I did everything I could do for the role: Ivana
The young actor opens up about her Tamil debut Naachiyaar and on how she's balancing academics with acting
The first thing you notice about Ivana (born Aleena Shaji) are her gleaming eyes, smile and innocence. The class twelve student, who made a powerful debut with Bala's Naachiyaar, says she's totally different from Arasi (her role in the film). "I talk a lot," she cautions me before I begin the interview.
She quickly adds, "I can't believe all this happened. I'll always be grateful to Bala sir. Ivlo attention irukum nu edhir paarkala. I am a bit nervous because I have my board exams next month. Be it friends or family members, everyone has been quite supportive. They circulate notes on WhatsApp, and I also had extra coaching classes from my teachers."
Ivana did three films in Malayalam -- Masters, Rani Padmini and Anuraga Karikkin Vellam. "There was some write-up about me, and Bala sir found it online. That's how I was approached for Naachiyaar. My parents listened to the script, and gave me confidence to pursue the opportunity," she says.
The young actor was a bit apprehensive after Bala said her character would be pregnant in the film. "Most heroines would dream of glamorous roles and wearing nice costumes, but I was asked to be in a simple paavadai and shirt. No, I am not complaining, but I did everything I could do for the role. Also, it was difficult to walk around with an artificial-padded pregnant belly," she smiles.
Ivana wasn't serious about films initially, but after Naachiyaar, she says she wants to do more performance-oriented roles. "I am open to doing both Tamil and Malayalam films, but Tamil will be my priority," she says.
Speaking about Bala, she tells us, "He's a disciplinarian and doesn't get satisfied with scenes easily. He wants everything to be perfect. At the same time, he's caring too. I was amazed by his determination on the sets. He constantly improvises a scene. He teaches his actors how to act, and it's better for us if we listen to him. Konjam bayama irundudhu, but I took it easy."
Ivana feels her Tamil is much better now. "I had an RJ train me in the language. I used to get the dialogues the previous day and rehearse. Acting is more about being expressive, reacting and emoting. Though I struggle to speak, I can manage," she laughs.
She's all praise for Jyotika and her co-star, GV Prakash. "I am a huge fan of Jyotika ma'am since Kushi days. When I was required to cry in a scene, she empathised with me. That's a nice thing about her. Prakash helped me translate my dialogues into English. He was encouraging too," she says.
Though Ivana wants to become a Chartered Accountant, she says she also wants to act and become like "Nayanthara or Nazriya."