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When the director says action, magic ensues: Kalyani Priyadarshan- Cinema express

Kalyani Priyadarshan: When the director says action, magic ensues

The actor speaks about being a part of the ambitious Amazon Prime anthology, Putham Pudhu Kaalai

Published: 11th October 2020

Kalyani Priyadarshan wears a big smile as we exchange greetings. The actor, who debuted in Tamil with Hero, is quite excited about Putham Pudhu Kaalai, and the prospect of returning to the sets of Venkat Prabhu’s Maanaadu. In the Amazon Prime anthology, she stars alongside Kalidas Jayaram in Sudha Kongara’s short film, Ilamai Idho Idho. She begins by evincing pride about having worked with Sudha, a filmmaker in her bucket list. “I’m lucky I got this opportunity this early in my career. Sudha ma’am is one of the most organised directors that I have met, and it was refreshing to work with her. She gave us rehearsals and readings, and it was a great experience to work with an actor’s director.”

Sudha’s film, Irudhi Suttru, was known for its strong female protagonist. It’s not too different with this short, says Kalyani. “The character I play has a lot of strength and is not a typical heroine. Sudha ma’am will never write a cliché woman. She is someone who likes to write raw, unique characters.”

The actor who plays the male lead, Kalidas Jayaram, is a familiar face to Kalyani. “We bonded over our love for cinema. He is one of the most talented actors out there with so much potential.” The short also features senior actors like Jayaram and Urvashi in important roles, but Kalyani missed out on the opportunity of working with them due to the restrictions imposed on account of the lockdown. The restrictions also resulted in actors having to take up roles they perhaps otherwise wouldn’t. Kalyani, for instance, has tried her hand at dubbing for this film. “It was strange because it was my first dubbing experience and I realised that no matter how good you are at emoting, it doesn’t always translate into the dubbing studio. However, having seen the final output, I can assure you that it has come out really well.”

The actor had no hesitation in accepting this short film. “The story was great, the crew was great, and it was a challenging shoot as well because, in many ways, it was shot like a student film. This challenge was fodder for my enthusiasm.”

Kalyani, who has experience as an assistant production designer and an assistant art director, is careful not to interfere with other work when she’s on the sets as an actor. “I have realised that calmness is an important quality to have on the sets as an actor. Sometimes, when I see the production design, it’s natural to feel like I should also help, but then, I remember that it will likely drain me out.”

Kalyani expresses relief about the impending resumption of Maanaadu’s shooting, and shares that she also has films like Hridayam and Marakkar lined up. “Maanaadu cast and crew is a fun team to work with. So, I can’t wait to return to that set.”  

The actor said in an interview that after getting to see fake blood as a child, it became quite difficult for onscreen bloodshed to impact her emotionally. I ask if this familiarity with the tools and tricks of cinema sometimes impacts the immersion of actors on the sets. “There’s a transformation that happens between action and cut. When a director says action, everything changes; you forget that everything around you is fake. You need to figure out a way to make yourself believe that it is all real. When the director says action, magic ensues.”

Perhaps that’s why the actor has insisted that the audience focus on the final film experience than worry about the process that went behind creating it. “I understand that as artists, we are prone to consuming films like that. And yet, good films do help you forget the truth that they are manufactured. Audiences though would do well to consume only the cinematic experience, and not spoil their immersion by being too curious about the process of it all.”

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