One Star System Will Always Get Replaced by Another: Parvathy Thiruvothu

Actress Parvathy Thiruvothu on why she feels the economy will bloom for the Malayalam film industry in a post-Covid world. Excerpts from a conversation:

BR: Wouldn’t it be a kind of relief to not be in the star system if we went all OTT? Will the demarcation between commercial star value films and subject value films lessen with OTT?

I think one star system will always get replaced by another kind of star system. When we move to an OTT space, there will be another character and texture to it. Human nature is such that we gravitate towards hierarchy (laughs). I don’t know what it is but it could basically be a tribal mindset of having a certain structure. Whichever kind of stars there would be, I’d like to see them answerable and accountable to the kind of content they are putting out there. And I think OTT has a better chance of getting critiqued well, than box-office films. At the time of theatrical release, there is a big deluge of reviews and 5 star ratings and nobody can make sense of what the politics of the film is. But in OTT, there is a bit more scrutiny happening and I am hoping that it continues. It will be a different star structure but hope that it’d be one which has more accountability to it. 

BR: The system where the opening week of a star film is good regardless of how bad it is, do you think that will get replaced if OTT becomes the norm?

Hmmm… what is exciting is that OTT is not just about films; there are also limited series. I personally have a problem with series that stretch for 8 seasons or so, it is a commitment that I am not ready for (laughs). For me, it is something unbelievable when in just 8 episodes of 45 minutes, you’re with it and there is an end to it. One such series that I saw is Mrs. America and I was blown away. Here is a story that happened in the ‘70s during a span of 10 years that they have shown in just 9 episodes. That, for me, is a blockbuster. I’ve a feeling that there is a possibility of making a blockbuster OTT film with such a subject while reviving the charm brought in by great actors like Sridevi and Madhuri Dixit. One of the things that I find missing in Bollywood and the rest of the country is that we aren’t given a chance to explore the charm and comic timings that these actors could do. We are usually doing survival stories. Not that we’ll get tired of them, but we have comic timing too (laughs). Let me quote Tanuja (Chandra, director of Qarib Qarib Singlle) here, she said, “Parvathy why aren’t you doing comedy? You’ve great timing.” and I was like, “Do I?” A Fleabag for us will be great! 

I am also in a YOLO mood and constantly thinking of making something new because at this point, even the smallest budget films seem to be getting made. My friends Aashiq Abu and Rima Kallingal are doing a small budget film with just three or four main characters, in a 20-day schedule. But they know for a fact that the movie will get sold. In pre-Covid times, such a movie would probably have had a tough time getting a release, but now there is scope for it. 

Anupama Chopra: In the last few months, as you’ve been interacting with people, seeing new ideas take place and now with small-scale shooting having begun in Kerala, what have you been hearing that makes you believe in a better tomorrow? 

Budget wise, there are a lot of cuts happening, but I can see that they are including as many people as possible. That makes me happy because actors will be hired but the supporting characters could be taken out of the script, and junior artistes could get affected. But I can see that schedules are being planned keeping in mind the need to include as many people as possible. So that gives me hope, considering that they are putting the employment part of it at the forefront. Yes, everyone is taking a pay cut, and I genuinely hope that the stars take the most of it because there are no weekend numbers working for them. I also see that the Government is extremely invested in making this work with the filmmakers. I feel the economy will bloom for the Malayalam film industry, and I see that everybody is raring to go.  

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