Priya Anand on Kayamkulam Kochunni: Audience will be transported into a never-seen-before world
Priya Anand tallks about the delay in the release of Kayamkulam Kochunni, and working with superstars Mohanlal and Nivin Pauly.
Priya Anand’s longtime desire to work in a period film has been fulfilled via this week’s highly anticipated Malayalam release Kayamkulam Kochunni, which stars Nivin Pauly as the famed highwayman Kochunni, which will bring on screen the life of Kerala’s most wanted thief, who was active in central Travancore during the 19th century. The film also stars superstar Mohanlal in a cameo. In this exclusive chat with Firstpost, Priya talks about the experience of being part of Malayalam filmdom’s most expensive film and why she believes the industry is far more progressive.
The Rosshan Andrrews directed film was originally slated for release in August. However, it was postponed owing to the recent floods in Kerala. As much as she is excited, Priya admits it has been a long wait for the release. “It’s been a long wait not just for the release but for the whole movie to get finished. The scale on which it was being made demanded lot of time. All of us worked with immense patience to fulfill Rosshan’s vision. Now it’s for the audiences to watch and celebrate the film,” Priya says, adding that the delayed release should not affect the film’s prospects at the box office. “I believe every movie has its time and it comes out when it has to come out. Nobody can do anything about it. We couldn’t release the film in August at the time of suffering. That was the right thing to do.”
Recalling what drew her to the project, she says, “I had met Roshan a long time ago and we were supposed to work together but things somehow didn’t materialise. He went ahead and started working on this film. He called me again and asked if I’d be interested to be part of this project. I had actually signed a few projects in Kannada but I had to back out to accept Kochunni. It’s such an amazing project and it’s been my dream to work on a period film because everything is so different about it.” Elaborating more, she said, “Even though it’s a story about a larger-than-life character, the treatment is very realistic and that’s something I really love about Malayalam cinema.”
Priya’s character played a pivotal role in the life of Kochunni. While she remains tight-lipped about her character, she cannot stop gushing about her look in the film which she found quite funny at first. “On the first day of the shoot, when I walked out of my caravan and realised I was the only woman on set, I felt silly walking around in my costume. I’ve always seen myself in western outfits or half-sari but this was the first time I was trying a period look and the experience was funny. It was after two schedules when we started shooting market scenes, there were hundreds of women and that’s when I really felt comfortable.”
Asked if she ever felt overshadowed by her co-stars Nivin Pauly and Mohanlal while being part of a project of this scale, she says, “There’s no way I can compete with Mohanlal sir or Nivin. They’re definitely bigger stars and there’s no denying it. This is the kind of film where each character is important from the story’s perspective and it’ll only work when each character is good and believable otherwise audiences can’t connect and enjoy the film. I believe when audiences see the film, they’ll only see our characters and not the actors who’ve played them. If you see Nivin, you’ll only see Kochunni.”
From the sets of huge villages, town and markets to spectacular action sequences, Priya said audiences will be sucked into a never-seen-before world while watching Kayamkulam Kochunni. “The effort that has gone into creating the period set up is unbelievable. Every time I’d step out of my caravan for shoot, I’d feel like I’m entering a new world. A lot of people in Kerala have grown up listening to the stories of Kochunni and for them this film will be extra special.”
Priya did not have to prepare to essay her character. “The best thing about working in a Malayalam film is that the characters are so real, one need not really have to try and get into the world. They’re so real. You can immediately connect with them. Although the story is set in 19th century, everything my character goes through happens even today. It was easier for me to connect. The challenging part was picking up the language, the dialect to be precise, because it’s a period film,” she said, adding that it is not that difficult when you work with a director like Roshan, who really knows what he wants.
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