We have made history with Mercury: Meyaadha Maan fame Indhuja
The actor, whose first film as lead, Mercury, has opened to generally positive reviews, talks about her choice of films
It's not every day that an actor gets to star in a silent film, let alone make a debut as lead in it. Indhuja has done both in Karthik Subbaraj's Mercury, which has been widely appreciated. Interestingly, Indhuja wasn't the first choice for this Prabhudheva-starrer. "The casting for Mercury was all done, before I got on board," she says. But due to some issues, the first-choice heroine couldn't do the film. "I got the chance because I'd done Meyaadha Maan (which was produced by Karthik). Sir had seen my performance in that film and felt I could pull this role off. Just two days before the shoot, I was introduced to the team who had all trained for their roles for more than a month. My training was a mere four hours."
Mercury marks a return of the silent film genre more than 30 years after the 1987 Kamal Hassan-starrer, Pesum Padam. Indhuja can't stop talking about how unique it was to be part of such a film. "An artist can hold the frame with dialogues and modulation, but doing that without uttering a word was complicated. Kannule pesanum. Everything needed to be conveyed to the audience too." But she doesn't really think of it as a particularly challenging part. "The weather conditions we worked in were more challenging than the film itself," says Indhuja, who shot extensively in Kumili for the film.
Interestingly, actors didn't really feel an urge to say lines while shooting for this silent film. "We all just went with the flow. There were hardly any extra takes. I guess we pulled it off well because we knew we couldn't get such an opportunity again," she says. "We have made history, and I'm happy to have been a part of such a team," says Indhuja, who is all praise for her director. "Karthik sir is one of the most sensible directors in the current generation. He knows what he exactly wants in the frame. When he's on the sets, there's pin-drop silence, just like you see in the film. Whatever appreciation we get must all go to him."
Indhuja doesn't really think there was any risk in doing a silent film. "We've never had a silent film in our generation. What can an artiste want more than a challenging role in such a film?" she asks. She's glad she didn't end up making her debut as lead in a formulaic film. "Mercury was a different experience and Karthik sir entrusted me with the role. It was a pat on the back for me," adds Indhuja.
The actor also strongly believes that Mercury shows Prabhudheva in a way we haven't seen him before. "We have all seen Prabhudheva sir's films and we know he's a wonderful actor. However, I feel he's most underrated. Mercury shows all his range," says Indhuja who recalls his style of working. "Karthik sir would ask him if they needed to rehearse once, and he'd say, 'We'll go ahead and ethavathu seri illena, one more kekka poringa.' He would then ace the shots in single takes. I'm glad that I got to learn from him from such close quarters."
Among her upcoming projects are Billa Pandi, Boomerang and a film with Udhayanidhi Stalin. "I play a village girl in Billa Pandi," she says. In Boomerang, she plays a role that's "related to agriculture. We're yet to complete it." The film with Udhayanadhi, meanwhile, is a rom-com in which she'll reunite with her first film Meyaadha Maan's co-star Priya Bhavani Shankar. "It's a wonderful cast. Apart from the leads, there's also Karthik sir and Jayaram sir. I can assure that it'll be a terrific entertainer."