Apart from Hindi, we have seen you in Telugu, Tamil and Malayalam films. In fact, you had a Malayalam film with Mammootty very, very long ago (Prajapathi), and now you’re returning with Sufiyum Sujathayum, which is to stream on Amazon Prime from July 3. Do you enjoy being a nomad?
First, let me address the Malayalam film question. You know, I don’t know how that film is even being put into my filmography because I literally did it as a dancer. I don’t think I was there for more than five minutes and I don’t remember that experience very well, because it was around the time I did Sringaram. I was a professional, I was dancing, I was studying… So, I would say that Sufiyum Sujathayum is actually a first for me in Malayalam.
Do I enjoy being a nomad? Now, this again goes back to possibly how I’ve been brought up. I feel like culturally I’m very mixed, my ancestry is mixed, and the many different cultures in my upbringing have been very natural for me. Somewhere, I always wanted to be this pan-Indian actor. I don’t know whether it is my craving to be just loved by everybody or it’s just that whole syncretic cultural India that we are, and me feeling a part of that – I think it is a combination of that. Now that I watch more movies, it is also the diverse voices and different filmmakers, and I feel like I would be doing myself a disservice by not doing a film when I don’t know the language when that filmmaker makes the most insane content. And I feel like, film is so much about feeling and it’s not about region, boundaries or languages. You know that I became an actor because of Mani sir. In my head, I was like I have to work with Mani sir some day, I will be a Mani Ratnam heroine and for that I have to learn Tamil. And I’m game. If I can do that, then I can also do Telugu. If I want to do something, then nothing can stop me, I’m fearless like that.
When you do something like Sufiyum Sujathayum, from the trailer it looks like a certain kind of naivety — the word that you used — do you do something beyond the clothing, the hair. Do you try to see if there is some Malayaliness that you look to imbibe, say the way somebody uses their hands or their fingers or their expressions.
I do, definitely. I’ll go back to Naan Rudran, it really helped doing that film, because I did Sufiyum Sujathayum after that. Dhanush being an actor himself and being such a chameleon, he would quite often show me a head gesture and be like, you are from this village so you can do something like this. Whatever it is, I’m a city-bred girl. I might have learnt Bharatanatyam, but there’s a certain sophistication to it. I feel there’s a certain kind of naivety and innocence and almost like a – we use the word muphat – no filter, because it is not burdened by any kind of knowing that comes with being a small-town girl. In Sufiyum Sujathayum, they luckily made me a dancer – that’s how the script was. I already know hand mudras. I’m also South Indian, so I tend to use my hands, my eyes, my face. I’m aware of that world, though it might not be my everyday. But, is very important to get that because I can’t use my hands in a certain way. Having said that, we are also in 2019-20, so there, of course, is an overlap. Sujatha would have seen a girl wearing jeans, smoking a cigarette, riding a bike now, so it’s not like we’re talking about a period film. Yes, of course, there are mannerisms that one has to adopt and the simplicity also has to be adopted.