Unforgettable experience: Nelson Dilipkumar on working with superstars in Jailer

Jailer movie
Everyone knows that Mohanlal is an extraordinary actor, says Nelson. Photo: Instagram/Nelson Dilipkumar

Any director who has worked with Mohanlal finds it difficult to stop raving about him. From the legendary Padmarajan to Mani Ratnam, Mohanlal has been a director’s delight. The same goes for Nelson, who is in awe of our Malayalam superstar after directing him in 'Jailer'. In an interview with a YouTube channel, Nelson spoke extensively about 'Jailer', scenes he could have bettered, and some more.

Unforgettable experience with superstars
About Mohanlal: Mohanlal is a natural actor. While shooting a scene with him, suddenly he called for a cut. We were clueless. Then he asked us if that was an actual take. When I replied in the affirmative, Lal said sir he thought it was a rehearsal. We really couldn’t understand if he was acting or if he was rehearsing. That was how natural he was. All those who watched him at that moment said he was a brilliant actor. Everyone knows that he is an extraordinary actor. It was a huge experience to direct him. You just have to casually brief him. And he would deliver more than we asked for. Lal sir is a simple, sweet person. He is always happy and energetic and spreads that positivity to people around him. Lal sir has an uncanny ability to keep everyone on the sets comfortable.

About Jackie Shroff: He is an actor who will do anything you tell him. He enjoys observing the surroundings. He loves nature. Jackie sir is very straightforward and treats everyone equally. I have always felt that he was very spiritually inclined.

About Shiva Rajkumar: I have noticed that some of our biggest actors are extremely humble. You can see that in Rajni sir, Lal sir, Shiva Rajkumar sir, and Jackie sir. They make others extremely comfortable. They would do exactly what we tell them. And have no qualms about asking doubts. They want clarity about everything they are doing.

The scene he wanted to watch with the audience
The interval portion, that scene where Rajni chops a villain’s head, and climax. I wanted to watch all these scenes with the audience.

Scenes he wished he had done better
I am not someone who views films critically. I always look at it from the point of view of the audience. My only concern would be if it is entertaining them. Going by that I felt certain scenes weren’t up to the mark. That’s because most scenes are extremely entertaining. So an ordinary scene can look slightly odd in such a setting. But that won’t affect the overall enjoyment of the film. Because that scene demanded such a tempo.

Superstars with Rajini
When I wrote the scenes featuring the superstars I was confident that they would work out. We have placed them between the film and the climax. Though they come briefly, the impact was powerful. I have tried to space the camera on them as I have done with Rajini sir.

Dialogues keeping Rajini in mind
I can’t say that. I wrote those dialogues for the character. The character in 'Jailer' is calm. But he had a strong past. Since his character was powerful, I had to make sure the dialogues were also powerful. And Rajini sir elevated them on screen. The truth is that I haven’t written anything keeping Rajni sir in mind.

The cigar in the climax
We had already decided that the cigar should be there in the climax. Because that is the most crucial scene in the film. Mohanlal sir and Shiva Rajkumar sir are coming in that scene but then Rajini sir has to be the King. So we thought his most iconic cigar-holding action should be included in that scene. And I don’t think anyone can do it better than him. Rajini sir said if the script demanded such a scene we can do it. When we incorporated that scene, it fell into place perfectly.

We took a wide shot and a closeup shot of Rajini sir, lighting the cigar. He was the one who had lit the cigar and smoked it. There was no graphics involved. We thought if we mixed both shots, that might look staged, so we just used the wide shot. Rajini sir said if we toss a matchbox stick, he will try to catch it. That shot was okayed in the second take. Honestly, it was overwhelming to witness that moment in person. Though I tried my best not to be a fanboy on the sets, sometimes I couldn’t help but be in awe of him and praise his performance. And he would simply thank me!

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