Gouri G Kishan’s life changed forever when the script for ’96 knocked on her door 3 year ago. And while Vijay Sethupathi, Trisha, and Adithya Bhaskar played their roles brilliantly, Gouri truly shone, and lives in the hearts of millions of Kollywood fans as their beloved Jaanu– the charming young school girl with pinned up braids, flowers in her hair, and an angelic voice. We spoke to the ’96 star about her experience in the film industry, killing time during quarantine, and her meteoric rise to fame.
1. You’re currently completing your Journalism-Psychology-English triple major at Christ University, while also working on your budding career as an actress. What path do you see yourself following in the future?
Yes, that’s true! Being someone who completely enjoys studying, it is safe to say that I am venturing out into both domains at the moment – academics and acting. However, I am focusing on my film career at the moment and I like to believe that I will end up following it as a serious pursuit in the future too!
2. Describe yourself in one word.
3. Name a director, an actor, and an actress you’d love to work with in the future.
Director – Vetrimaaran
Actor – Kamal Haasan
Actress – Revathy
4. How have you been spending your time in lock-down?
I’ve been listening to new scripts and working on new projects, getting back to Bharatanatyam after 4 years by taking up online classes, been catching up on movies and books that I’ve missed over the years and have been practicing Yoga religiously and wish to make it a part of my daily life. And of course, like all of us, spending some quality time with my loved ones. I’ve also been trying my hand at cooking too! (haha)
5. How did you first get involved in ’96, and what’s the response to your acting been like post ’96?
The turning point in my life was when I heard about the audition call for a Tamil film titled ’96, when I was awaiting my 12th Grade Board exams. With my parents’ encouragement, I ended up going for the auditions and after 5 strenuous rounds of screen tests, I cracked the part. Just like that, ’96 went on to become my debut into the industry and my big break. The accolades and praise that my character received post the release was unfathomable. Jaanu has become a cult character and people still call me Jaanu, not Gouri (haha). It is truly wonderful to know that a character you portrayed is still so close to people’s hearts.
Gouri as her famous character Jaanu. Gouri had the opportunity to play Jaanu once again in the Telugu remake of ’96 titled Jaanu, starring Samantha Akkineni and Sharwanand, released in February 2020.
6. What are some similarities and differences between you and your character Jaanu from 96?
Oh there are so many aspects that I could relate to the character of Jaanu. If Jaanu was brought up in a city, it’d perhaps be me (hehe). That is because I believe I possess a dimensional personality like Jaanu – soft but headstrong; romantic but practical; emotional but at the same time intelligent.
Wow, I honestly cannot think of a difference between us (hehe)
7. Do you have any inspirational figures in your life that you look up to?
I’ve come to realize that inspiration can be found everywhere and hence, it becomes difficult to pick names. If I admire a character trait of someone I just met, I try and pick it up from them to the best of my ability.
8. You’ve seen several places all over India, from Delhi to Bangalore. What’s your favorite city?
Without a doubt, it is Chennai where I spent most of my growing up days and for the same reason, it has earned a very special spot in my heart. Leaving the city becomes hard for me, even if it is for a brief period of time.
9. What’s something you hate and something you love about the film industry?
I love the acceptance and love that an artist receives and the impact that an artist’s work has on the lives of a common man is astounding.
However, being an actor comes with the peril of always being watched and judged for even the smallest of actions and hence, there is very little room for mistakes and improvement. The society has a tendency of being too hard on public personalities which might be a little too much to take in.
10. What are some upcoming projects of yours that we can look forward to?
My Malayalam Debut Anugraheethan Anthony where I play the female lead is currently in the Post Production Stage.
I’ve also played crucial roles in Master and Karnan with Vijay and Dhanush respectively, both of which are expected to release soon after the lockdown.
11. Name a movie you could never get tired of.
Jab We Met, undoubtedly. I watched the character of Geet during my formative years and hence it’s deeply imbibed into me. (haha)
12. Lastly- you’ve talked about trying to find yourself and what you want in life in your TEDx Talk. What’s your advice to other people trying to do the same?
I’d like to tell them that it is totally alright to be a complete Work-In-Progress at any given time. It is essential to normalize learning and unlearning as that is the only way we can progress through the numerous trials and tribulations that life throws at all of us. This whole ‘life is a race’ narrative is so problematic that it breeds negativity in human minds which in turn lead to a declining mental health. Effective communication and healthy dialogue among loved ones are paramount and people would come to realize that even the seemingly big problems of life have absolutely simple solutions that can be found within and around us.