Samyuktha Menon on Prasobh Vijayan's Lilli: Role changed me as an actor; feel empowered now
If the trailer of Prasobh Vijayan’s Malayalam revenge drama Lilli – where a pregnant woman is kidnapped and seen fighting for survival – didn’t send chills down your spine, the film probably will. In an exclusive chat with Firstpost, the film’s leading lady, Samyuktha Menon, who plays the titular character, opens up about the harrowing experience and challenges of playing a character with physical limitations.
Fresh off the success of Theevandi, Samyuktha recalls that it was director Prasobh’s conviction that drew her to the project. “I’m an accidental actor. I was never really interested in acting until a photographer stumbled upon my pictures on Facebook and thought I would make a good cover model. One thing lead to another and acting offers started coming. Now, I’ve started enjoying the process of acting. When the offer of Lilli came to me, I was interested in it. Prasobh was quite convinced that I would be able to pull off this role. When I asked him what made him so sure, he said he could see emotions change on my face when he was narrating. That convinced him that I’d be perfect fit for the role.”
Playing Lilli wasn’t an easy experience, admits Samyuktha. “As a character, it was physically as well as mentally taxing. Playing a pregnant woman comes with its set of challenges. There’s a certain body language one has to follow. I’ve never really observed how pregnant women behave, so I don’t know their emotions. This was an intense film. It revolves around a heavily pregnant woman who gets kidnapped. It features a lot of violence and most of it was shot in a raw fashion. The character had its limitations, so lot of planning had to be done to play it. If she had to run, she could not run like a normal woman.”
How did she prepare herself to play such a physically and mentally taxing character? “We had a two-to-three month long pre-production phase. In preparation for my character, I saw films like Orphan, Black Swan and Room. There’s nothing similar between these films and Lilli, but Prasobh wanted me to watch these films to get a better sense of acting, especially while essaying a character like Lilli, from an international point of view. These films helped me understand my character better. Lilli is an introvert in the beginning of the film. She doesn’t laugh or talk much. But she has something in her heart. As the story progresses, you will see a sudden change in the character graph and you’ll see it undergoes a transformation. Black Swan helped me understand the changing phase better.”
Samyuktha also said that the role physically drained her out and it took her days to get herself out of the character. “It took me days to return to my normal self. Also, playing the character left me with injuries and bruises. I had to carry a latex womb all the time and it was quite heavy. It was tied so tightly to the body that it left marks after it was removed and the whole area was numb for a few days. It’s a film with very minimal dialogues so a lot relied on my character’s emotions. We mostly shot in a dark room with very little light. When I’d look in the mirror on some days after the shoot, I could not recognise myself because I’d be covered in blood and dirt.”
Asked if she didn’t have any qualms playing such an intense role so early on in her career, Samyuktha said: “I saw this as an opportunity to prove something. You don’t get such roles often and the way Prasobh narrated the story, I just couldn’t miss the opportunity. It’s a role which changed me so much as an actor. After essaying such a character, I feel empowered.”
Samyuktha, who has signed two new projects, will next be seen in Dulquer Salmaan’s Oru Yamandan Premakadha.
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Updated Date: Oct 09, 2018 16:20:46 IST