Nithya Menen on her character in Awe!: 'Prasanth Varma believed I could pull off this role'
Right from the time Nithya Menen made her debut in Telugu cinema with Ala Modalaindhi back in 2011, more than the range of her choices, what made her more endearing was the depth and empathy she brought to the characters she played. In an industry that is obsessed with glamour, Nithya has carved a niche for herself and earned immense respect from her peers.
“(Kiccha) Sudeep once said, in an interview, ‘We are all long, but she’s tall’,” Nithya laughs, referring to herself, recounting an incident which happened a few years ago. It is the respect she has earned for her performances in south Indian movies that has led several directors to approach her to play challenging roles. No wonder, Prasanth Varma, the director of Awe!, could not think of anyone else to play Krish, aka Krishnaveni, a psychiatrist, in his genre-bending film.
In the beginning of Awe!, Prasanth introduces us to Meera (Eesha) and her parents, played by CVL Narasimha Rao and Rohini, as they wait to meet Meera’s boyfriend Krish at a restaurant. A few anxious moments later, Meera introduces them to Krish much to her parents’ dismay. They find it hard to come to terms with the fact that their daughter is in a relationship with another woman. “It was my first shot in the film too and there was complete silence and discomfort in the crew when I walked in,” Nithya smiles recounting the incident. Maybe it is how the character was written or maybe it was just Nithya playing it cool that made Krish as normal as she comes across in the film, without any trace of stereotypes in terms of body language that is associated with such characters.
Nithya says, “I kind of related my character in the film with that of Lord Krishna; it was my interpretation. Krishna is someone who knows everything; He is completely stable; breezes through life playfully. I wanted to be like that in the film, someone who’s very chill, nothing-hits-her-too-hard kind of a person. For that, I had to internalise the experience and bring it out me. It was completely my experiential knowledge and that was something that I had to struggle with for a bit. I didn’t have a plan about how to do it, and right when the cameras was about to roll, I just went with the flow and tried to do justice to the character.”
For a while now, the actress has been vocal about how she has only been able to barely scratch the surface of what she can do in her performances. So, is Awe! the kind of film that satiates her desire to be part of something new? “Well, it’s definitely a big change from what we are used to, isn’t it? Someone has to start from somewhere. Many years ago, Prasanth had pitched another story and I was really impressed with his ideas. Unfortunately, that film didn’t take off back then. But when he came back to me with Awe!, I knew he had some out-of-the-box ideas and I wanted to stand by him,” she says, adding, “Besides, most people tend to keep one image of you in their mind, they stick to it, and they’ll only offer you those roles. It’s basically that of a quintessential heroine who’s bubbly, pretty, and feminine. That image doesn’t do complete justice to who I’m. It’s very incomplete. There’s one side of mine which is feminine, but there are a lot of other sides to me. Prasanth had complete conviction in me right from the moment he pitched the story to me. I could see that he could see that I had it in me to pull this character off, and that’s what made me not think twice about the role.”
In early March, the actress will start shooting for TK Rajeev Kumar’s upcoming Malayalam film and she can barely hide her excitement about what they are planning to do. “It’s too early to talk about the film, but let me just say that this is the kind of film that I’ve been waiting for a long time now,” Nithya says. “I love being part of films which make people happy, but I can’t stick to just that all the time. If there’s something that I seriously want people to see, then I’ll do that too. But then, here’s the thing — films don’t necessarily have to be serious to drive a point home. You can still create a profound impact with simple stories.”
Another film that she is quite excited about is VK Prakash’s multi-lingual film Praana, in which she has plays a writer. The whole story revolves around just her character which has turned out to be the film’s USP ever since details about the film emerged late last year. “It’s about a writer who’s trying to get rid of the blind beliefs that people have and help them to do something good for the society. Writers can’t always say what they want to because every new idea faces some opposition or another. It talks about things like that. Praana was particularly challenging because we were doing it in four languages back to back and that too in sync sound. Acting in bilingual films is a pain and when you are doing the same scene with dialogues four different times, you get saturated. I was also actively involved in the writing process because I wanted the depth and beauty in the original script to come through in every language. We couldn’t find anyone who knew all the four languages. So, I was trying to bridge the gap. For me, it was a round the clock job. When I wasn’t acting, I was sitting and writing,” Nithya signs off.
Updated Date: Mar 07, 2018 10:16 AM