Vijay with Nayanthara in Bigil-1571810782387
Vijay and Nayanthara in 'Bigil'. Image Credit:

‘Bigil,’ directed by Atlee, is actor Vijay’s 63rd film. Nayanthara is paired opposite him in the sports drama that also stars Jackie Shroff, Yogi Babu, Kathir, Indhuja Ravichandran, Anand Raj, Vivek, Reba Monica John and Varsha Bollama.

‘Bigil’ is about a women’s football team and their coach. The trailer reveals Vijay sporting different roles — an elderly man Rayappan, a young Michael and sports coach Bigil. AR Rahman has composed for the movie and G K Vishnu has handled the camera.

Art director T Muthuraj said that sets were erected at EVP Studios in Chennai to resemble a stadium.

“This is a first of its kind in Indian cinema. Measuring 1,000 feet by 500 feet, it has galleries up to 30 feet and can accommodate 5,000 people. Over 45 days and with 700 workers, we put it up. CGI effects were worked on the scenes later to showcase a bigger image of the stadium,” he said.

‘Bigil’ will be Malayalam actress Reba Monica John’s second Tamil film. Born and raised in Bengaluru, John made her Tamil debut last year with ‘Jarugandi.’ The new film is special in many ways. Besides sharing the screen with the star of Tamil cinema, Vijay, she is excited as this is the first Diwali release in her three-year career. In an exclusive interview with Gulf News tabloid!, John talks about her cinema journey and ‘Bigil’.

Actress Reba Monica John.
Actress Reba Monica John. Image Credit: Supplied

Role play

“Bigil is a sports film. I am one of the players of this football team around whom ‘Bigil’ is centred. I can’t divulge more. My role is a significant one. She has a back story and some incidents happen to her. It’s about how she comes out of it and returns to the game.”

Training in football

“I was the last to be cast. The other actors — Indhuja, Varsha Bollama, Amrita Iyer and Indraja Shankar — were already training in football. For the film, real players were selected from all over India. Since I was never a sports player in school, it was not an easy job. I had to learn football from scratch. We had a boot camp for about four hours day. It was a month long intense training that included fitness, diet plans and rigorous exercise.

Vijay moments

“I have barely watched Tamil films but I was aware of his star status. My first scene was with Vijay. It was a surreal moment meeting him.

He asked me ‘Do you know how to play football?’ I was surprised when he said ‘Even I don’t know anything about football.’

He is a man of few words. I did not know the depth of my role until my meeting with him. He appreciated my taking on the role.

He sits quietly but once in front of the camera, he transforms into the character and delivers it in one take. However, if the director asks for another retake, he is ready. He has performed the stunt scenes himself. He is a quick learner and I have watched him go and play with the real football players. He is a keen observer too and his dedication to work is inspiring, despite being in the industry for such a long time.”

Bonding with Nayanthara

“We have combination scenes together. Being Malayalis we bonded well and now share a good friendship. I respect her and love her work. She is an inspiration for upcoming actors.

I discussed with her about my role in upcoming Kannada film ‘Sakalakala Vallabha’, a remake of ‘Naanum Rowdy Thaan’ [Nayanthara’s much acclaimed film].”

Working with Atlee

“He is a hard-working director with a clear vision and will do anything to achieve that. A perfectionist, he makes you perform until it meets his requirements.”

Cinema journey

“I was always academically focused and had plans of getting a doctorate in chemistry and teach. While I was into dance, music and debates in school and college, I was never a part of drama nor sports.

Cinema was never my dream.

Participating in Malayalam reality show ‘Midukki’ and winning the second runner-up title was the turning point. The show enhanced my confidence and brought offers for modelling. Cinema happened with ‘Jacobinte Swargarajyam’ [2016 Malayalam movie]. My role was small but I was happy to be a part of this film that won much acclaim. It set rolling more films. Now I enjoy acting and I am glad I am here.”

___

Don’t miss it!

‘Bigil’ releases in the UAE on October 25.

DID YOU KNOW?

Archana Kalpathi, the creative producer of ‘Bigil’, says the film is not another ‘Chak De! India’, the 2007 Bollywood hit about female hockey players starring Shah Rukh Khan. “Not at all. Expect the unexpected is the tagline of ‘Bigil.’ Neither is it a biographical story nor an undergo story,” she says.