Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Bye Bye Jo

A walk down memory lane with Jo as a fond farewell to the actress...

While Jo's debut was in Priyadarshan's Hindi film Doli Saja Ke Rakhna(the Hindi remake of our own Kaadhalukku Mariyaadhai), Jo was first introduced to me(and Tamil cinema viewers) in 1999, as Ajith's imaginary ex-girlfriend in Vaali. She was cute, which was a pleasant surprise considering she was Nagma's sister, but didn't make much of an impression other than that (then again, it was a miracle that I even noticed her considering that the heroine was Simran at her prettiest and most loveable self!). She didn't fare much better in Poovellaam Kaettuppar, her first full-fledged heroine role, where the only thing that stood out was her atrocious dancing for Poova Poova.... But though insignificant at that time, that was the first time she paired up with Surya, laying the foundation for the cutest and most perfectly matched Tamil screen jodi since Kamal-Sridevi.

Though she had just a cameo(supposedly as a favor to director Vasanth, who made her a heroine with Poovellaam Kaettuppaar) in it, Rhythm, released in 2000, provided the first hint of the overexpressiveness that would turn out to be Jo's calling card. While she was solid in the serious scenes, her expressions in the lighthearted or comedy scenes were definitely overdone. Then came Kushi, undoubtedly the low point of my journey with Jo. She overacted in almost every scene in that film and was at her most irritating. Her performance in 2 scenes - one where she apologizes to Vijay after the car breakdown and the other where she fights with him after he stares at her waist - were almost intolerable. But while I personally didn't like her acting, viewers lapped it up and she quickly became TamilNadu's heartthrob. Her growing popularity and fast rise among the ranks of Tamil cinema heroines were pretty clear as she was Kamal's heroine in Tenali the same year and was picked as the lead in Priyadarshan's woman-only film Snehithiye. And she paired up for the second time with Surya in Uyirile Kalandhadhu.

2001 was definitely the year when my feelings for Jo underwent a sea change. Dumm Dumm Dumm was probably the first time that I really liked her. She looked really cute as a village belle and toned down her expressions considerably. But it was 12B that made me move from just "liking her" to becoming her fan. That was the time when she and Simran were fighting for the top heroine slot and so their teaming up in the film(though, like in Vaali, they didn't share any scenes) was newsworthy. But Jo had the livelier, chirpier role and she made full use of it, charming us with her bubbliness and energy. And she had toned down her facial contortions to just the right level so that we could marvel at, rather than get irritated by, her very expressive face. The year was quite good for her too as she landed several plum assignments, teaming up with Ajith in Poovellaam Un Vaasam and playing the heroine in Singeetham's Little John. But movies like Star were black spots on her resume.

2002 was probably the worst year in her career. She appeared in a stinker like One Two Three and her Raja, where a demure Priyanka Trivedi almost stole the show from her, didn't do too well at the box-office either.

But she proved that she was just down and not out as she came roaring back in 2003. She started the year off with a blockbuster in Dhool, displaying good chemistry with Vikram. Then came Kaakka Kaakka, where she carried off her important role with aplomb. Proving that she could also play mature roles, she was beautiful, strong and dignified and made Maya an unforgettable character. This was her third pairing with Surya, for whom it was a career-making role (since we now know that it was Jo who recommended her to Gautham, I guess he owes her big time for where he is right now!). Jo also proved lucky for Vijay since her film with him, Tirumalai, ended the actor's long streak of flops and started him off on the best phase of his career. The year wasn't all good for her though. Priyamaana Thozhi, where she had a very nice character, was a flop and 3 Roses, a wannabe-Charlie's Angels, was a disaster.

There was no stopping Jo after that as the good times continued for her in 2004. She did her first double role in Perazhagan and was pretty convincing as a blind beggar girl in that. The rumors about her and Surya had gained strength by then and the couple did nothing to refute them. She also successfully broke the myth that actresses who had paired up with senior actors were rejected by the younger brigade as, after acting with the likes of Kamal and Vikram, she paired up with Simbhu(a self-proclaimed fan) in Manmadhan. The highly-anticipated Arul was a flop but on the whole, it was a good year for her. But the best was yet to come.

As 2005 started, she had already landed the dream role for any actress - the title character in the next Rajnikanth film Chandramukhi! Though not a classical dancer, she worked hard for the role and it showed as she was quite convincing as the possessed Bharathanatyam dancer. With the movie going on to become Tamil cinema's biggest hit, Jo now had her name in the record books too. And in what was becoming a regular feature, she once again paired up with Surya in Maayaavi. Though the film didn't do well, Jo proved that she had a good sense of humor as she played herself in the film and poked fun at her lifestyle.

Proving that she really was the top heroine in 2006, Jo then paired up with Kamal in Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu. She was once again mature and dignified in another strong role and this time, got to be in the biggest hit of the year. But again, 2006 was not all good. The much-hyped Sillunu Oru Kaadhal, her first movie with Surya after the two disclosed their romance, was a flop. Saravanaa, where she once again paired upwith Simbhu, didn't do well either. And June R, a rare film about a mother-daughter relationship, also came a cropper at the box-office. But on the personal front, 2006 was a great year as she got married to Surya in September. She looked gorgeous at the wedding and the pair proved that they were perfectly matched in real life too. But the wedding caused mixed emotions for her fans since she announced soon after that should would stop acting.

As 2007 started, Jo had only 2 movies left. And what contrasting roles they provided for her! She boldly took on a role with large negative shades in Pachaikkili Muthucharam and went through a whole gamut of emotions in the difficult role. The climax truly brought out a new facet of her acting. But she saved her best for last. Playing a deaf-mute in Mozhi, she was completely natural and performed the sign language with a smoothness that was surprising. Finding a character that offered her the opportunity to be both lively and subdued, as an actress, she definitely finished her career on a high.

A successful career where she paired with all the top heroes; a spot in the record books; marriage with her sweetheart; and all set to be a mom... Jo's really had it all. Here's wishing Tamil cinema's most loveable actress a fond goodbye and wonderful life ahead...


At 9:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I get to be the first to comment on this one... I am a regular reader of your blog and also ur review. Good work!

Nice write-up on Jo. I think you just made me a fan of Jothika.

At 11:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know, Balaji.. Overacting or not, I can't think of a time when I haven't been a Jo fan and my heart didn't skip a beat when I mentioned her name as the heroine in any given movie.

Like Simran, she significantly added to the star value of any film and to the expectations amongst both fans and non-fans.

Still haven't seen Mayavi, June R, VV, PKMC.. but was blessed (I'm kidding! :-) The right word would be "fortunate") to see Mozhi last weekend! She was indeed a revelation in that and went on to prove that "she is who she is" and deserves the grand exit every little bit..

Congrats Jo.. may many more grand things happen for you.. including an awesome comeback film directed by Maniratnam (one of the things that Jo never got, which Simran interestingly did!)

At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not a big fan of Jothika...but I was really impressed with her acting in Chandramukhi and Kaakha Kaakha. I am yet to watch Mozhi and PKMC.

Good actress...Tamil Cinema will defly miss her!

Bye Jothika!


At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am partial to Jo, but won't call her a great actress. She passes, but even Simran outshines, I believe, and I like Simran less.

She is a hardworker. More than her actions in Chandramukhi, which I personally felt was nothing compared to the natural beauty of Shobana's acting, her dedication in bringing out the last song properly despite not knowing classical dance, is something I appreciate. Also, her dedication in reducing her weight, during 2002. So more than her talents, it's her hardwork that admire.

Mozhi I hope will be a big hit. I saw it and loved it. But Jo, I felt, overacted and seemed like she had a Chandramukhi hangover. The bent neck and angry look was used just a bit too much. But Prithviraj, contrary to his looks this guy is just 23, did a fantastic role that required so many emotions. His dog chase scene had the whole threatre in splits and the way he let himself go and ran like a fool, was really great. If you see his Malayalam films, you would realize how well he does serious roles, and it's just amazing to see this young guy carry such diverse roles with equal ease. And then, Prakashraj, what to say about him...I saw a totally different prakash, and loved him. Amazing talent.

To Jo, there will be no goodbye from me. Simply because, I expect her to be back in a few years. I don't think it a permanent goodbye. So see ya, Jo.


At 3:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

// foundation for the cutest and most perfectly matched Tamil screen jodi since Kamal-Sridevi //

Is it ??

At 3:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post to be read on this Women's Day :)

At 6:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

BB..great post as usual. I have never been a big fan of Jo's looks or acting skills. However, I started respecting her for her personality, mainly her ability to laugh at herself, after watching Mayavi. I don't think most actors would have tolerated all those dialogs poking fun at them. In a profession full of bloated egos, she seemed like a breath of fresh air and for this I will miss her.

This is probably the first time I have managed to post before Ram :)

At 6:46 AM, Blogger Bart said...

Jo was a good actresses considering the times that when we really didn't have a Saritha, Sobha, Revathi, Archana, Suhasini kind of actresses or roles that are heroine oriented. But she wouldn't be remembered for long, I feel, as someone pointed out, not even to the extent of Simran.
Anyhow, good wishes to her and would be happy to see Mozhi for her.

At 10:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kumar, yeahhh...Jo pathi oru mail and I am behind 8 comments...sodhappiten...but konjam "busy" adhaan...;-) (regular readers will know the reason for this asadu vazhisal!)

anyways, bb, nice, warm write-up for Jo...

but something was conspicuous by its absence...the mention of MUGAVARI...hitherto one of her very best roles...though I thought she was cute in Vaali and Poovelaam Kaetupaar (in spite of the aanandha nadanam!), it was with Mugavari and her wonderfully etched Viji character that I went totally nuts over Jo...Director Durai showed how to utilize the talents of an actress in a sensitive it the fun romantic portions (the push-turn-pull-happy birthday routine was beautiful, so was the "kaetuchaa?" phone scene) or the serious scenes (that classic one with jaiganesh, jo and ajith at the temple), she was a class apart in that the way she says, "kadhal elaathayum vittu kudukum...sila samayam andha kadhalaye vittu kudukum" and "Sridhar, sridhar...ungaluku music epdiyo...apdi thaan enaku neenge."
selfless love was what made that character a brilliant one...

as for the other movies, nothing to add to your wonderful write-up...

At 10:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"foundation for the cutest and most perfectly matched Tamil screen jodi since Kamal-Sridevi"

BB, Are you sure?...I thought Kamal - Sridevi are notches above when compared to any of the current pairs.

I am not able to recall any of current pairs performing to level of a 16 vayadhinile or a moondram pirai or a meedum kokila.

Just my opinion!


At 12:40 PM, Blogger Balaji said...

anon, thanx :) and glad the post was so effective :)

anon, u did pick the best jo film in that list of movies u mentioned. good for u :)

and i'm not sure i want a comeback film for her even if its from manirathnam...

RS, if u liked her in 'chandramukhi' u should defly see her in PKMC and 'mozhi' :)

kajan, i completely agree with u. i didnt mention it in this post since i've said a lot other places on this blog but i most admire her growth as an actress. she obviously worked on stuff seen as her negatives and the effect showed on screen.

i for one don't think she'll be back. and that is based more on the fact that she is now sivakumar's daughter-in-law than who she is or that she is surya's wife :)

princess, yep. nice coincidence that i wrote about my favorite reel woman on women's day :)

kumar, yeah she displayed a nice sense of humor for her role in 'mayaavi'. her digs at herself and surya imitating her dancing were all hilarious mainly because of her agreeing to satire herself :)

bart, agree with the first part and not so much with the 2nd. i think she'd be remembered for long cos of a number of other factors apart from her acting skills... some of those i mentioned in the last para :)

ram, not sure how i missed 'mugavari', one of my favorite films and one where i thot jo did very well. but ur mentions from the movie make up for my omission very well :)

RS, thats why i said "... SINCE kamal-sridevi". surya-jo pale in comparison to those 2 when it comes to acting and would lose out even in the chemistry part. but i couldn't think of any other such nicely-matched pairs since kamal-sridevi :)

At 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, the kamal-sridevi pair was a class in itself...

look at their 'classics' movie list:

16 vayadhinile...
sivappu rojakall
varumaiyin niram sivappu
vaazhve maayam
and the best of 'em all,
moondraam pirai. whenever i think of moondraam pirai, my mind always goes back to one scene- not the climax scene but a little gem that occurs around midway in the movie, as kamal goes in search of sridevi...after looking for her at various places, he stops near a roadside pillaiyaar, bends down and looks at the words used; just kamal's wonderful expression that says a thousand me this scene is a sign of how life is for him without his "viji" and the climax underscores this point.
cha, kamal pathi pesa aaramichaaley ramble panna aaramichidren...!! just curious- anyone in here remember this scene that i just mentioned?

At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Balaji + Ram, Dudez, don't sweat!

She's back again with a release on March 23 with Manikanda! (Why.......Oh! Why?!)

Anyway, that has been confirmed by and is her 'last' movie.

Looks like Kichaa Vayasu 16 all over again!

At 3:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jo's last film would be manikanda with Arjun.. It's a masala movie and Jo's has done a commercial role if you know what I mean..
-Bhaskar Reddy

At 8:28 PM, Blogger Bart said...

Just a clarification... Though Manikanda would be the last movie releasing (as of now :)) for Jo, the movie was in cans for long. The last movie she acted in was Mozhi.

At 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ya, Manikanda is 2 years old, I believe. But watch the marketing for the film. Jo's last film will be the big tagline. Poor action king.


At 11:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kajan.. I really doubt that there would be any money left to market Manikanda at this point. Frankly, no sane producer would spend tons of money on a film bound to crash at the box office.. A Ullam Ketkume, Vettaiyaadu Vilaiyaadu and Godfather rocking at the box office, doesn't happen everyday and happening to Arjun?... You got to be kidding me! :-)

If the film releases on the 23rd (and that's a very big 'if' at that!), it will flop no matter what.. The reason would clearly be World Cup and Exam time. I really don't see anyone dropping everything and running to see an Arjun film lying in the cans for the past 2 years, leaving Tendulkar and the lot in the comfort of their homes! :-) ;-)

I doubt anybody will ever remember it as Jo's last film (except record keepers like Balaji! :-).. Sorry Balaji, couldn't resist! :-)

At 3:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Jo will be remembered by tamils, not because of her screen presence but she has been into a tamil family and living in tamil nadu. Also, she might be in the lime light wherever surya goes.

In my view, simran overtakes Jo in terms of performance oriented roles. Simran scores a lot ahead of Jo.

Anyway, farewell to Jo and may she entrall in her New role for surya.

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anon, i do kinda agree with you...simran i think was the sharper of the two performers...she handled some tough roles in a fantastic manner...and, she was a better dancer...but when it came to charm, jo had it down cold!

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ridiculous ! she overacted in every movie. Just because of her romance with Surya, she got more popularity. She is nowhere close to simran in acting or glamour. I guess tamilians like the overacting, fat lady look , as long as they have fair skin.

At 8:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent article..

can't wait to see Patchakilli Muthucharam and Mozhi...

At 1:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ram and anon, You are right. She overacted in every movie. and has "thoonngu moonji face".

Other than shaking her head and rolling her eyes she has'nt done anything different.

At 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The more I think of a movie I liked her in the more I hate her :). I think she got a bit lucky and quickly lost some pounds to extend her career.

I remember the ad where she just pours tonnes of Idhyam oil on a plate of idly. There's this song in Dum Dum Dum and the way she walks down the overbridge just reminded me of Donald Duck.

All said and done one of the few Tamil heroines to last longer then the usual shelf life. Hope she does not return as Granny. That would be the most graceful way to retire.

- KP

At 12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Though its too late I couldn't hold back)
The only time I liked Jyothika is when Surya announced that she would no longer act :)


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