Mercury Actress Indhuja On Pulling Off A Wordless Performance And Meeting Rajinikanth

The young star spoke about being trained in sign language, shooting important scenes in the cold and sleeping for just three hours a day
Mercury Actress Indhuja On Pulling Off A Wordless Performance And Meeting Rajinikanth

Karthik Subbaraj's Mercury has received fairly good reviews since its release. Audiences have not only praised its experimental format, thrills and emotional quotient, but also the performances of Prabhu Deva and Indhuja. The actress has now racked up two back-to-back noteworthy performances, the first of which was the impressive Meyaadha Maan, which released late last year. She spoke about her role in Mercury and what her upcoming projects are:

From a talkative sister in Meyaadha Maan to a silent performance in Mercury, it has been quite a transition. How did you pull it off?

I got the Mercury role in the midst of shooting for Meyaadha Maan. I was the last to get into the team; the crew was all set and ready to begin the shoot in two days. The other actors had undergone a 25-day-long workshop. Karthik Subbaraj trusted me to pull off the role. We didn't even talk much! It was a difficult transition for me, from being talkative to silent in such a short span. I got trained in sign language for about four hours before the shoot began. A tutor was at the spot every day to help me with the nuances of the language. I just went with the flow.

In both your films, you've come across as a convincing, uninhibited performer. Do you have a background in theater or any other acting experience?

No. Surendar, an aspiring director, taught me the basics of acting. He's the one who increased my knowledge of cinema and my passion for it.

You were particularly impressive in two of Mercury's scenes – the romantic midnight proposal and the emotional conversation with Prabhu Deva before the climax. Can you tell us more about these sequences?

We shot most of the film, including the proposal scene, at night in the cold. We slept for three hours each day. During this scene, Beethoven's music was played at the spot, to help us get into the mood. The pre-climax conversation with Prabhu was shot in a single take. Both of us rehearsed once to perfect our sign language. Karthik didn't interrupt and just let us be. Everyone applauded after it was done. It was an exhilarating feeling.

A section of the audience felt that this conversation would've worked even better with subtitles, like those added to the other communication scenes.

The director must've felt that subtitles would've been a distraction and diluted the intensity of this emotional scene. It had to reach the audience directly.

Your team met Rajinikanth yesterday. What did you talk about?

It was a fan moment for all of us. He told us that Mercury was a superb film. His appreciation of our work made us extra happy. He also lauded my performance and said I looked beautiful in person. He jokingly told Karthik that I didn't look this way onscreen. Rajini sir said he had also seen Meyaadha Maan and liked it.

After an unconventional beginning in Tamil cinema, do you see yourself doing regular heroine roles too?

Definitely! The regular heroine roles also require a certain kind of performance, in which you have to attract the audience and hold the frame with just your screen presence. That requires talent too.

What next?

Billa Pandi, opposite RK Suresh, is ready for release. I also have Boomerang with Atharvaa, one film with Vikram Prabhu and another with Udhay Stalin coming up.

Many Tamil girls like yourself, Nivetha Pethuraj, Aishwarya Rajesh, Varu Sarathkumar, Aathmika, are doing well in the industry now. What are your thoughts on this positive trend?

When I started looking for roles three years ago, I was turned away for being a Tamil girl. But now, it's seen as a positive. Assistant directors in particular are happier as it is easier for them to brief a girl who knows the  language. Tamil girls are pretty in their own right. Some of them command a huge fan following now, the super popular Sai Pallavi is also a Tamil girl. The audiences are open to accepting talent from all corners, irrespective of region.

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