Aishwarya Rajesh: I wish Suzhal released in theatres
The actor and her co-star Sriya Reddy speak about their acclaimed performances in the new Amazon Prime Video original, Suzhal
Aishwarya Rajesh and Sriya Reddy have plenty of reasons to smile. Their debut web series, Suzhal, has been generating plenty of buzz, and so have their respective characters: a strong-willed sister called Nandhini and a cop with grey shades called Regina. Though they have made their OTT debut together with Suzhal, they have different opinions on the whole theatre vs OTT debate. While Aishwarya calls herself the biggest fan of the theatre experience, Sriya believes that OTT platforms are more practical. "I would hate to watch films like RRR, Baahubali or any Rajini sir film at home first. It is a high to catch these films on the big screen," says Aishwarya. Sriya points out that she saw RRR, in fact, on her TV. "Of course, I didn't get the joy of community viewing but I was glad about enjoying it in the comfort of my home. Going to a theatre involves a lot of logistics and planning."
Incidentally, the shooting of their web series, Suzhal, was halted several times due to COVID-related issues, and the actors had to stay in character for longer than they anticipated. Both Aishwarya and Sriya share that it was not as hard as they imagined it would be. "I could relate to my character, Regina, a lot. She’s a carbon copy of who I am. So, it didn’t take me more effort to play this character over a longer period," says Sriya. Aishwarya, meanwhile, says she doesn’t let any of her characters consume her. "I have been shooting for various projects simultaneously; so, I can’t allow any character to really get into my head, especially after the shoot. At the same time, the pandemic was a good training exercise that helped me hop in and out of characters."
Aishwarya wishes that Suzhal had come out in theatres. "I saw the audience in tears when I caught the festival screening of Ka Pae Ranasingam. I have always felt that it should have been a theatre-first film. Just like that, Suzhal too should have been a theatre release. Every episode has at least three to four moments, which would have been celebrated by the masses." Sriya understands but believes that OTT has its charm too. "Digital release is an effective alternative and it is high time we embraced it. People must stop associating web series with mediocre, lazy content. Series like Mirzapur, Paatal Lok and The Family Man re-wrote this rule in the North; Suzhal will bring a similar change in the mindset of the Tamil audience."
The fascinatingly conflicting positions of both actors continues with the next question too. Asked if the OTT platforms have enabled actors to experiment with their roles—like the kind of characters they play in Suzhal—Aishwarya says, "It has always been the choice of actors to pick the roles they want. I don't see it as a problem of the medium. I declined to play the antagonist in Adhey Kangal, fearing that I would be typecast. But I regret that choice." Sriya, on the other hand, believes that only creative and bold writing choices can give rise to interesting roles, not the choice of actors themselves. "Directors and writers have to write out-of-the-box roles to make the job interesting for the actors. Hypothetically, if I had to direct Aishwarya, I would design her character in a way that is completely in contrast to her previous work."
Sriya ends the brief conversation by hoping that this is the beginning of more promising Tamil content for the television. “I am confident because Suzhal has been made with the budget and effort that is on par with any major star's film.”