Rima Kallingal: I'm looking forward to getting behind the camera
Rima Kallingal, who returned to Tamil cinema after a decade, talks about the differences she noticed between the two industries, her filmmaking ambitions, WCC, and more
After a 10-year-long gap, Rima Kallingal recently made her return to Tamil cinema with Chithirai Sevvanam, directed by action choreographer Stunt Silva. The film had the Kerala State-award-winning actor in a cop role for the first time. She starred alongside Samuthirakani and debutante Pooja Kannan in the film, which is streaming on Zee5.
Rima has been a part of Malayalam cinema for over a decade now, both as an actor and of late, as a producer as well. During her stint in Tamil, she noticed a lot of differences between the two industries. "As a culture, we, Keralites, approach cinema very differently. It includes not just those within the industry, but people in general. There is a major difference in the attitude of the public who watch a film's shoot in Pollachi and Kochi. People of Tamil Nadu are so enamoured with movies and the process of filmmaking. They still look at it as a magical world. But in Kerala, I think every other person has an in-depth knowledge of cinema. Film discussion platforms like Cinema Paradiso Club are an example of that. There's a conspicuous difference between the two industries, but I'm not saying, one is better than the other."
Rima was last seen in Malayalam in Santhoshathinte Onnam Rahasyam, a first-of-its-kind attempt in Malayalam cinema. The Don Palathara directorial is an 85 minute-long single-shot film, and it is not often that an actor gets to be part of such a film. "I owe it completely to Don Palathara. It was a wonderful experience working with him. Although he had a very clear vision of the film, he was always open to suggestions. We had two weeks of rehearsals before the actual shoot. He recorded everything and rewrote the dialogues as per our interpretation. We had a lot of arguments about how the characters would behave and react, but he always took time to convince and help us perform without any inhibitions."
Rima belongs to what is slyly called the 'Cochin Cinematic Universe', which includes her husband and filmmaker Aashiq Abu, directors Dileesh Pothan and Syam Pushkaran. All these Kochi-based artists are known for dabbling in various aspects of filmmaking and Rima shares that they have influenced her big time. "I came into the industry as an artist and for the first six years or so, I hardly knew anything about what was happening behind the camera. But currently, I'm part of a circle full of writers, filmmakers, cinematographers, and other technicians, and they have all inspired me. Being in their company has given me the tool to sharpen my skills and I'm definitely looking forward to writing and filmmaking". Anything on cards? "Yes, I'm toying with an idea for some time. Let's see."
A conversation with Rima would be incomplete without discussing WCC. The organisation was formed in 2017 for the welfare of women working in the Malayalam cinema but Rima feels the fight for a change is still on. "We are still continuing with our demand for a structural change and the need for an Internal Complaints Committee (ICC). The Hema Commission report has still not been published. But on a positive note, we've succeeded in initiating a conversation. Women from different fields have reached out to us saying how they've been inspired by us in starting their own collectives. WCC has played a crucial role in the coming together of women to share problems, new ideas, and understand that we're all facing the same demon."
On the work front, Rima has Neelavelicham, directed by Aashiq Abu, going on floors next. Also starring Prithviraj Sukumaran, Kunchacko Boban, and Soubin Shahir, the film is based on Vaikom Muhammed Basheer's short story of the same name. Incidentally, this story was earlier adapted by the legendary writer himself as the cult 1964 film Bhargavi Nilayam. "I'm essaying Bhargavi, the ghost's role. To be playing one of Basheer's creations is in itself huge. It's also invigorating that we're interpreting something which was originally made in black and white format with modern-day technology."