'Beginning is an experimentation of sorts'

They open up on their experience of being a part of the experimental film, shooting single takes, the film's core message, their upcoming projects, and much more.
(L-R) Gouri G Kishan,  Vinoth Kishan, Jagan Vijaya and Sachin Mani
(L-R) Gouri G Kishan, Vinoth Kishan, Jagan Vijaya and Sachin ManiVijaya Shankar

CHENNAI: Actors Gouri G Kishan and Vinoth Kishan, who play the lead roles in the Tamil film 'Beginning', billed as Asia's first split-screen film directed by debutant Jagan Vijaya talk to us after their film was screened at the 20th Chennai International Film Festival. They open up on their experience of being a part of the experimental film, shooting single takes, the film's core message, their upcoming projects, and much more.

According to Gouri, Beginning was a challenging experience of sorts, " It is obvious because we were a part of a film that was being made for the first time. The whole focus is on us. We literally shared the screen space with each of us on either side of the screen. It needed a lot of rehearsals beforehand. Executing the vision required a lot of planning. It was quite different from whatever I have done so far. From my side, there has to be so much preparation and as an actor, I feel empowered that the makers believed in me and gave me a powerful character that has several layers and is like a roller coaster of emotions. Being an escape thriller, we needed a palpable energy all the time, so as a person also to keep up and to adapt to it was extremely challenging. Meanwhile, it was an enjoyable experience as well."

Asking whether the depiction of social media abuse was inspired by real events or was an imagery of the director, Gouri replies, "It is a combination of both. When Jagan discussed it with me, being a woman, it instantly struck a chord and I am sure every girl would relate to it as well. At some point or the other, we all have faced the issue that is discussed in the film. It deals with men who are unable to cope with rejection of consent and differing from opinions of the opposite gender. When the director told me about the core message of the film, he took my input as well, and generally, we all believe that it is sometimes what a lot of girls face today. So, what you saw on screen was not just what was written on the paper but Jagan was generous enough to accept my inputs as well, which means that I have been given a space to speak."

Beginning also had a subtle reference to her previous blockbuster debut '96' in the film, Gouri chuckles and says, "That is Jagan sir's idea. He just wanted a nice connect, but my character doesn't react to it, but at the same time the audience could connect. That is something that was out of the box thinking."

Gouri adds that working with co-star Vinoth Kishan, who she has been a fan of since watching Andhaghaaram was exciting. "Ever since I watched Andhaghaaram, I have been a huge fan of his work. I always wanted to work with him. So, when such an opportunity knocked on my door, I was so excited and it was almost like a competition. Because he is an absolutely brilliant performer. But, we had very few combination scenes yet I completely enjoyed it and I even feel like Vinoth will win an award for this."

Gouri also has a few words as to what she feels about the film being screened at the film festival. "I feel proud, not just being part of the film but also being part of this community. Today's response at the film festival was so empowering for us because everyone was enjoying the film. They want to watch films of different genres.. They are giving us a space to see what experiments we are doing and I feel like as an audience, that is extremely intelligent of them. I feel proud to say that we are also a part of that community as well. I was fortunate enough to be part of such a creation, right from the time I landed the one liner, there are some things you have to do for passion and we all gave our everything. It was not an easy film to make. There are a lot of doubts about whether it works or not and with today's attention span of the audience, it is very difficult to make sure people pay attention to the film. But with Jagan sir's brilliant writing, I think he has woven it beautifully. After today's response at the festival, we are confident."

Talking about playing powerful characters with layers in commercial and in art films from '96' to 'Beginning', the actress feels like it is something every actor needs, "I think every actor does. We'll want characters with a scope to perform and especially being a female actor, sometimes it's less. You don't get as much space and many layers to portray. Whenever I do get these roles, I cash in on them and try to do justice to them. So even as Charu from Paper-Rocket, I wanted to do a convincing job because I am portraying a person with a disability (PwD) and I have to be sensitive about it. I am also very happy that directors and producers are trusting me and my ability to do that, although I have just begun. Hopefully, I get to do more roles," adds the actress

On her upcoming projects, the actress adds that she has two Malayalam films -- Vishnu Dev's Little Miss Rawther and Anuragam with Gautham Vasudev Menon and a couple of projects in Telugu and a project with GV Prakash.

Actor Vinoth Kishan walks in and speaks on acing the single-takes in the film. "It was interesting. For this character, the single takes were in fact well within my comfort zone. Keeping this character, we can't take it with cuts because it loses its continuity."

Asking about how he fit himself into the shoes of a differently-abled character, he adds, "Director narrated the script with the mannerism of my character. He already zeroed in on a particular way of delivering the dialogue. It made the process easier for me. Then, for a week we rehearsed the characters' body language and behaviour to get into the skin of it."

Vinoth too is elated on working with Gouri, "We actually didn't share much screen space in the film. We don't have a single shot together. But, when the audience watches the film, they would believe that we have acted together. My scenes were shot first. It was challenging for scenes involving Gouri because they have to match their scenes with mine. They have to see what I have done and match the timing properly. It was quite challenging,"

On asking how his journey has been in the Tamil film industry from debuting in Nandha as a child artiste to Andhaghaaram and balancing both OTT and theatrical projects so effortlessly, he smiles and says, "It feels good. It's been a slow journey but a steady one. Apart from career growth, there is also personal growth for me as an actor."

On what the audience can expect from his other projects, he adds, "I have two big projects lined up and I have done a project as a solo lead in Tamil and Telugu. I have also done a web series that will be out on Sony LIV soon."

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