I Have Actually Not Gone Anywhere: Actress Gautami

Gautami makes her comeback in Tamil cinema with Story of Things and has films like Thupparivaalan 2 and the Telugu epic Shaakuntalam in her lineup
I Have Actually Not Gone Anywhere: Actress Gautami

In the SonyLIV anthology Story of Things, Gautami plays a single mother, portraying her desire which later turns into her longing for a life partner. While Gautami shot for the anthology for three or four days and appears on screen for close to 15 minutes in the 46-minute episode, she delivers a telling performance that marks her comeback in Tamil cinema.

The actress, who was last seen in Papanasam (2015) in Tamil, sits down for a chat about the anthology, her script selection, her upcoming projects and more.

Story of Things was unique and surreal. What interested you the most about this series? Was it the concept? 

Initially, it was precisely what you just said. The concept was surreal and interesting. There is something very hard about finding stories or concepts or even individual characters that are different. But the entire concept of the anthology is so innovative and interesting and that got my attention.

Even when I didn't know George (George K Antoney, director of this series) or that this was his debut, there was still a sense of feel-goodness in the story. It was the same when working on it. I really felt good about having gone to work on the shoot days.

Director George K Antoney and actress Gautami
Director George K Antoney and actress Gautami

As you said, this anthology marks his directorial debut. So when debut directors approach you, what do you look for in the script or narration?

I look for the kind of writing every director does. It is not necessary that every director write their own script. But what I do look for in directors is their sense of writing because it gives you a sense of narrative, how they look at character development and how they are going to handle dialogues. And of course the technical skills, they don’t have to be experts in everything but they need to be conversant enough to be able to craft their vision. In that way, George definitely has the expertise. He was very clear, but at the same time had an open-minded attitude towards what he wanted to show. 

You have also worked with directors and actors of different generations. How different is the film's atmosphere or experience when you work with new-generation artists?

So working with different generations is not a question of younger people and older people. It’s definitely not so much about age as it is about how well-prepared you are. Talking about different generations in terms of how they think is exciting because every generation has its own language. Personally, that is something I relate a lot to. Because I am always looking for “I have done this and what next can I do to challenge myself?” In that quest of what’s next, I am looking to do work that is interesting and challenging, and that will come only when you work with different people of different ages, languages and backgrounds.

Gautami in Story of Things
Gautami in Story of Things

You have been in the cinema industry for over three decades and have made comebacks in 2003, 2015 and now. You have also worked as a costume designer and television host. What does the word comeback mean to you?

I've actually never gone anywhere. I have been very much in the thick of things. I have been working continuously, and I have been working in different formats, responsibilities, and roles which are very much mainstream, whether in front or behind the camera. I have actually not gone anywhere. 

You also have a series of exciting projects lined up this year.

Yeah, there are films like Shaakuntalam and I just finished shooting for a Hindi web series. I believe Thupparivalan 2 is going to be filmed this year. In addition, three or four Telugu films are going to get released and I have done another shoot for an Amazon Prime series. This past year has been extremely busy and exciting. 

Gautami, Aditi Balan and Samantha in Shaakuntalam
Gautami, Aditi Balan and Samantha in Shaakuntalam

Great, now going back to your first Tamil film Guru Sishyan, can you tell us your favourite memory about that film?

Guru Sishyan (1988) has been a really special film. For me, it has never been about the money or doing a glamour role or anything else. Instead, it has always been about what new I am going to do today. So, when I came to the industry with that approach, the people that I worked with became very important because it had to be healthy as well as a place where I felt safe. What I mean when I say safe is a place where you feel nurtured and know you can actually work, figure it out and focus on what you want to do. So, doing Guru Sishyan at that stage in my career definitely created a big impact on my decision to say that this is definitely a place where I would like to stay. I was brand new and everyone was so protective on the set. And it was definitely an unforgettable experience.

Gautami in Guru Sishyan
Gautami in Guru Sishyan

So when you acted in Guru Sishyan, did you know Tamil?

Well, I didn't know. Like I told you, I truly didn't know anything about it. I finished studying at Bishop Cottons in Bangalore and I was doing my engineering. It was a completely different walk of life. And then probably the acting opportunity came out of nowhere (She made her debut in Telugu and Kannada in 1987, before Guru Sishyan). 

My family said this is a wonderful opportunity, and not many people will get this. They let me decide and supported me. So I had full support from the beginning. There was such a big hue and cry about cinema and acting so I wanted to see what it was about. And the rest is history, as they say. 

Gautami in Story of Things
Gautami in Story of Things

From there, you have done a lot of films across industries. How has your script selection changed? What do you look for today?

Definitely, the way that I look at scripts has evolved. Because when you know more about the technical aspects of work, you start looking at different aspects that give you far more dimensions of a story than just “Kadhai Enna? (What is the story?)”

It depends on how it is being made, how it is told, and what are the different components that go into it like the actors, the setup, and how they work together. Besides a great script and enthusiasm, it takes a lot of very practical skills to be able to do that.

Lastly, in recent times, several films and series have begun to give important roles to actresses of all ages. How do you look at the change?

Well, I'm glad that is happening more often now. Because we have been lucky enough in the past to see amazing performances by really brilliant actresses of different age groups. But now you're right in saying that we are seeing far more of them. 

And I think that is something where the audience is a winner because you get to see these amazing actors who have such an impressive body of work behind them bring all of that experience to the role that they enact today. So I would say that it is a really wonderful thing, and for me personally, I feel very good to see that happening. 

Related Stories

No stories found.