Parvathy Thiruvothu: I've managed my expectations beautifully

...says the actor, talking ahead of the release of her Hindi feature, Kadak Singh. She opens up about figuring out the essence of a character, her idea of being busy' among other things
Parvathy Thiruvothu: I've managed my expectations beautifully

Be it her choice of films or the way she carries herself, Parvathy Thiruvothu has been admirably unconventional. Unlike most of her peers, an illusion of absence occasionally follows her, perhaps due to her minimal presence at public events or on social media. "There's this expectation that one must stay busy in a certain manner, which is the only metric with which your value gets decided or your success validated. Thankfully, for the longest time, ever since I started my career, I've never adhered to anyone's definition of busy," says Parvathy, who returns with two back-to-back OTT releases in a week-span: Dhootha, a Telugu Amazon Prime Video series, which was released last week and A Zee5 Hindi feature, Kadak Singh, with Pankaj Tripathi, set to stream this weekend.

Excerpts from the conversation:

Some actors talk about the gruelling, anxiety-inducing process of figuring out the soul of a character. How do you crack it?

It starts with me asking the director what they want from my character. We can play one in many ways. But I need that clarity from the director on how a character fits into the bigger picture. Sometimes, it is based on the edit or the effect they want, which is difficult to figure out. At times, I would perceive a character as quiet and meek, and the director would tell me to bring out her chaotic side. But her chaos would be different from mine, and now I got to sit with the director and figure out this chaos they're aiming at. Once that's done, it's a joyride -- like being on a Ferris wheel. I believe in that metaphor because that process is exciting and scary at once.

But I've also worked with directors who completely declined any opportunity to discuss it. That's just their way of doing it, and it's okay because it's a trial-and-error method.

Have you had experiences where you put so much effort into a role, but the reaction was the opposite of what you wanted, and vice versa?

Not having control perhaps is the most frustrating yet liberating part of this job. You can only focus on the choice you can make in front of the camera on that particular day and go to sleep at night happy with the efforts you've put in. If I'm not, I'll do it better the next day. I don't want to figure out how the audience would perceive it. Each person's life experiences colour their perception of my performance. It's a pointless, hindering, and anxiety-inducing pursuit. I have managed my expectations beautifully. I have no expectations. I'm in a happy space right now.

Since you've been part of a series, do you find long-form storytelling liberating?

I feel it's the same in terms of performance. The only difference is that when there are eight episodes for a character to have an arc, one can watch it with patience. With Kadak Singh, I had an 'x' amount of days to work, and it's not much different as for a theatrical release, technically and logistically. But I did observe the leisure with which the character developed in the series and the crispness required for Kadak Singh.

The time-bound process helps in some cases...

Definitely. The funniest part is sometimes I've shot 80 days for a film and 24 days for a series. The proportion doesn't matter here at all. But for any project I do, I would like to know the number of days required from me, just so that I can give my best, and that's just the logistics part.  

What were the requirements for your role as a nurse looking after an amnesiac (Pankaj Tripathi) in Kadak Singh?

I play Miss Kannan, a mysterious character. I didn't say 'Yes' to it immediately after my initial conversation with Tony Da (director Anirudha Roy Chowdhury, Pink-fame). I was conflicted about letting go of this opportunity because the character didn't stand out on paper; at the same time, I wanted to work with him and Pankaj ji, the latter being the only person I knew. I wanted to know what this character's stake in the story is. Tony Da said something that won me over. He said that if Pankaj ji and I come into this, we can create something way above the page -- that we will build everything on the set. And, for once, I told myself, 'I'm going to believe in this magic. Maybe we'll fall flat on our faces. But what if we flew? And we did -- we soared high! It's one of the best decisions of my career. Whatever the takeaway the audience would have for me would be a feather on my cap.

Finally, what can you tell us about Pa. Ranjith's Thangalaan?

I can say one thing for sure. It's a personal take. It's a larger-than-life film that I'm in awe of. Of course, we've seen many period films, but this film goes beyond something of a certain period, and I got to play a character who has fundamentally changed me forever. This woman came into my life and gave me the honour of being her as long as I acted, and she has brought me home to myself. I guess this is a good build-up.  

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