I Couldn’t Stop Crying Even After The Director Said Cut: Aishwarya Lekshmi On Playing Ammu

The actress speaks about the significance of the film and how she spoke to domestic abuse survivors to better understand Ammu’s journey
I Couldn’t Stop Crying Even After The Director Said Cut: Aishwarya Lekshmi On Playing Ammu

Ammu follows the life of newlywed Ammu (Aishwarya Lekshmi), who whose world is turned upside down when she realises she is stuck in an abusive marriage. The film portrays the sufferings and inner conflicts of the lead character in a detailed manner and in a conversation with Anupriya Raj, Aishwarya Lekshmi says that the scenes were so intense that she couldn’t stop her tears even after a scene was over. 

After listening to the first narration, Lekshmi knew it was going to be a difficult story that was different from other Telugu films. While she found the film too intense, she says choosing the film was a huge thing for her. “After the narration, no one could say anything for the next few minutes. Usually, movies in Telugu would have hero-heroine arcs and dance numbers. But to take such a subject and make it with such intensity in Telugu cinema is a thing of pride. This is a subject that needs to be talked about. I spoke to a lot of survivors during my research for the film. They were able to talk about it only because they got out of this, otherwise, it’s very difficult for someone to open up,” says Lekshmi.

The inner conflicts of Ammu escalate as the film progresses, and the actress recalls feeling different emotions during scenes. Explaining her acting process, she says, “While watching the movie, one can notice the different red flags (in abusive relationships). But the intensity of these red flags increases with time. They (abusers) break your self-respect and make you feel like you are dependent on them. Our process was simple; the director would talk to me before every scene. I would close my eyes and listen to him. I don’t know how this worked, but I could understand the scene and its emotion better this way. There are a lot of things, for example, one would feel shame, and another might feel doubt and get angry at themself. There is turmoil happening. So I would understand what was needed for the scene and portray that and later fine-tune it in the second or third take.”

Lekshmi adds that there are verbal and emotional abuse patterns depicted in the film that one may not comprehend so easily. And it was for such scenes that the intensity of the film transcended onto the set. “There is a scene where Ammu tells everything to the police for the first time. She asks, “Did I marry for this, what right does he have over my body?” Her privacy has been affected and so I had to act as a woman who had undergone all these things. I was in that zone for a while and so even after the scene was over, I couldn’t stop crying. While I was crying, the director was also crying,” she recalls.

Ammu is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video

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