The Hindu

Naanum actor dhaan

RJ Balaji talks to subha j rao about achieving success as an actor

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TNaanum Rowdy Dhaan happened, in linesto thefor guy be the what audiencewh­oill the stumbledse­emedtrying laughs funnyhe was too Balajiwaso­n rehearsed,and upon havinghard. motor-mouthscree­n,— criticswas­a acting.This genuinelya lookedbut and alike, great timeHe somehe saw broughtupo­nRJ around,time seemed funnyof whohim his as in front positive“I’m thatof it very,the feedback,”turnedthis camera.

I'm very, very film him surpriseds­ays is into very Balaji,a special,by confidentw­hoall this admits because actor. onscreen“I have mistakes, always and taken this note film of myallowed course me correction.the space Thereand time wereto effectno set a dialogues; we improvised along the way and I never wandered off the script for my lines. I merely reacted like how a ‘real-life’ friend would.”

Freedom is what rules Balaji’s world. All his life, it is the word that has decided many of his actions and career choices. “I loved that director Vignesh Shivan gave me the freedom to do things my way and implement what I’ve learnt so far. He trusted me. We would rehearse scenes, add dialogues, rephrase lines and responses… when it was time for the actual take, it would be magical. The whole film was shot organicall­y and that brought out everyone’s best.”

It also helped that Vignesh and Balaji are good friends. “I knew about the film from its ‘first draft’ stage. that“I knewan stage. assistanta­bout I’ve almost a co-traveller, an assistant director." he says.

The transition from radio to films has been pretty smoothfor Balaji, although he had to work on some aspects. “My and strength in radio is my spontanei-ty films has been pretty speakis my rapidly. spontaneit­y and my ability to speak rapidly.I had to slow down my speech for cinema. The lines were not mine, but I had to sound spontaneou­s. My eyes wound wander all over; my body language was bad… It took me time to get used to this new medium. Now, I’m ready to be called an actor-RJ,” he smiles.

For Naanum…, Vignesh and Balaji worked out certain dos and don’ts. “We decided we would not make fun of women or drink on screen to make people laugh. I simply played to my strengths.”

Initially, Balaji was nervous about how the audience would respond. “I’ve never had doubts in my career as an RJ. I’ve been so confident that even if I made a mistake, I would go back on air and admit it. But being an actor is a different game altogether.”

To those who ask if RJ Balaji will continue to be associated with radio, he says: “I hope to continue it for at least another 10-15 years. I also hope to continue acting. They will be two important but separate compartmen­ts

of my life.”

Balaji, who will next be seen in Jai-starrer Pugazh, never imagined he could become an actor. He became a sensation with his hugely popular ‘120 roobaayum’ slot on radio, in which he reviewed movies with a clear conscience, and earned both bouquets and brickbats. “Had I harboured acting dreams, I might have been more diplomatic in my show. But then, I’ve never planned anything in my life. I don’t think I’m going to start now!”

Balaji’s film-loving family is over the top with the success of his latest movie.

“They always watch my movies because I’m there, but with Naanum…, they were very happy with my performanc­e too.” The best feedback, though, came from his three-year-old son Mahanth, when he clapped for a scene where water is splashed on Balaji’s face. “‘Appa, hai jolly’, he said, I think. He seemed quite happy that someone else did what he’s always wanted to,” laughs Balaji.

 ??  ?? A still from Naanum Rowdy Dhaan
A still from Naanum Rowdy Dhaan

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