'June' will take you back to your school memories: Actor Rajisha to TNM

Rajisha speaks to TNM about her 'schoolgirl' makeover for the film, and how the sets were washed away during the Kerala floods.
'June' will take you back to your school memories: Actor Rajisha to TNM
'June' will take you back to your school memories: Actor Rajisha to TNM
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Anuraga Karikkin Vellam seems so long ago now, the movie that introduced Rajisha Vijayan as an actor. She had cried buckets in that role as a girl chasing a boyfriend who seemed to have gotten tired of the college romance. It won her the Kerala State award for Best Actor. There were a couple of movies after that – Georgettan’s Pooram and Oru Cinemakkaran – but Rajisha – formerly seen as a VJ on Malayalam television - appeared to be taking it slow. 

And then suddenly, towards the end of last year, a poster surfaced, of a schoolgirl in pigtails, complete with the checked-shirt-and-dark-skirt uniform, bag and the mandatory braces of teenage. You may have blinked twice before realising that it is the same Rajisha Vijayan, the miserable girlfriend from Anuraga. The long hair was gone, the long face too. Rajisha must have swallowed a time capsule and gone back ten years to become June Sarah Joy for June, a film by debutant Ahammed Khabeer, produced by actor producer Vijay Babu.

Rajisha Vijayan when she was in 10th grade (left) and ten years later in 'June'

“I really had to work hard to look like that. Today’s generation may look ten years younger (than their real age) because of the way we dress or carry ourselves. But to look like a schoolgirl – I had to work really hard. Shed weight. Cut my hair,” Rajisha tells TNM.

There are videos of Rajisha looking upset by her makeover, cutting that long hair she’s been so fond of. Compliments had come to her just about the hair, and she had been one to always love long hair. “From my childhood. I have watched my mother’s long tresses and wanted to have the same. I have always had it," she says.

She had, at first, been reluctant to chop it all off for June. There are wigs now, extensions, that can really look natural, she reminded her filmmaker, Ahammed Khabeer. But then producer Vijay Babu, also an occasional actor, convinced Rajisha ‘if we are doing it, let’s do it properly’. She plays six stages in the film, through ages 16 to 26, and she's had as many haircuts. 

“I only felt bad when they chopped it off really short till the neck. But when I wore the uniform and saw myself in the mirror, I could see June, and knew the hard work had paid off," she admits.

Why June?

She had agreed to be June on the spot, when the script was offered to her, about one and a half years ago. 

“It is the whole relatability. My mom was also there. She doesn’t have much of an idea about cinema but I could see her enjoying the story so much. It is from a girl’s point of view, told in a very fun, lighthearted way. With the simple, simple things that take you back to school memories. Everything you go through when you have a crush – when you write his name all over, when you put his notebook next to yours on a school table, when there is a code (between young lovers) like three missed calls, just as a way to hide it from your parents," Rajisha says.

June is also that typical girl whose mom (played by actor Aswathy) is her best friend but has a soft corner for her dad (Joju George). “You might have watched that scene in the trailer where her dad pours her, her first drink. The same thing has happened to me. But not in that particular way.” Meaning, she didn’t end up bawling like June does in the movie.

The director shot the film in reverse, so in the climax where the movie ends, Rajisha has her original long hair.

It is not just her either, all the other actors who play the schoolchildren, had to go through makeovers. And then again, the younger ones had to look older when they were aged 26. 

“The newcomers were all a hardworking lot. They were selected in April last year, and now it’s February. It’s like we have all been in a class together and it is now the end of school. The school stage (in the movie) is my favourite – the assembly, taking the pledge, singing the national anthem – all made me want to go back to school and study and never get out of there," Rajisha recalls fondly.

Flood washes away sets

The name of the film - June – appears to have “influenced” the shooting, Rajisha says. There was rain all through the shooting. Even in Mumbai where it hadn't been raining, it began to pour when they shot. It is also Rajisha’s favourite part – the Mumbai shooting. Mumbai was one place she had always wanted to visit but for some reason could not. “I was brought up in the north – my dad was in the army. I even stayed in Pune for a couple of months. But it was like that Goa plan that never happens. Finally, we went there to shoot, randomly going to places. That’s how I travel too - randomly to places, meeting people there, eating the food there.”

But the rain brought to Kerala the worst flood in decades last August. The expensive sets of June too were washed away. 

“We had to stop shooting – a movie for which we had waited for so long was finally happening and we had to stop. But it didn’t matter. The entire industry stopped shooting and we were all into relief camps – collecting and distributing stuff. Felt so good, working together. I could see so much love in people, no caste or gender or social status dividing us,” Rajisha says.

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