‘All characters had author-backed roles’

Women are getting their due in films, believes ‘Jawan’ actor Priyamani, who boarded the action thriller as she got a chance to play a powerful character in the film

‘All characters had author-backed roles’

Women are getting their due in films, believes ‘Jawan’ actor Priyamani, who said she boarded the action thriller as she got a chance to play a powerful character in the Shah Rukh Khan-headlined film. In ‘Jawan’, directed by Atlee, Priyamani portrays the role of Lakshmi, one of the six women who helped Shah Rukh’s character in his fight against the system. Her tragic backstory is gradually revealed through flashbacks.

Billed as ‘a high-octane action thriller that outlines the emotional journey of a man who is set to rectify the wrongs in the society’, the film recently grossed Rs 574.89 crore worldwide in box office collections since its release on September 7.

Priyamani, 39, said when Atlee narrated the story of ‘Jawan’ to her, she resonated with all the principal characters, including Kalki (Lehar Khan) Dr Eerum (Sanya Malhotra) and Vikram Rathore, one of Shah Rukh’s two avatars in the film.

“The character (Lakshmi) was strong and powerful. Not only mine, but all the characters had very author-backed roles. We have got a gang of girls. Finally, women are also getting their due when needed. It’s not only to create sympathy but we are trying to do the right for all the wrongs that have been done to us,” the actor told PTI in an interview.

She added, “Through the film, we are trying to say, ‘I don’t think you need to be a coward anymore and fight for what you think is right. If something wrong has been done to you, don’t hold back’. It was wonderful to be part of a story, that too when you’re sharing the screen space with such an enigmatic character like Shah Rukh Khan.”

Also known for her work in films such as ‘Paruthiveeran’ and ‘Raavanan’ as well as the web series ‘The Family Man’, Priyamani said ‘Jawan’ places Shah Rukh’s character joining forces with his all-women army as a leader and not a saviour.

“Whatever we have been shown, it’s all for women’s empowerment. Gone are the days when we just looked pretty and did nothing and were there for romantic scenes. The character of Shah Rukh sir is also fighting with us and for us. That’s what we are trying to show. I hope from here on it just continues not only with ‘Jawan’ but also other characters in other films,” she added.

Girija Oak, Sanjeeta Bhattacharya and Aliayah Qureshi play the other members of the women’s gang in the movie.

Working on the pan-Indian movie was also a reunion for the actor, who first collaborated with Shah Rukh on the dance number ‘1 2 3 4 Get On The Dance Floor’ in the 2013 action comedy ‘Chennai Express’.

The Bollywood superstar has only become ‘younger and fitter’ over the years, said Priyamani.

“I am seeing him after 10 years. If you see how he has moulded himself for both ‘Pathaan’ and ‘Jawan’, he has just gotten fitter and younger. He is as amazing as he was 10 years ago. Those were only five nights that we shot the song, but here in ‘Jawan’, we shot together for 100 to 120 days. I had the best experience working with him. As usual, he is warm and friendly. He is just a super-duper guy and the most amazing person I ever met,” she said.

‘Jawan’ is receiving rave reviews from critics and audiences for being a blend of high-octane stunts and a politically charged narrative.

The buzz around the film was also high in south India as a majority of the cast and crew hail from the region. ‘Jawan’ also features Vijay Sethupathi and Nayanthara, who predominantly work in the Tamil film industry.

Maybe there was ‘a stronger connection’ with the film because many South artists worked on ‘Jawan’, said Priyamani, adding it was time to retire the term ‘pan India’.

“I don’t think we should use this term pan-Indian anymore. We are all Indian artists and filmmakers. North coming to the South or vice versa, was and is natural. We had Sridevi ji, Jaya Prada ji, Rekha ma’am and Vyjayanthimala ji ruling the north during their time. After that, there was a dearth of South actors doing well in the North. But now again, the barrier is broken. We all are there,” the National Award winner said.

Artists from both the North and South are getting ‘equal opportunities’, she added.

“We are Indians. We are getting opportunities everywhere. We should slowly wean off from using terms like pan-Indian film or actor. The audience has become a lot wider and they are accepting all of us. The South is also accepting people from Bollywood, be it actors or others. Finally, we are becoming one and that’s how it’s supposed to be,” Priyamani said.

She further teased about the possibility of a follow-up to ‘Jawan’.

“At the moment, Atlee sir just delved into the story of three of our women characters. But we never know. If there is going to be a ‘Jawan 2’, probably you might get to know the back story of the other two characters as well. But all that depends on the director and Shah Rukh sir,” she said.

The actor also talked about reprising her role of Suchitra in the third season of Prime Video’s ‘The Family Man’, fronted by Manoj Bajpayee.

“What I can guarantee you is that Suchi will not be the same the way she was in seasons one and two. I’m sure there will be something new for people to see in season three. Wait and watch,” she added.

Priyamani is currently shooting for the sequel of her Telugu film ‘Bhamakalapam’, which was released on the streaming platform ‘Aha’ in 2022.AGENCIES

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