Every director wants to kill off my character: Nithya Menen
The actress, who had the strongest role in Mersal, talks about her upcoming work and how she was destined to do films
Nithya Menen's choice of films have been unpredictable. She goes from a Kanchana 2 to an OK Kanmani. She goes from a 24 to an Iru Mugan. And now, she's part of a multi-starrer, Mersal. "I've been open to doing different types of films since the beginning of my career. I like being unconventional. If I feel like I'm given the opportunity to express myself as an artiste, I go for it," she says. Her choice of films is guided by her intuition. "It has worked so far. I am a soulful person, and anything I do will have a lot of soul. Anything I do -- singing, acting etc. -- I do wholeheartedly. It's one of my good qualities," she says.
And yet, her work life isn't a priority, she says. "My life is just about that. Sometimes, I accept a film because it feels cathartic. Or to stimulate the artiste in me. When you follow your heart, you tend to accept only quality stuff. You don't attract mediocrity."
Mersal isn't the sort of film you'd expect her to do. She agrees: "It is not a genre I generally take to, but when Atlee narrated the script, I couldn't refuse because I found it to be genuine. I realised I connected with the script. Atlee had also asked me about being part of Raja Rani and Theri. I'm glad it happened in Mersal. I like his clarity."
Does the fate of her character play a part in her decision to be part of a film? "Every director seems to want to kill my character," she laughs. "I have got used to it. Don't you think it's sad when they use my character and kill her for an emotional high?" And pop comes her philosophical side again. "But that's almost like our lives too, right? Our journeys end. But yes, I keep telling myself I shouldn't accept films that kill off my character, but somehow, I end up doing those roles."
She calls Vijay a 'silent actor'. "Some actors can be overbearing. But Vijay keeps to himself. It's easy to work with people like him," she says.
The actress, who's done over 50 plus films, has Rohini's Appavin Meesai lined up. "It's a beautiful film that's very close to me. It shows the real me. The other artistes didn't wear makeup too. I was very comfortable," she says.
She's also shooting for Prana, a Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Hindi multi-lingual thriller directed by VK Prakash, a National Award-winning filmmaker. "I play the lead in this film which has cinematography by PC Sreeram and sound design by Resul Pookutty. It's a pathbreaking film, as this is the first time in India that we're adopting sync sound technology. Everything will be done on the sets. There won't be any dubbing. "
I ask her if Prana is a woman-centric film. She pauses, and responds that she doesn't believe in labels. "When a man does a film, nobody calls it a man-oriented film. A film is a film, after all. I don't do films because they revolve around a woman. I am not feminist that way!" she says.
Nithya candidly declares that there are only a few good actors around. "And I'm not just talking about Tamil cinema. This whole talk of the scripts not being interesting isn't true. The truth is, we have very limited performers. Something fantastic gets written when there's a fantastic actor who can pull it off," she says.
Despite growing up in a family of atheists, she's a believer. "Many are actors today because they aspired to be one. I am here because I feel I am destined to. I don't do films for myself. I do it because others have instilled me with a sense of purpose. Everything I do is because of that," she says. There's a lot more she can do, she thinks. "Directors have just explored a tip of the iceberg of what I'm capable of. I can do much better roles."
She isn't among those who promote films on social media because it's just 'too much noise'. "Twitter and Facebook are emotionally draining. When I finish a project, I feel tired because of how much I put into the film. I need some time to calm myself. Socialising is not my thing!"
She takes criticism more seriously than compliments. "Compliments are like a breeze. They touch you gently and go away. Criticism isn't like that. They bother me. Thankfully, I don't get criticised for my acting. Rarely, I get criticised for my choice of films. Hey, but that's okay. I am not the director. I have become better at handling criticism these days," she signs off.