After Sri Ganesh’s 8 Thottakkal and Rajiv Menon’s Sarvam Thaala Mayam in Tamil, Aparna Balamurali teams up with Sudha Kongara and Suriya for the ambitious Soorarai Pottru, which releases on Amazon Prime Video on November 12. Excerpts from an interview with Soumya Varier
It’s been about five to six years since you began acting. How have you worked on your craft?
It was a natural process, I’d say, because I never thought I’d come to this industry. I never thought I’d talk about Soorarai Pottru. So, whatever I learnt was on my own. To be honest, I am too lazy to go for acting workshops, and that is my drawback. I am very embarrassed about it. I’m the kind of person who would hesitate to speak in front of four or five people.
Do you look forward to feedback?
Yes, definitely. Feedback is so important. Whenever I’m dubbing I speak very fast, and that is a drawback. Many directors have told me not to talk so fast. I take those inputs and improve myself.
Most of the characters you’ve played are outspoken and honest. How different is Bommi? How did you read her?
This character is a village girl who knows exactly what she wants from life. She doesn’t care if she’s married or not, she doesn’t care about her parents. If she decides to do something, she will. If you come to Madurai, you’ll know how powerful women are and that’s exactly how Bommi is.
Apart from learning the local dialect, what homework did you have to do?
I went to a workshop conducted by Kalairani ma’am. She’s a senior actor and trainer. This was not for acting, but to free my body, because my character demanded it. I had to act freely, it had to flow. Another thing was to lose weight, because the sarees were light. A major aspect was with dialogues and keeping up with Bommi’s attitude.
Your mother tongue is Malayalam and you think in Malayalam. How was it to learn your lines in Tamil?
I was given the translation and meaning in English. So, it was an easy process. I know Tamil, but some words are different in Madurai Tamil. I’d get a translation for whatever I did not understand, and then learn the dialogues.
In one of the making videos, Suriya says that director Sudha Kongara is a drill master who won’t leave the set until she gets what she wants. What was it like for you?
I love that about her. I like the feeling I get from working. It was after shooting got over that I realised what kind of satisfaction I got. There’s a feeling that you’ve actually worked for this film, and it’s because of her. She worked so hard. Some days, we would wake up at four in the morning for a shoot, but it did not matter, because everyone was already up and working. I share a beautiful, affectionate relationship with her.
Did you have to go through many takes for any scene?
There were days when we went in for take after take and still did not get it right. But, I didn’t have to face any pressure, because there was this beautiful human being called Suriya sir. He did not let us get tense.
Have you ever been overwhelmed by any of your characters?
Well, each character demands something different. For this movie, I went with a clean slate, because this character was unlike anything I’d done so far. We shaped and developed my character from Sudha ma’am’s inputs.
Suriya and Vijay are hugely popular in Kerala. What was the first Suriya film you watched?
When I was young, I remember watching Pithamagan. After that, Kaakha Kaakha, where I loved the pairing of Suriya sir and Jyotika Maam, and Vaaranam Aayiram, which is my favourite film of his. The songs were so lovely. Recently I watched Sillunu Oru Kaadhal, and loved that too.
Did you ever bunk school to go for a movie?
Not really, I was afraid to. (laughs)
It must have been exciting for you to act with Suriya, especially since you’ve watched his movies from a young age…
Definitely. It’s not a small thing. He’s a superstar, and acting with him is an amazing experience.