I implicitly trust Ranjith sir to write strong women: Dushara Vijayan

The actor opens up about Natchathiram Nagargiradhu, her sophomore collaboration with Pa Ranjith, and her ideas about love
I implicitly trust Ranjith sir to write strong women: Dushara Vijayan

Cinema can and has been discriminative in its presentation of women, with even established names often having to do insignificant roles. Even this early in her career, however, Dushara Vijayan has already been able to earn a name with her noteworthy performance as Mariamma in Pa Ranjith’s Sarpatta Parambarai. As she reunites with the filmmaker again for his upcoming Natchathiram Nagargiradhu, Dushara talks about all the anticipation around the release, and shares insights about her character as well.

“I used to wonder why my face would not appear in posters despite my involvement in certain projects. Now, I've realised that it's the importance of the character that determines whether I make it to the poster. I'm grateful to Ranjith sir for this responsibility,” she says.

Hailing from the small town of Kanyakumari, the model-turned-actor is happy to be an example for those who dream of making it big in acting. She believes that unlike the modeling industry where looks take the front seat, in cinema, it is the talent. “I believe in respect, even with my family who must respect the kind of money I earn or how I spend my time. My passion and love for cinema has brought me here. I did not let rejection and humiliation I faced, affect me.”

Set against a theatre backdrop, Natchathiram Nagargiradhu sees Dushara playing Rene, a bold woman who wears her heart on her sleeve. Just like how North Chennai women trained Dushara to play Mariamma, a troupe called Indianostrum trained her to be Rene. Rene, she says, is very different from the fierce Mariamma. “I was curious to know why Ranjith sir had cast me again and he said how it is only because of how I played Mariamma,” the actor says.

The actor apparently develops mannerisms and variations for her characters even when reading a script. Dushara explains, “I imagine a certain type of behaviour and suggest. Directors have been open and given me the freedom to perform.” At the same time, Dushara is also careful that her inputs not get in the way of the story. “In the case of Ranjith sir’s films, I have acted without knowing the story, because I know his women characters will be strong."

Dushara is drawn by characters and wishes to do a biopic someday. Fascinated by personalities like J Jayalalitha and Rani Mangamma, Dushara hopes to have this dream come true some day. “Jayalalithaa is fierce and strong, and I wish to tell her story better. Biopics educate you,” Dushara says.

Working with Ranjith has helped her evolved as a person. A video that introduced the characters of the film talks about how love is a political exercise. At the same time, the actor clarifies that Natchathiram Nagargiradhu does not talk only about different types of love, from heterosexual to queer relationships, but also about the caste politics involved in the idea of romance.

“As many would say it is about mutual respect, understanding and so on. I am unable to encapsulate what love is within a definition. Love is all about that mutual feeling two people cherish. Love is something that gives happiness and it is about liking somebody beyond their imperfections,” she says.

With both Sarpatta Parambarai and Natchathiram Nagargiradhu having multiple important characters, Dushara feels that such sets foster a healthy environment and long-lasting friendships. "People like Arya sir and Anupama ma'am have referred various opportunities. In the case of Natchathiram Nagargiradhu, we were a younger lot with lots to learn, discuss and evolve.”

Though she's excited about Natchathiram Nagargiradhu, Dushara maintains that Sarpatta Parambarai was a defining point in her career. “My life changed after Mariamma, and Ranjith sir has trusted me with another chance. I believe that this journey will continue and that Rene will be talked about as much as Mariamma was.”

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