Aishwarya Lekshmi who is basking in the success of Ponniyin Selvan I is now also busy in Telugu and Malayalam industries. While her Telugu film Ammu was out on Amazon Prime Video last week, her next in Malayalam, Kumari, is slated to release tomorrow in theatres. In a free-flowing chat with Anupriya Raj, the actress speaks about the mythology in Kumari, why the film has become more relevant now, and how difficult it is to grow as an actor.
The trailer of Kumari hints that the story is based on a myth about a demon, Illymala Chathan. Lekshmi says that she has heard a lot of similar stories in her childhood and that the characters from the film come from many such tales. “Kumari is similar to the stories our grandmothers tell to entertain us and the intent of the film is to make the audience travel to another world. Kumari is derived from many elements from a story in Vadakkan Eithihyamala (book). In fact, a line from that story forms the basis of Kumari. But the place and several characters in the film are fictional. And even the time period is not mentioned. So a lot of cinematic liberties have been taken in the film,” says Lekshmi.
Kumari also deals with age-old traditions and human sacrifice. Since the story is of myths and fables, Lekshmi notes that the film was not written in a way to become relevant in present times. However, she says that the recent happened close to the time of the film’s release. “We might think that this is the time of digital media but such beliefs still exist. While researching for Kumari, I learned that even today there are people who practice occult magic. In this film, the story and situations are realistic but the setting is different; a different world where things that are hard to believe are introduced.”
Over the years, Lekshmi has proved her mettle as an actor, as someone who is capable of shouldering a film on her own. She tells us that every artist has to struggle to reach a certain level in the industry and she would call hers ‘destiny’. “I was destined to be Appu in Mayaanadhi (2017). It was initially said that someone else was cast but after that Appu came to me. In Ponniyin Selvan I, though I was first offered Vanathi, was later given Poonguzhali. Even for Ammu, many people asked me not to do the film. They said if I do such a movie in Telugu, then I will never get another movie from the Telugu film industry. But I did the exact opposite. So, I think, in my case, it was destiny.”
But the actress asserts that sustaining and growing as an actor is difficult and finding acceptance as a female artist is slightly more challenging. “For me, I work based on each film. Now, I have been doing a lot of intense roles. So I wish to do movies with more fun characters. But if it doesn’t work out, it is not like the fun genre didn’t work, it’s just that particular movie didn’t work and so I will try again. That’s how I work. Each actor has a way of doing things, so the struggle of the artist is their own. Finding acceptance will be a little bit more difficult for females because we are not used to it. As a society, we are conditioned to overlook. So often female artists have to ask for what one easily allots to a male actor. I will ask for what I should get and I will make sure my production is not affected. But if it is something that I should get rightfully, then I will demand it. I am shameless at it,” the actress concludes.