Priya Anand on Kootathil Oruthan, Fukrey Returns and getting out of her comfort zone
It’s been a fabulous year so far for Priya Anand, who has two blockbusters –Ezra and Raajakumara - to her credit, and the success of these films couldn’t have come at a better time for the English Vinglish actress.
Talking about the current phase of her career, a jubilant Priya says, “I did these movies for different reasons and I’m glad they turned out to be successful. I’m happy for the producers. In hindsight, it was really exciting being part of the projects where I got the opportunity to do something different and enjoy myself in the process.”
Ask her if 2017 could be termed as the best year of her career, pat comes the reply. “I don’t think so. Agreed, I tasted back-to-back hits but success, most of the times, depends on what you want at that point in time. Regardless of the result, I want to be part of films that challenge me and push me out of my comfort zone.”
She says she wants to surprise audiences with different kind of roles. “I don’t want to get too comfortable doing something. I love to be part of projects where I'm insecure about myself as an artiste and wonder if I'd be able to do a certain role. Audiences know what to expect when they see my name on screen. I want to surprise them by doing something totally unexpected,” she explains.
Priya admits Malayalam film Ezra, a horror-thriller set against a Jewish backdrop, challenged her.
“Malayalam industry is very progressive, both in terms of storytelling and even technically. I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project and it was equally challenging because it was a new industry and language. I had to think about my shots before going for the shoot. This is the kind of excitement that keeps me motivated,” she says. The film, directed by debutant Jay Krishnan, turned out to be a money-spinner at the box-office.
However, there’s no guarantee for such glorious roles to keep coming a heroine’s way, and Priya nods in agreement.
“I’m well aware of it. But I’m a pan-Indian actor and I have worked in five industries so far. I’ve played characters from all walks of life and I believe there is so much more to explore. I always keep my options open and I’m willing to experiment, given the opportunity," she informs, adding, “I followed up Ezra with my first Kannada film Raajakumara, and I did that film knowing it was an out-and-out commercial one. In the last year or two, the Kannada industry has truly changed, thanks to some new-age filmmakers and films such as U-Turn and Lucia. I thought this was the best time to enter the industry and leave a mark. Raajakumara also gave me the opportunity to team up with one of the biggest stars, Puneeth Rajkumar, and I couldn’t have asked for a better launch,” she said.
In between Ezra and Raajakumara, Priya had a Tamil release called Muthuramalingam, a rural drama about valour and good deeds. After much delay, the film hit the screens earlier this year and was heavily panned by critics and audiences alike. Despite the film’s poor show, Priya did have her own reasons to be part of the project.
“2017 has been about doing things I don’t usually do in films. In Muthuramalingam, I played a village belle for the first time and I also learnt Silambam (the ancient form of martial arts with a bamboo stick)," she informs, adding, "When we started shooting, I wondered who really cares about Silambam. It was not until we reached the interiors of Pollachi and Theni, did I realise its importance in their lives. Children in these villages still practice Silambam with passion and conviction, and it was really nice to see people still hold on to their culture and tradition.”
Priya’s fourth release of the year is the Tamil film Kootathil Oruthan (which releases on Friday), a moving story about an average Joe. Unlike Ezra and Raajakumara, this film doesn’t feature a star hero. Then what excited her about the project?
“This is the story about the underachiever. We always talk about underdogs and successful people. Nobody really wants to talk about people in between. Nobody wants to talk about the middle benchers in college. It’s this story of an average person that really got me excited, and I’m sure audiences will easily relate,” she explained.
Talking about Fukrey Returns, which might hit the screens later this year, Priya said she is asked about it wherever she goes. “It’s going to be a fun film. There will be this crazy wedding song, on the lines of the popular 'Ambarsariya' from the first part,” she signs off.