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    I just became Shahina: Meera Jasmine

    Friday, September 03, 2004
    Meera Jasmine, winner of the national award for best actress, attributes her success to her ability to become in her mind the character she portrays.

    "I start thinking like her. Then even my body language changes," Meera Jasmine told IANS in an interview.

    The 22-year-old, who won the award for her sensitive portrayal of 15-year-old child bride Shahina in T.V. Chandran''s "Paatham Onnu Oru Vilapam", believes she achieves this complete transformation only because of the blessings of god.

    You have been acting mostly in commercial ventures. Why did you accept a film like "Paatam Onnu Oru Vilapam"?

    You have been acting mostly in commercial ventures. Why did you accept a film like "Paatam Onnu Oru Vilapam"?

    A: I don't categorize films as commercial or art. According to me, there are only two types of films: good and bad. I only want to do good characters in good films. This has been my attitude right from the beginning.

    It is true that I may not get good characters from all the languages all the time. For example, now, I am not getting good characters in Tamil but I have some good characters in Telugu. I hope somebody in Tamil would create good characters for me now that I have won the national award. Fortunately for me, I got a character like Shahina in Malayalam.

    I signed the film not because I was planning to do a parallel cinema or an art film. It just happened.

    Was it because you felt empathy for Shanina that you decided to portray her on screen?

    Yes. I, somehow, liked the girl Shahina and that was the only reason why I accepted the film. When I heard her story I felt empathy and sympathy for her plight.

    Were you aware when T.V. Chandran told you about the plight of Shahina, a girl forced to marry an older man who already had a wife, that such things happened in our society?

    I only knew some Muslims married off heir daughters at a very young age but nothing more than that. I haven't even been to Malappuram (the setting of the story) before. The place I was born and brought up is totally different from Malappuram. So, only when T.V. Chandran sir told me the story in detail did I realize the enormity of the situation. I then felt very bad for the girl.

    Shahina is a Muslim school girl from Malappuram and the dialect that she speaks is totally different yours. What kind of preparations did you do, or did you just follow what the director said?

    Generally, I don't do any preparation or rehearsal. What I do is I think about the character a lot so that I become the character in my own mind. Once I become the character in my mind, I start thinking like her. Then, even my body language changes. I feel I could achieve this only because of the blessings of god.

    I also try to think how I would have reacted if I were in that position. I believe that human emotions are the same for everyone whether she is a Hindu or a Christian or a Muslim. Similarly, I tried to relate to what Shahina faced in her life.

    This is what my guru Lohitadas taught me when I did my first film. I had had absolutely no background in acting. What he told me was to try to be Shivani, the first character I did. He also asked me to learn everything about the character, even what is not there in the film so that I could become the character fully. From then on, I have been following what he taught me. I try to be the character. If I have won the award now, it is only because of what he has taught me in my first film.

    How did you react when you heard the news that you had won the national award?

    You may find it odd but I behaved in a bizarre way. I just cried. Don't ask me why I cried. I felt like crying and I cried for quite some time.

    You have won this award at a very young age. Do you look at it as a big responsibility?

    Yes, it is a big responsibility. Hereafter, my films and characters will be scrutinized more. It is true that I have always selected only good characters but I have to be very, very careful now.

    After you won the award, you said it was all because of almighty. Are you a strong believer in god?

    Yes, a very strong believer. Tell me, if god had not decided it, would I, a total stranger to films, a nobody from a small town, have got a chance to act in films? Now, I get such a big award too. I fully believe that there is a force above that is pushing me and guiding me to do these things. I have no other word to describe that force except god


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