Sunday, 10 March 2013

In the name of the Father...

Sridevi, Ashvin A Matthew in English Vinglish
Actor and comedian Ashvin A Matthew, best known to most us as Father Vincent in English Vinglish, talks about working with 'the' Sridevi and the experience of working in, what we simply consider, as the movie of the year.

Q: How did you land the part in English Vinglish
A: The assistant director, Jagan, watched a play called 'Gentlemen' by Anil Abraham where I played a Malayali Techi. I guess he liked my performance and suggested to Gauri to audition me. I did and got the part.

What was the shoot like?
I was a bit nervous on the first day of the shoot where I welcome Sri' ma'am and Sapna into my office. I realised I was racing through my lines to get to ma'am's lines! After that shot was canned I went back to the hotel and kept telling myself that the scene was about me being comfortable in my office till Sri ma'am asks me to speak in Hindi. I spoke to the waiters that night the way some of the priests speak here, in a very slow and deliberate tone. And then said a prayer and went for the scene the next day.

There was a great flow to your scene - was any of it improvised or was it all, as is on script?
The improv in the scene just consisted of me reacting as a Malayali would to Sri ma'am's lines. Everything was there in the script and Gauri ma'am told me to let the humour come from the scene and situation and to not play it for laughs. Sri ma'am gave me more than an amazing take and I just reacted to her character. so I guess it was easy! There was improv with the last handshake as we didn't rehearse that and decided to just really go for it.

We fans thought EV deserved an award for the best ensemble cast; everyone was pitch perfect. Was there the same camaraderie off-screen?
I just had two days of shoot so I never got to spend time with the cast but I thought the production and crew were amazing, made me feel comfortable from day one.
Sridevi in English Vinglish
Was this your first film? Were you nervous acting in front of Sridevi?
Yes this is my first film, I had only done adverts before. There was a bit of nervousness and awe but that melted away when I realised that I wasn't sitting across Sridevi but Sashi. Automatically I became Father Vincent as an easy reaction to that!

Writer/director Gauri Shinde with Sridevi
Adil Hussain [actor who was Sridevi's husband in the film] mentioned Sadma as one of his favourite Sridevi performances. Do you have a favourite?
For me what stands out in all Sri ma'am's movies is her comic timing . its just right. Her act of taking a second to understand something, then the 'achaa' [ok], and then the comic line that comes after that is an art!

What's ahead for you?
Well the future is good as I've just started my stand up comedy tour with Kartik Aiyer; "South Indian by Nature", written two film scripts for Tamil cinema and waiting to go into production soon. And loads of travel and smiles and miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep!

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