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Maria Ryaboshapka:- Cinema express

Maria Ryaboshapka: I like Anudeep's humour in Prince because it is funny yet sensitive

The actor who rose to fame with Prince, speaks about how she came on board, prepping for the role, Anudeep's humour and more

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Published: 14th November 2022
Maria Ryaboshapka

Maria Ryaboshapka, the Ukrainian actor, was widely appreciated for the fine portrayal of a British woman named Jessica and her delightful dance performance in the Siva Karthikeyan-starrer Prince. The actor notes that she chose Prince to debut in Indian films over other projects that came her way, and she also hails Anudeep for nailing funny yet sensitive humour. While the romantic-comedy film subtly touches upon concerns like the ongoing Ukraine war and how love and humanity transcend differences, Maria also hopes that through her art, she could help people of her homeland in healing.

Excerpts

How did you come on board Prince?

I think the makers chanced upon me after watching my first Hindi web series Special Ops 1.5, filmed in Ukraine. I received many messages and project offers from India subsequently. I liked Anudeep's directorial Prince, amongst all. So I followed up with them and took the auditions. I'm glad I passed it.

Belonging to an entirely different language, geography and culture, how did you prepare for your role in Prince? 

It was exciting to prepare for this role. I'm a person who loves to try and learn new things. After Special OPS 1.5, I wanted to work in India. So I tried to understand more about the country's religions, culture and history.

Noticing everything around me keenly in India helped me comprehend the environment better. Besides that, talking to a lot of people gave me a new perspective on the country. 

Initially, everything here was a pleasant culture shock for me. But slowly I learnt to embrace it. I love India's diverse cultures, food variety, temples, clothing, environment, cinema and more. Mainly, I love the Tamil language. I want to learn it and record a song in Tamil. That would be cool!

Prince is about two people who fight for their love against socially constructed differences and prejudice. How were you able to resonate with the idea? 

According to me, the social subtext of this film is equality and freedom of rights. I think it is sad and painful when people are judged for their nationality, skin colour, weight, gender, profession, money and appearance. We have to ensure that everyone could live their life to the fullest. I hope a day comes when there is no suffering in the world.

How did you like Anudeep's trademark zany humour in Prince?

I enjoy director Anudeep's sense of humour because it doesn't hurt anyone or try to force a viewpoint on the audience. His jokes are funny and at the same time sensitive and sensible, as it doesn't evoke laughter at the cost of offending others.

Your homeland, Ukraine, was under the clouds of war while you were working on Prince. How did you manage to find the courage and spirit to continue to work? 

I was afraid for my loved ones in Ukraine. I had to keep calling to check on them and hope they were still alive. The situation was so miserable.

Do you believe art can help in healing and spreading hope in such dire times?

During this journey of filming for Prince, my thought process changed. I no longer think primarily about myself as I once did. I can sense that I am being more caring and empathetic towards the ones in suffering. If I can help them through art, there can be nothing like it. In general, an opportunity to change everything for the better makes me happy these days. 

Tell us about your initial exposure to Indian cinema. 

Even before I started watching Indian films, I was attracted by the audiences' reactions at the theatres. Their energy is incredible. Eventually, I developed my interest towards Indian cinema. I've seen a lot of Indian movies, but if I had to pick just one, it would be Three Idiots. That impressed me a lot.

How do you see your journey in Indian cinema so far?

I am very grateful and happy for the recognition and love. Through the last two projects, I had the opportunity to showcase the Indian culture to my people in Ukraine. I think such prospects will lead to more cross-culture art. I think this is very important.

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