Question — what crosses your mind when you hear the name Rajeev Pillai? A large majority would answer his muscular physique and his stint as a cricketer for CCL. Well, take it from the horse’s mouth that the hunk is not at all pleased with the answer. He says with a touch of irritation, “Almost 90% of the directors think of me as a mass of muscle or as a cricketer. Just recently two directors I met asked me why I was not playing cricket anymore. Same with the general public who ask me the clichéd question! I was a part of CCL some four years ago, but my cricketer image is what is stamped in the minds of the directors and the audience. I want to clarify that I am not a cricketer; I am an actor whose bread and butter is acting and I have acted in a lot of films!” Rajeev hopes that the message reaches all concerned, loud and clear.
With that irritant dealt with, Rajeev proceeds to talk about his profession — acting in movies. The mention of the latest film he is shooting for brings a big smile to his face. He gushes, “After my films City of God and Oru Muthassi Gadha, I have another film that will exploit my acting talent and not my muscles.” He is talking about Ankarajyathe Jimmanmar, directed by Praveen Narayanan.
Though the title is a dead give away to his role and may sound contradictory to his statement, Rajeev explains, “Yes, I play the role of a gym freak Jimmy, lovingly called Jimman, surviving in the city with occasional modeling stints and an interest in movies. What is special about the role is that the director recognised that I had a comic timing which he could use for the role. Praveen gave me the space and freedom to showcase the comic persona in me, for which I am very thankful.” The role of Jimman is a main role and what gave Rajeev added confidence was, “When I acted out my scenes, people present on the sets laughed and that happened five or six times, so I deduce I was getting the comic timing right!”
Rajeev also lets us in on another secret, “I had a past where I had gone to Mumbai to study theatre and I was just a junior there. So I had to make my own path to create an impression and space. I used to write scripts in Hindi with comic elements added and play out those on the stage to survive there!” Roopesh Peethambaran, Anu Mohan and Ronnie are the others in the film who gave him ample support. In hand is a role in Diwanji Moola Grand Prix and a film directed by Sajan where he plays a teacher....