Every character should feel real to me: Parvathy
The actor talks about her this week's release, Uyare, which has her playing an acid attack survivor
An actor who, in a span of 13 years, has managed to build a track record second to none, Parvathy Thiruvoth needs no introduction. A role model for many, she continues to impress her fans with her versatility, steadfast loyalty to her work and her outspoken nature. Though some of her statements created a furore a couple of years back, the resulting hostility from a few corners did nothing to deter her spirit.
The National award winner has more than two films awaiting release this year, among which are Uyare, Virus, and Varthamaanam. Uyare, which has Parvathy playing an acid attack survivor, also stars Asif Ali and Tovino Thomas. The film is hitting theatres tomorrow.
Is Uyare based on real-life characters?
Yes. Though we have framed them inside a fictional space, whatever we have addressed in this film is based on things we have seen happen in society. In addition to being a story about an acid attack survivor, it also talks about and dissects the nature of relationships — what healthy relationships and friendships are supposed to be.
Do you have the habit of developing a backstory for your characters?
It’s a process I’ve always followed, and it’s executed depending on a writer or director’s filmmaking style. Some directors and writers require you to follow the script and some others give you the basic crux of a scene and ask you to do it. But I have my own method of shaping my characters and it’s done through conversations with the writers or directors. I also try to communicate with my co-actors, to get an idea of what their perspectives about their characters are and how they think and make decisions so that I can get a clear picture of things that are both implicit and explicit. It makes it easy for me to internalise the character. It should feel real to me and if I’m describing my character to someone, I should be able to talk about that person as if I’m describing a friend—their beliefs, their opinions, their choices, likes and dislikes, the types of food they eat, the clothes they wear, etc.
Do you constantly communicate with scriptwriters while you’re shooting?
Yes, and I’ve been told I can be a pain. I’m a chronic overthinker. I don’t see it as a bad thing. I wouldn’t hesitate to ask a question even if it’s a foolish one because it’s a constant investigative process. I never had a chance to go to film school. Though my first film was Out of Syllabus, it was my second film, Notebook that really introduced me to the craft of acting. Notebook gave me a deeper understanding of the acting process. For that film, all of us had to be part of an acting workshop. I come from a family where watching movies was not a regular affair. Going to the theatre, that is. After Notebook, I have been studying cinema by reading books and watching movies from all over the world and what actors from other countries are coming up with. I’m always learning.
In movies that are high on emotion, is it a challenge to recreate the same intensity in the dubbing stage?
It used to be a huge challenge at one point because dubbing can be a nerve-wracking process. I’ve always believed that doing the scene in front of the camera, in real time, was the best approach. But then I figured out a way to use dubbing to my advantage. I no longer fear it because you can do certain things or go in a different direction that you didn’t think of while shooting. You may give a good performance on set but there is a chance of improving that in the dubbing room too.
Is it true that you only need a few takes?
No, I’m notorious when it comes to takes. I don’t have the habit of checking that day’s footage unless I feel my performance is slightly off. Or if the director insists I watch that take. It doesn’t help me to watch myself on screen. However, I do make exceptions when I and my co-actors have all performed brilliantly at the same time. In Uyare, there are such scenes with Tovino and Asif.
Do you shoot your scenes in the order they’re written in?
More often than not, a film is shot non-chronologically. One has to keep in mind the production cost, actors’ dates, etc. For e.g, in Take Off, the first scene I shot was my character’s initial encounter with Fahadh’s character. I was very nervous as I had no clue how to go about it. The only way is to choose to trust the team and the homework. Physical continuity is easy; emotional continuity is not.
You were away from social media for a few months.
I had to take a break because I was shooting two films back to back — Uyare and Virus. Invisibility can be so comforting, and it helped me fully focus on the work and deliver well for those 20 plus hour work days.
How did you handle all those negative comments?
You develop a thick skin. Simple as that. I believe that if you’re deeply committed to your passion and direct all your focus on that, nothing can affect you.