Recognition is a great motivator, some say. But in the case of Rajisha Vijayan, it is not the prestigious Kerala state award for best actress that took her career to new heights but the challenges her movies posed. Rajisha, who won the state award for the best actress in 2017 for her role in the 2016 movie 'Anuraga Karikkin vellam,' suffered a severe knee injury during the shooting of her movie 'Finals.' But it also inspired Rajisha's 'sportsman-spirit' to complete the harder bicycling scenes left to shoot. Rajisha opens up about the challenges she faced during the production schedule of 'Finals'. Finals, starring Niranj Maniyanpilla Raju and Suraj Venjarammoodu, is slated to release on Friday. Excerpts from an exclusive chat with Onmanorama.
The character in 'Finals'
The name of my character is Alice. She is the daughter of Varghese master, a character played by Suraj Venjarammoodu. Varghese master is a retired sports coach. His greatest ambition is to make his daughter win an Olympic medal. Alice is a cycling enthusiast.
The effort behind Finals
I had to take a lot of effort to bring perfection to this character. The embarrassing part was, I didn't even have cycle balance when I signed up for 'Finals.' I had to ride a geared bicycle like a professional within one-and-a-half months. The training I underwent was far rigorous than what is portrayed in the movie.
There are four stages in professional cycling. One has to start from a basic gear-less cycle and progress to more professional ones. In the last stage, the professional bicycle has very thin wheels and it is likely to skid easily.
There is also a particular way to hold the handle.
The film was shot in Kattappana, Wagamon and such high-range places. The roads are not well maintained.
Cycling through roads in the high-range is like experiencing a roller-coaster ride. Moreover, one side of the road will be an abyss and the other side will be a steep rock.
I had a knee injury on the location of Finals. The ligaments of my right knee were sprained and I had to take bed-rest. I had to complete the rest of the shooting after recovering from the injury. Shooting in the most difficult terrains were completed after I was injured.
I followed a strict diet and underwent meticulous physical training for this movie. I consider all these as part and parcel of my job.
Award and career trajectory
There is absolutely no change in my career after winning the award in 2017. My life took a new turn after I got into movies. I can differentiate the phases of my life as before getting into movies and afterwards but trust me, the award did not make any difference.
I consider the state award as a signal to myself that says I am on the right track. I look forward to do characters which are different from what I have done already.
“You can.. you are beautiful enough,” this is what I would like to tell my younger self.
As a teenager, I believed that I wasn't pretty enough to become an actress. I lacked the confidence level needed for an actor. Now that I have become an actor, I would like to go back in time and tell myself that it isn't your appearance which matters but talent and willingness to work hard.
My personal life hasn't changed at all after stepping into cinema. My public life has changed. People has started identifying me as an actress. People take selfies with me. That is all.
Drawbacks, skill sets
People used to tell me that I am not tall enough to become an actor. Fortunately, Malayalam cinema is a very liberal space. No one judges and discriminates you based on your appearance, height or body type. It is your performance that matters. I am really lucky to have born in this land and to become a part of this industry.
Another aspect of my profession which I always attempt to improvise is the style of my dialogue delivery. I regularly practice rendering dialogues in different accents and intonations. I wish to master the techniques of good dialogue delivery, which would enhance my acting skills in turn.
Regrets in professional life
Not at all. I have strong reasons for committing or rejecting a movie. I ponder over a subject for hours before taking a decision. I admit that some movies which I rejected have become super-hits later. Some of my movies have failed in box offices or turned out as average movies.
Cinema is a big gamble. One cannot predict the commercial success of a movie before it releases.
Not even the filmmakers and technicians can predict the success of a movie.
I listen to the script and check whether I can connect with the role offered to me. If the character stands out for a reason and if it is different from the roles I have already played, I will pick it and offer 110 per cent commitment.
The script of a movie might change when the shooting is half way through. It is your commitment to the director which matters. Play your part well and leave everything else to the filmmaker – that is my policy.
My goal is to keep on doing good cinema. I want characters that challenge the actor in me. Cinema is like an ocean. I have done just five films. There is so much left for me to explore. My hopes and ambitions are wide and infinite.