Gayathrie and Parvatii Nair: The Ranis of Vella Raja
The female leads of Amazon Prime’s first Tamil original Vella Raja, open up about their roles in the series and journey ahead in the industry
This has been an interesting year for the Tamil film industry. There’s been the introduction of new technologies like 4D sound, successful box-office numbers, and an exceptional line-up of films in the second half of the year. And now, with the significant additions to the Tamil web series space, Kollywood is showing signs of wholesome growth in all sectors. The newest addition to the web series space is Vella Raja, the first Tamil Amazon Prime Original series, starring Bobby Simha, Parvatii Nair and Gayathrie, all actors who have already earned their space in the silver screen.
Director Guhan Senniappan, who made his debut in 2016’s Sawari, has featured both the show’s female leads in characters they’ve never played before. Parvatii Nair of Yennai Arindhaal fame plays a cop for the first time, while Gayathrie, Kollywood’s girl-next-door, stars as a advocate.
Asked if they were apprehensive about moving to a new platform, Parvatii says, “I don’t see it as a shift; all of us are working on films simultaneously. Still, it’s an experiment because we don’t know what the response will be and how many people are going to watch it. With everyone owning a mobile phone these days, I’m hopeful for a good reception.” Gayathrie echoes Parvatii’s view and says the reach of web series is wider than that of theatrical releases. “Such online series have better shelf life and reach than films. When a film releases theatrically, the screen count is limited, but on such a platform, it will be there for many decades, and people all over the world can watch it over and over again.”
Though both actors appear in new avatars in the series, they were offered their roles without auditions. Parvatii feels Vella Raja’s Teresa is her best role till date. “Contrary to all my previous roles, Teresa is not girly. She is a tough CBI officer.”
The actor adds that she loved doing the stunt sequences on her own. “I actually wanted to do more action in Vella Raja. I completely enjoyed doing the stunts and I think I’m really good at it as I am flexible and athletic.”
Gayathrie, on the other hand, says, “I am the Karuppu Rani of Vella Raja. I get bored easily, so I like to keep reinventing myself. This is my first suspense thriller. My character Adhira is a stubborn advocate who fights for an environmental cause.”
Parvatii, who had a bright start to 2018 with Nimir, and followed it with Neerali, alongside Mohanlal, says her best year is yet to come. “To be appreciated as an actor, one should either work on important roles in a lot of films or play the lead. I guess I’ve followed the first so far and earned myself a position to move to the second now. From now on, you’ll see mainly see me playing the leads,” she says. About her next big project, Minnal Veeran, alongside Atharvaa, she adds, “The film has an interesting fantasy element and I play a college-going girl.”
Interestingly, Gayathrie, who has been in front of the camera for six years, has worked as an assistant director on Vijay Sethupathi’s Seethakaathi, apart from acting in it. “I always think in terms of visuals. I wanted to work on this area and I got bored sitting in the caravan all day long as a heroine, that’s why I started working as an AD in Seethakaathi. I have to admit that being an AD is fun.” The actor, who has two projects going on floors this month, aims to continue as an AD whenever possible. “I’ve already heard a one line from 96-director Prem Kumar and I really loved it. So I’ve asked him to take me on as an AD even if there isn’t an apt role for me in the film.” Gayathrie recently won an award at the India Film Project 2018 for directing a short film. Asked if we can expect a feature film from her soon, she says, “I don’t want to make feature films; it is too tedious. I just want to translate my vision into media, and being an AD and working on my own short films keep the creator in me happy.”
(Vella Raja is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.)