters’ life. The film revolves around him and how he saves his village. I guess that’s all I can reveal right now. The film should be out in May.

City girl to village belle, wasn’t that hard?
Not really. I grew up in Bangalore, yes, but I also lived and holidayed in Mangalore for a long time. My father owns a farmhouse there, that’s quite within the environs of a village, so village life is no new thing to me. Also, I’ve never really been a proper city girl.

Any more offers?
Yes, I have one more film that I have accepted in Tamil again, this time with a debut director called Balan. This film will be opposite Dileep again, and will be a rural themed film, where I play the role of a more independent and assertive woman.

So, will it be just films and more films now?
Definitely not! I will take on more plays whenever I find something interesting, because, let’s face it… real acting is only on stage! I will also continue to model when assignments come my way. I love films but it’s never going to be my only passion.

‘I was born to dance’

He’s beautiful in body, mind and soul and this description is something that anyone who knows him will readily agree with. Charles Ma has come a long way from being a college dance-team choreographer to a full-fledged student and performer of the art of Bharatanatyam, and in less than two years, he has travelled through the long journey of being a teacher, a student, a questioner and a re-discoverer of an art that he holds very dearly to his heart.

“Life is a celebration and I’ve come to know that I celebrate it through Bharatanatyam,” Charles tells me as I catch up with him, after his year-long hiatus. “I’ve been in Chennai, re-learning an art form that I think — now looking at the past — I took for granted,” he says.

Studying a completely new style for someone so deeply rooted in the Kalakshetra baani can be quite trying, but Charles has come to love the nuances and complexities of his new obsession — the Vazhuvoor style.

“It feels great as I feel this complete transformation surging through me. Relearning an art form, with the passion for the new, much like a fresh student has helped me come to terms with a lot of insecurities and obstacles that were running me down as a performer, a year ago,” Charles shares.

“I am now a deeper person, more comfortable with me and my art and with a new strange sense of wisdom that is gained only when one offers ones self completely to an art. Everything else takes second place in a hierarchy of importance, sometimes even me — but it feels right and I am at peace, which is all that matters,” he adds.

Charles will be performing as a part of the Karnataka Nrityakala Parishath’s Natarajotsava — 2011 celebrations and so I ask him what Nataraj, as the 'Lord of the Dance' means to him, personally.

“I come from a family that’s Christian in this generation, but my grandmother was a Shaivite, and I think the love for Nataraj or Shiva comes from there. I look at him as Niraguna Parabramha, and thus I see him in everything and everywhere. It has been hard to come to terms with two often opposing faiths — but I have found my balance and that’s where my faith lies,” he signs off.

Pic Credit ©Madhu Shweta, 2009