The Shakti Soundar Rajan-directed Tik Tik Tik is the latest addition to the list of Tamil hits this year. The film has not only been appreciated for its unique space premise and high technical standards, but also for shying away from the mandatory romance track and song-dance sequences between the lead hero (in this case, Jayam Ravi) and heroine (Nivetha Pethuraj). Nivetha, one of the busiest actresses in the industry today, says she is thrilled with the reception to the film:
"People have messaged me on Instagram, saying that they have seen the film multiple times. This kind of feedback is new for me. I'm getting inquiries from fans from Kovilpatti and Virudhu Nagar, saying that they want to set up dedicated fan clubs in my name. This film has surely taken me to the next level. And since I'm a native Tamil girl, audiences have that extra attachment towards me. Tik Tik Tik will always remain a memorable film and a benchmark for me. If I can do two to three more films like this, I'll be content. I'm hopeful of bagging many more such different scripts."
She said that though there were times when shooting became strenuous, the cast managed to keep their performances natural. "The performances weren't exaggerated at any point. Our expressions were as subtle as they come and we never went overboard. I was very happy while seeing the film; it was so 'Hollywood' in its feel. It is actually quite difficult to keep the performance natural, compared to conventional 'acting'. I just went with the flow and behaved like my real self. In fact, all five lead characters did just that."
Nivetha spoke about some of her most physically demanding scenes. "The recently released sneak peek (the scene of the space shuttle crash-landing on the moon) was shot on my first day on set. They made me lie on the floor, I was lifted with ropes and harnesses, and made to bump left and right, to simulate that crash landing effect. It was shot with all the safety precautions, but I was naturally a bit scared. The training montage song was also difficult. For the swimming pool scene shot at Munnar, we had to go underwater after 6 pm; it was really, really cold. All I could see was mist after emerging from the water," she said.
Despite these attempts at realism, many reviews of Tik Tik Tik pointed out the film's lack of logic. How does Nivetha feel about that? "I'm a big fan of Hollywood and I look for logic seriously in their films. I don't look for logic that keenly while watching our Indian films. When people talk about the missing logic in Tik Tik Tik and compare it to Hollywood films of the same genre, I'm happy that they are comparing us to Hollywood. Anything can happen in space, and in cinema it's all about make-believe. There shouldn't be too much logic in fantasy films like say Avatar; it should just be presented convincingly. In the same way, the 'spaceship landing on the moon' is just director Shakti's perspective. The general audiences seem to be convinced and have taken a strong liking to the film."
Anything can happen in space, and in cinema it's all about make-believe, says the actress
Keen observers noticed that Nivetha did not dub for the film. "The lack of time was a factor. I was shooting for Party in Fiji, while the dubbing was being done here. The release got delayed eventually. In hindsight, I could've actually dubbed on my own. Anyway, I'm very happy with Manasi's dubbing. She could be a good alternative for me, whenever I'm not able to dub. But, going forward, I intend to dub on my own for all my films."
The actress has her hands full, currently shooting for Tamil and Telugu films of varied genres. "In Jagajala Khilladi, directed by Ezhil sir, I play a con woman. I've had fun shooting for it; it will be wrapped soon. In Thimuru Pudichavan, I play a local cop who doesn't flinch and confronts her seniors boldly. I play a sub-inspector, while Vijay Antony plays an inspector. It's a one-of-a-kind film for me. In Prabhu Deva sir's film, in which he plays a cop for the first time, I play his supportive wife. In Venkat Prabhu's Party, I'm paired with Chandran."
She also spoke about her second outing with Vivek Athreya, who made her debut Telugu film Mental Madhilo. "Vivek belongs to a different breed of directors. I've signed on for two more Telugu films with him, one of which will commence shooting right away and be released later this year. We have many discussions and do our homework. He understands me well and knows what I expect from a character. While my Tamil roles are more commercial, I wish to do realistic things in Telugu. My role in Mental Madhilo wasn't commercial and was received well by Telugu audiences."
Like many of her contemporaries, Nivetha commands a strong following on social media and is quite active on Instagram. She recently made the news after she quit Twitter, citing the negativity plaguing the medium.
"I personally didn't experience severe trolling, but there is so much negativity on Twitter in general. I just couldn't take it anymore. It's an extreme platform, with sensitive news and negative stories hitting our timelines! It left a huge impact on me and I decided to quit it for good. I'm way happier connecting with my followers on Instagram."