I don't like being photographed without my permission: Sai Pallavi
Premam-fame Sai Pallavi, who is basking in the success of Fidaa, talks to CE at length about her career, interests and life at large
“Malar! Nan en pera sonnen!” she said, and we all went 'Fidaa' over her bold voice and expressive eyes. Not just Kerala, Premam was a rage in Tamil Nadu too, where it was the first Malayalam film to run for more than 100 days. Of course, the infection had spread in other south Indian states and internet went crazy over Premam and Malar. A girl like any of us, Sai Pallavi is a powerhouse of confidence with a million-dollar smile. She made a pimple look like a simple, little thing peeping out of our skin to see the world. Surprisingly, pimples seemed to add beauty to her vibrant persona.
As if stealing millions of hearts was not enough, Bhanumathi aka Malar aka Sai Pallavi wants to study cardiology in the future. Be it dance, acting or MBBS, this hybrid pilla (girl) does it all gracefully.
On a drive from Banjara Hills to Alwal, Pallavi says she takes back some trait from every character she plays, and this time she has taken back loudness and expressiveness. “My parents were puzzled to see me behave like Bhanumathi. I lived like her for one year. Of course, I am back to being Pallavi,” she smiles looking at her mom.
Her beauty comes from her attitude. She called for a press meet to thank her assistant directors, crew, and floor boys. “People only see what’s on screen and appreciate it. But there is a lot of hard work that goes behind. One guy stands outside a store for costumes, another runs around giving coffee, one guy ensures the set is perfect. It’s a team effort. The credit goes to every person on the set,” she starts the conversation with gratitude.
Narrating her Telangana story, she says, “One of my assistant directors told me that he was against his kids talking in Telangana because its a bit crude, but after hearing me, he is encouraging them to speak the dialect. That is the best compliment I had ever received. I want to touch hearts.”
“A doctor need not look young right?” she questions while answering about her acting career. “I will act until people want to watch me and later get back to my medicine. I can’t do both simultaneously. I can’t play with human lives. It is surely a career option that I will fall back upon,” says the doctor.
She breathes dance. She says dance is something that brings the best out of her. “I wanted to be a dancer. You can see my face at my happiest best when I dance. I came here for dance shows, but acting happened. I was offered roles, even when I was doing dance reality shows. My parents sent me to Georgia for studies, so that there is no distraction in my education,” this Suriya fan shares. As a kid, Pallavi would often go missing from the class only to surface at the auditorium, dancing. Her mom had plans of sending her to Birju Maharaj for professional Kathak training.
She believes that while Alphonse Puthren (Premam director) made her confident about herself, Sekhar Kammula brought out her hidden talents to the fore. “My parents rarely took us to movies. We didn’t know about Sekhar Kammula. I asked my friends about him and they said his films Anand, Godavari and Leader were really good,” she says, while her mom supports her point saying, “My sister’s husband also told us about him. The moment she heard that the story is about the boy leaving his place after the wedding for the girl, she looked at me and said ‘It’s just like I always wanted!’ She always tells me that she wants someone who will come and be with her.”
Family, marriage and more:
“Although marriage is not on cards for a long time to come, I want to be with my parents and be the ‘daughter’ of the family,” the doting daughter smiles.
“Mom accompanies me almost everywhere. Once I get into work, I don’t take care of myself. She takes care of me on the sets. But these days, she is asking me to go alone sometimes to become a bit more independent,”she says looking at her mom, who complains about her popular daughter’s negligence towards her own health and stress levels.
Pallavi isn't a fan of remakes. “I can’t do remakes. Once I do one character, I hate to repeat it. It’s out of my system, once its done,” she says. She is modest about her acting skills and says that she can’t act but just behaves like the character instead.
“I was naughty as a kid, but have become calm and composed after growing up. I had to be more responsible while studying medicine. One needs patience to be a doctor. As far as my grades went, I was a nerd,” Pallavi says while talking about her growing up.
Pallavi considers herself a workaholic, and says she gets restless and drives everyone nuts when she is idle and has nothing to do.
Pooja Kannan, Pallavi’s younger sister, who is famous on instagram with 96.4 K followers, is her go-to person. “She knows me better than my mom. She knows me so well that she can get me out of distress in a jiffy. People think we are twins, but she is five years younger to me. I am a timid person but she is the opposite. She is lively and bubbly. She is doing her third year in English literature,” she says and adds that her baby sister is her soul sister.
Privacy and emotions
Fame comes with a price. She became an overnight star after Premam. Although she is overwhelmed by the way people own her, she dislikes being photographed without her permission. “I am not a tree or monument. I like it when people ask for permission while taking the picture. All they need to say is, 'I like you. Is it okay if I can take a pic?’"
Is she emotional like Bhanumathi? “For New Year's, I was supposed to surprise my parents, but I missed my flight. I was crying at the airport. A man passed by, but didn’t bother to console me. I felt bad for his nonchalance. It feels good when someone cares for me – be it for pics or when I'm in distress,” she says, admitting that she is an emotional person.
‘She doesn’t have the face of a heroine’ is the stereotypical statement made about all actresses who have a girl-next-door look. Pallavi questions the notion of the ‘heronie looks’, “We can’t measure beauty. I think confidence is the best makeup women can wear,” this no-makeup actress says.
With shoots ruling her schedules, Pallavi feels that she has not been concentrating on fitness and is hoping to make some time for it. “I have been eating right. But, I have to take up a fitness regime at least thrice a week. I am not a gym person. Yoga is my form of exercise. I start doing it again,” she assures herself while sipping water.
Her tresses are adored by her fans, as much as her smile and voice. Asked if she would chop it if a role demands, she laughs and says she would have said ‘No’ had this question popped up last year. “Now, my hair has gone through a lot of torture. I have developed hair fall. If it's a worthy role, I wouldn’t mind chopping it and regrowing it."
Though she prefers long hair, Pallavi had a boy-cut until the age of 14. "People thought I was a boy." The actress, who says she comes from a spiritual background, says, "I think the pictures of goddesses changed my perception. I thought I should grow hair to look like a goddess. When I moved to Georgia, I was just lazy. So I let it grow for six years. It’s a fusion of all the above reasons.” (Laughs)
Talking about her spirituality, she says she feels positive about herself only because she is a spiritual person. “When I say spirituality, I don’t mean idol worship. It’s about how happy you are and how much happiness you can spread around. I meditate. It’s my daily ritual. Prayers are not about asking for something. It is about having faith that things will be alright,” she explains. Her mom supplements her statement and says Pallavi talks to God a lot. Patting her mom, she says, “I talk to myself thinking God is hearing.” Her stress busters are singing bhajans, long walks, meditation and talking to herself.
Unlike others, Pallavi has a different answer for her bucket list. “Whatever I wish for is just 10 percent of what I have got. Why have a bucket list when greater things are happening. I just let things happen and sit back to enjoy,” she says, making us think.
Apart from dance, Pallavi enjoys badminton. “I love tennis too, but I am not talented enough to play,” she laughs, while her mom adds, “She is not strong enough to play.” Pallavi laughs out loud and says her mom has tons of complaints against her. “From the time, she got into acting, she has stopped taking care of herself. She is not healthy enough. She doesn’t eat enough,” her mom says, in the typical manner of mothers.
Pallavi's mother is her biggest fan, and she says her mom was surprised and also happy that she pulled off her role in Fidaa.
One can find Instagram and Twitter on her phone. “I lurk on Instagram and tweet sometimes. I don’t post stories or video clips. I used to be hooked to Facebook long ago,” she shares.
Terms and conditions apply:
In one of her interviews, she had mentioned about the conditions she puts forward when accepting a film. When asked about it, she says, "No skin show and kissing scenes. I am not comfortable doing them and I can’t imagine my parents watching it. I want to make them proud and not cringe,” the dutiful daughter says, while also admitting that she could wear that black dress in Fidaa only because her director knows how to show a girl in a dignified way. “Any dress, including saree, can be shown in both dignified and vulgar ways. I trust Sekhar sir. That is the maximum skin show, I can do,” Pallavi affirms while looking exquisite in a simple kurti.
Koncham kadu, chaala:
Wondering where she got the Telugu fluency from? It’s one year of hard work and Sekhar Kammula training. “I would go through my lines at least a 100 times. I can’t go unprepared. It will show up in my body language. A small doubt in a dialogue, my eye ball goes to the right. It has to flow through me. So I ensure I am fully prepared,” she recalls.
She is all set for her Tamil debut, Karu, which is going to be a bilingual and MCA with Nani, produced by Dil Raju. “I am listening to a lot of scripts. I take my time to decide. We will know shortly,” she says, when asked about future projects. “I was looking for women-centric films. But later I realised Premam and Fidaa don’t happen every day. Sekhar, too, advised me to loosen up and experiment. So, MCA is a cool role,” she concludes.