Aditi Balan debuted with the impressive Aruvi in 2017 after which she appeared in the anthology Kutty Story in 2021. Ahead of the release of Prithviraj-starrer Cold Case (an Amazon Original releasing on 30th June), she speaks with Harshita Meenaktshi R about how a break from acting helped her, playing an investigative journalist in Cold Case and how she's continuing to figure out her acting process. Edited Excerpts…
You debuted with the fantastic Aruvi which truly left a mark on us! So, from Aruvi to now Cold Case, and you are working on some unreleased projects, what is your acting process like?
(laughs) My acting process? For Aruvi, we had a couple of months and prepped so much for it. So, it was like I was living that character even before the shooting started. Because we were in it, researching and everything. For Cold Case and all my other films, I am still a very conscious and shy actor. People wouldn't believe that, when they see me on screen they say "you're such a natural", but I am still extremely scared and shy. Everytime I go in for a shoot, my first day is me being nervous. I then get comfortable with the set and it takes off.
For the projects, Padavettu and Cold Case, I didn't really need prep as such because I just had to go through the script and understand my role. For instance, in Aruvi, the entire film revolved around that character, so there was a lot more intricacy that I had to look into. And my Telugu film is completely out of my comfort zone, so I still haven't figured out an acting process for myself because I'm only four films old. But with every film, I try to crack something that I have as a limitation in my previous films. If there is something that is holding me back, I try to work on that in my next film, the first thing being I should stop being conscious. Whenever I do my first day of shoot, my second day gets better and my third day gets even better and then I'll want to go back to my first day and reshoot it. I know I haven't given my best on the first day.
I am just trying to break those things and I haven't figured it out yet. I am still learning, even acting wise. I had no idea I could act before I did my first film. I had a dance background, but didn't really think I would do films. So every film, I learn small things and new things! Someday I will figure it out and I will give you an answer about my acting process (laughs). As of now, I don't have a process.
The acting break you took between Aruvi and your next project, was that a conscious decision?
It was actually a lot of things. After Aruvi, I didn't want to be stereotyped as that kind of character or do only intense roles or only female-centric roles or only if the entire script revolves around my character. I wanted to break those things. In those three years, whatever scripts I got, I felt like they were very repetitive or not interesting enough. The three years were also for me to figure out in general about what I want to do and how everything works. It was a huge struggle for me, because people would constantly ask me why I was taking a break instead of making myself visible; I was quite lost at one point. So, to get out of that and to figure out my way and my path, it took me those three years. I don't think it was a waste. It was only for good that I took those three years.
Now with OTT platforms, audiences all over have been loving Malayalam Cinema. You're now doing Cold Case and your other Malayalam Project, Padavettu opposite Nivin Pauly. Tell us about your experience working on the sets of a Malayalam Film.
I am a huge Malayalam film fan! Like how you said, people all over the world love Malayalam films. I have always wanted to work in Malayalam. The thing is, not many people knew that I could speak Malayalam. So the number of scripts that were coming were very less. When I got this script, I thought it was a great team to be associated with, be it Anto Joseph sir, who has produced some really good films, Prithiviraj sir, and Tanu sir with his ad film career. But first, I wanted to put my leg in the Malayalam film industry because I love the films they make.
We have seen your characters in Aruvi and Kutty Story. In Cold Case, Padavettu and Shaakuntalam, how different are your roles from one another?
In Cold Case, I play an investigative journalist. The genre itself is different in Cold Case and my character is going through emotions that haven't been there in my previous films. The character itself is a very simple, independent woman, an investigative journalist who is trying to find out things based on her experiences. So Cold Case was more about the script and the character. Shaakuntalam is completely different. It's a mythological film working in the Telugu industry is very different. The character is also very different because it's a fantasy world of sorts and it was completely out of my comfort zone. And Padavettu, I think I'll be able to speak more about it only when the movie comes out.
We have seen the trailer of Cold case. It gives out a very horror, supernatural and very intense vibe. How was it acting in a genre like that? Where you actually can't see anything of that sort, during the shoot?
I don't personally believe in supernatural power and that was my constant doubt during the shoot. When I have to get scared looking at something, but there is nothing actually there. I had doubts if I reacted right. Was it too much or was it too less? That kind of doubt kept coming and it was a very new genre for me. So I kept checking with the team if I was getting it right but I figured it out soon.
Do you think a horror film will work the same way it could in theatres?
Ideally you'd watch a thriller or horror in theatres because of the effect you get, but I also think that an OTT release is no less. When you sit to watch a genre like this, you create an ambience around you. I make sure I switch the lights off and the room is dark for a horror film. Theatre would be ideal but the OTT experience would be no less.
Is there any certain kind of scripts that you pick or can we see you in a full on commercial film or a comedy film?
I would love to do a comedy film. I think even Aruvi had all its commercial elements. If it's just a role where it's coming and dancing, I am not too keen on doing that but let's see. I would prefer roles that complement the script, that are important in the script.