She captured the hearts of millions from the time she forayed into the cinema industry. After being a part of the filmdom for a decade, this bubbly actor decided to take a break and focus on her family life. Jyothika or Jo, as she is fondly called by her fans never left their minds and hearts, even during her seven-year sabbatical. The bubby actor candidly speaks about her career, life choices and her most important role till date, being a mother.
She reigned the South Indian cinema industry for many years. In a span of ten years, she had acted with all the top stars from the filmdom – Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Chiranjeevi, Nagarjuna, Ajith, Suriya, Vijay, Vikram, Madhavan – the list is endless. Her simple and sweet persona on and off-screen has given a fan following that would put her contemporaries to shame. After a long hiatus, the actor is making a comeback in Rosshan Andrrews’ 36 Vayadhinile, a remake of the Malayalam blockbuster How Old Are You.
Actor Jyothika is making a come back to cinema after a seven-year sabbatical. “I’m really overwhelmed –my comeback has garnered a lot of attention from the media, the film industry and the audiences. I was anxious to face the camera in the beginning after the long break, but the team helped me a lot and made me feel very comfortable.” For her reappearance in the industry, the actor had received many offers, but she had turned them down. “I have been receiving offers now and then for my re-entry into cinema. However, things did not come together like the way it has now. In those cases, either the script would not be appealing, or I would not be comfortable with the team; but somehow with Rosshan Andrrews’ 36 Vayadhinile, everything fell into place and the best part was it was our home production (2D Entertainment), so I could have my way with the shoot timings.”
Talking about the kind of roles prevalent in Tamil cinema industry, Jyothika says, “Finding scripts that are women-centric is a rarity in Tamil cinema; it is not non-existent, but just uncommon. Other industries have evolved, but Tamil cinema is still making its way there.” Heroines are only present in the film for the glam factor, adding no real value to the script. It is unfair to blame it on the audience and say that this is the kind of movies they want to see.” After thinking for a moment, the actor says, “Sometimes the heroines are also to be blamed. Some of them are more concerned on their looks and go in for artificial ways to correct some flaws. It is ok to have flaws, normal human beings do have them. What is important is how much you get into your character. I have seen instances when it’s a death scene and the artist is there in full, heavy make-up. These things take away the authenticity from the role. It’s not always about looking good only.Equal or more effort should go into portraying a role well.”
Though Jo had decided to take a break from cinema post her wedding, there was constant pressure and speculation about her comeback. “Most people were under the misconception that Suriya and his family did not want me to work post our wedding – that was not true. It was a conscious decision not act post my marriage as I had wanted to focus on my family life. Though I had made my intentions very clear to the media, Suriya was always being asked about my return to movies. Whenever one of my films is played on television, someone or the other would message Suriya saying, ‘Jo’s film is playing on TV. She has done a fabulous job, why don’t you let her act?’ Immediately Suriya would forward that message to me! He had faced a lot of heat from friends and fans, that too on my account.”
While this versatile actor is making her comeback at the age of 36, she forayed into the realm of cinema at the young age of 17. Reminiscing on her early days Jo says, “I was born and brought up in Mumbai. My father is a Punjabi and my mom is a Maharashtrian Muslim. I have two sisters – Nagma and Radhika (screen name – Roshini) and a brother. My mother has always been a huge inspiration for me. She had always taught me to work hard and make something of myself and resented it when my siblings and I sat idle and whiled away time – she encouraged us to take up part-time jobs to earn some pocket change and that is how I started modelling while I was still studying. It was during that time that director Priyadarshan approached me to act in his Hindi film, Doli Saja Ke Rakhna; sadly the movie did not do well at the box office. But since we were shooting for that film in ChennaiI was approached by SJ Suryaah to do a cameo in his Tamil thriller Vaali.” Since then there was no looking back for tis charming actress. “The same year, I got the opportunity to work in Poovellam Kettupparwith Suriya. In fact, my initial films were with him – he was very reserved, but we got along well right from the beginning.”
A hands-on mother, Jyothika makes sure that everything in her house is timely and perfect for her children;she says, “I cannot cook at all and I never ever attempt to make anything myself; of course I have tried a bit in my teenage days, but the end results haven’t been that great. However, I ensure that every member of my family have wholesome and nutritious meals, everyday.” Didn’t she get influenced to try her hand in the kitchen post marriage at Suriya’s place? “Luckily, at Suriya’s place too they have enough cooks to take care of all the food requirements, so I really lucked out there,” she smiles.
Within a few minutes of our conversation with Jo, it is very evident that all her daily activities are centered around her children.“Raising two children is a daunting task – they trust you and look up to you for all their needs – Diya is seven years old and Dev is five. From planning their meals, to sending them to school to setting up play-dates, I do everything. I am by their side at all times, playing games with them or narrating stories. I love spending time with them and so does Suriya. Whenever he is not working, the four of us spend time together – mostly we’re at home!” And what does she do when her children are at school? “I get to have some “me” time! I religiously workout and spend some time with my friends – all of us get together for a cup of coffee; every week, we ensure that we catch a movie.” As an after-thought she adds, “In fact it was my friends who encouraged and pushed me to act in 36 Vayadhinile. I was very reluctant at the beginning to leave my children alone; my friends and family took turns to come home and spend time with my children – ensure that they did their homework, had their meals on time and played outdoors! They always gave me timely updates on my children and reassured me at every stage about getting back to acting.”
Being the children of two prominent actors of Tamil cinema, do Diya and Dev watch any of Suriya of Jo’s films? “Not at all, they are way too young. May be a few years down the line, they’ll start watching feature films, but right now, they are into cartoons and kid’s channels.” Do their friends question them about the films that Suriya and Jo have acted in? “Almost every day! But more of Suriya’s films as their friends do not know me as an actress. But they have recently heard of Chandramukhi and they are keen to watch it to see me as a ‘Ghost’,” she smiles and concludes.
Food that you can’t do without: I love butter chicken masala and parathas. I would love to eat it whenever I get the chance.
Favourite cuisine: I love anything spicy. Indian and Thai are amongst my favourite. I don’t mind continental from time to time.
Are you a dessert person? Of course yes! I love anything chocolatey. So I gorge on all Chocolate based desserts. Dev is like me too. Both of us are big time chocolate freaks.
You’re most comfortable in? Fashion for me is “comfort” and I am most comfortable in a jeans and a t-shirt or top.
You detest: Heavy make-up and over-the-top dressing. Keep things simple and enhance your natural beauty.