Priyamani lauds Shah Rukh Khan for being gracious enough to let girls shine in 'Jawan'

Priyamani plays Lekshmi in 'Jawana'. Photo: Instagram | pillumani

Actor Priyamani, known for playing versatile roles in South Indian films, is basking in the success of 'Jawan'. The national award actor, in a candid chat with Onmanorama, said she was glad to be a part of the blockbuster movie as it offered female actors the space to prove they are much more than just pretty faces.

She also spoke about her friendship with Nayanthara, her comeback to Malayalam with Jeethu Joseph-starrer 'Neru' and why 'Jawan' was a different experience for her.

Interview excerpts:

How do you see the success of the Atlee directorial?

Every actor and crew member worked extremely hard for this film. I am glad it has become a blockbuster.

How was the experience working in the movie?

It was special because all of us, especially Azad's girls bonded so well. They have all become like an extended family that we keep texting each other every other day. We are planning to meet for lunch or dinner soon. But overall, I believe, we were all pumped up regarding the action sequences in the film. We were preparing for it from the day we read our scripts. Atlee was very clear about what he wanted from us and that the girls in the film would not just be pretty faces. It was nice of him to give so much space to us girls, to act and fight.

Having Shah Rukh Khan as your co-star. Of course, you shared screen space with him before for a song in 'Chennai Express'

He was great on the sets. He would ensure all of us were comfortable. Also, I think it was incredible of an actor of his stature to be gracious enough to allow the women in his films to enjoy the screen space. He had no issues with us taking up the screen space in 'Jawan'. He was happy to take the backseat and comfortable enough to let us be in the forefront. I am not sure that many actors would be okay with that, but Shah Rukh Khan was fine. Also, he was very particular that we all bonded since we had several action sequences together. He also would memorise the whole script and would be ready to help us if we forgot our lines (which we did not mostly). My husband and I always pray that Shah Rukh Khan remains blessed.

Working with Deepika and Nayanthara?

I didn't have any screen space with Deepika, but she has done a lot of justice to her character. Though me and Nayanthara are friendly with each other, we have not exchanged phone numbers. I think it is beautiful how she has moulded herself over the years. I am really happy and proud to see her growth and how nicely she has balanced both her professional and personal life.

How challenging was the shooting of those action sequences?

I won't exactly say the film was too challenging, but yeah some action scenes required work. I have done films which required me to do action, but in most South Indian movies, we are told to act realistically. Some directors are also particular that women fight like women and not like heroes. 'Jawan' offered me a different experience since I, along with the rest of the actors, were given a training session just to learn how to handle guns and do the action sequences like a professional. In Quotation Gang (QG), I play a female contract killer, but in that film, I was required to do action with only a knife. 'Jawan' was different that way.

How do you see the varied responses to 'Jawan' from the North and South audiences?

I don't think I would be the right person to answer it, but still, I believe every person has the right to their opinion. We respect that and we are grateful that people went to the theatres and shared their verdict about the film. I don't think there has been lesser acceptance of the film in the South, since many people who watched the movie in Bengaluru and other cities here, unanimously mentioned that they loved the film.

You have been missing in Malayalam for some time now. Was that a conscious decision?

I don't think any of us stay away from a particular language on purpose. I was quite busy. My last film in Malayalam was 'Ashiq Vanna Divasam' in 2017. I had signed up for two or three films post that, but it didn't take off. However, I am glad to be back in Malayalam with Jeethu Joseph's 'Neru'. I hope with this, I get to do more Malayalam films.

You sound excited to be working with Jeethu Joseph?

I am. He is a great director, especially how he convincingly told the story of 'Drishyam'. I love how he gives his actors a certain sense of freedom with their characters. At least, that's how it has been for me. I'm also glad to be returning onscreen along with Mohanlal sir. Our last film was 'Grandmaster', which hit theatres in 2012.

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