Priya Bhavani Shankar and Arthana Binu: The jilted lovers of Kadaikutty Singam
With Karthi's Kadaikutty Singam releasing to largely positive reviews, the two actors talk to us about what it was to be part of such a huge cast
It's not every day that we get a film with three prominent heroines, especially one in which the three play characters with a sense of purpose. While Sayyeshaa got the heroine honours, both Priya Bhavani Shankar and Arthana Binu impressed with their roles as the protagonist's nieces, Poonkuzhali Chellama and Aandal Priyadarshini respectively. Despite both having done lead roles in Tamil films - Priya in Meyaadha Maan and Arthana in Semma and Thondan - they didn't at all seem to have minded relinquishing lead duties. We engage with the actors in this tete-a-tete, as they discuss the film and their respective characters:
How has the reception been?
Priya Bhavani Shankar: We knew the film would be successful even before we went for the shoot. It's not often you see a film with so many artists wrapped up in less than 90 days. It has also been a different experience because in TV serials, it's the heroines who faces all the hurdles and problems, but here, it's the hero.
Arthana Binu: After the release of each of my films, I feel I could have done better, but for the first time I'm content with what I've done. I loved the character so much that I'm still hungover on it.
How did the film happen?
Priya: Interestingly, Pandiraj sir hadn't seen Meyaadha Maan before calling me. He had seen my interviews for that film on YouTube and felt that my looks would suit the role.
Arthana: Pandiraj sir had produced and written dialogues for my previous film, Semma. Even before that film's release, I got a call from his office and learned about Kadaikutty Singam, and also that it was being produced by Suriya sir. I had to do a look test and was asked to perform two lengthy dialogues following which I was chosen.
Tell us about working with such a huge cast.
Priya: It was a wonderful experience to work with a team from which there are loads to learn. Despite being veterans, Sathyaraj sir, Bhanupriya mam and Viji amma were very humble. During shooting, they shared a lot of their experiences in the industry. At the beginning, I had inhibitions of working with a film with such a huge cast, and that too after my first film. It's not easy to break the wall between TV and films but now that I'd done that with Meyaadha Maan, I was worried about doing a multi-starrer. But I loved how Pandiraj sir didn't consider the roles as leads but as characters. I have a couple of scenes to score and I get a good amount of screen space in the second half.
Arthana: In every frame, there will be a lot of people which is completely different from the films I've done so far. Seeing the senior actors act is a boon. When they emote for a scene, I automatically respond to it. That's not acting but more of a reaction to what they say and in some scenes where I'm supposed to cry, seeing them emote their characters so well automatically made me spill tears.
How was the experience of doing a film with Karthi?
Priya: We had loads to talk as we're from the same college -- he's my super senior. We also discussed his days as an assistant director. Moreover, apart from films, we also spoke about politics and Nadigar Sangam. He's a very knowledgeable and jovial person.
Arthana: He's a dedicated actor and his growth has been phenomenal. I saw him for the first time during the look test and I got worried about working with such a huge actor. But he broke ice during our first interaction and he also appreciated me whenever he liked what I did in a particular scene. He's very vigilant on the sets as he keeps a tab on our performances as well and not just his.
Kadaikutty Singam is about a large family. Could you relate to it?
Priya: Of course I could because my mother had four sisters and a brother. I often joke to my mother and aunts about the plight of my uncle. My entire family, including my grandfather who had never watched a film in 20 years, went to the theatre to watch this film. Though our family didn't have as much drama as the one in the film (laughs), every family will have its own set of good and bad moments which we were able to relate with.
Arthana: I have similarities as well as dissimilarities to the role I played. I'm very attached to my family and that affection and family bonding is something I could relate to despite not being in a joint family. Though it's a rural subject, the emotions are the same everywhere. Even in scenes where I talk with my uncles, I was imagining my actual ones on the spot.
What's cooking next?
Priya: I've got two projects coming up, but I feel it would be better if the respective production houses announce them.
Arthana: I've got Vennila Kabaddi Kuzhu 2 which is in post-production, and there's one in which I'm collaborating with Vikranth once again after Thondan. I've been doing village roles continuously; so I hope to at least get promoted to a churidar (laughs).