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THE ONE TO WATCH OUT FOR

It wasn’t much of a surprise when Kalyani Priyadarshan chose to enter filmdom. Yes, this actor is the daughter of two very prominent film personalities – director Priyadarshan and actor Lissy, well known for their contribution to the Malayalam film industry. “I was always visiting my father’s sets. Sometimes, I even spent my vacations there,” she says. While both critics & audience lauded her performance in her debut film Hello, she proved that she is here to stay with her noteworthy portrayal of Lahari in the recently released Chitralahari. Well, she definitely has a lot to say and apparently a lot to do this year.

LATEST BUZZ
On overwhelming response of Chitralahari…
I was on cloud nine, hearing and reading such positive responses. It meant a great deal when people said that they could connect with my role. We tried to make an honest film, free of any gimmicks, and it felt good when everyone raved about it.

On working with Sai Dharam Tej?
He was reserved & shy in the beginning but once he warms up to you, he has the most infectious energy. I can recognise his laugh even if I am among a hundred people! It’s a very peculiar laugh. Tell us about your future projects.
I am doing Sharwa 27 in Telugu, and Hero, an action thriller and Maanadu, a political drama in Tamil. Then there is my father’s epic period film in Malayalam titled Marakkar.

REWIND
Did you always know that you would get into acting?
Acting wasn’t part of my plans.
I am a sensitive person and take criticism personally. But I had an innate desire to be in films, so I decide to work behind the scenes. I obtained a Bachelors degree in Designing from the US and worked as an assistant production designer for Krrish 3 (2013) and Iru Mugan (2016) with Sabu Cyril. Although I never went to an acting school, I did a bit of theatre in Singapore and later, I interned in theatre while I was studying in the US. I did attend an acting workshop in Adishakti Theatre, Pondicherry.

Being a star kid, would you say you had a smooth entry?
My parents have always believed in me even before I entered the industry. They never offered any suggestions on ‘what to do, how to do’ but I bank a lot on the emotional support they give me. Everyone thinks that being a star kid gives us an easy ticket. But I feel it is hard, especially the pressure we deal with and the spotlight we are put under.



Did your education help you think differently on a film set?
Architecture teaches you to observe movements of humans & design a space accordingly. As an actor, I feel how a certain character would move and the body language is designed. In that respect, there is a similarity.
On donning the acting hat For the first couple of days during my shoot, I was all over the place. Having worked as a production design assistant, my first instinct was to get everything under control. It cost me a great deal and I learned to calm down. I then understood why actors only focus on what they did.

Did you not consider debuting in one of your father’s films?
While it was possible for me to have joined one of my father’s projects, he insisted that I make my own way in the industry.

On working with Vikram
I wanted to work with a good director for my debut film, and when I knew that it was a Vikram’s film, I didn’t have to think twice. My father believes that a good director knows how to extract the right performance from an actor. It deeply impacted me. So, the only thing I really cared about for my debut film was an inspiring director. A great producer and a great story came as a bonus for me in Hello!

On working with Akhil?
He is sweet but was very quiet during the shoot. I must say that he is hard working and focused. I almost cried watching him perform in the climax.



How did you handle the language barrier in Hello?
Yes, I am more comfortable in Tamil and Malayalam. When I started shooting for Hello, I just didn’t know a word in Telugu. It’s tad difficult to emote and react when you don’t understand what the other person is saying. That was a steep learning curve for me. And that is the beauty of working with Vikram. He knows what he wants but he will give you the freedom to do your own thing. They would give me the dialogues a day before to practise.

Did your parents help you prepare for the film?
It might sound surprising but more than my mother, I take inspiration from my father. He is an incredible actor and not many are aware of this side of him. I constantly keep telling him that he should act one day! But both of them had no idea what I was doing in Hello.

How did your parents react it?
My mother is an emotional person and she is my biggest fan. She loves everything I do. I remember, after watching the film, she hugged me and cried for about ten minutes. And then she did the same to the director. My father, though, is the opposite. He is my critic and every time I happen to do something wrong, he would go on about it for hours. After watching Hello, he didn’t say a word! That was a great compliment coming from him.

UP & CLOSE
It’s a huge legacy you bear on your shoulders. There’s got to be privileges and pressures both to it, your take?
I feel I get a lot more respect and acceptance in the industry because of my family. I am given leeway for it. However, it makes me feel more responsible about the choices I make. I have to be sure I don’t do anything to tarnish their reputation. A newcomer can go all in because they have nothing to lose. I cannot afford to do that.

You are family friends with actor Mohanlal. How did he react to your debut?
I am very close to him and his family. He’s more like a fun uncle whom you would like to hang out with. He loves magic and at times, he loves performing few tricks for us. Their family loves food, so whenever I felt like having a proper meal on any given day, I would end up going to their house. And I must say, he cooks really well. But yes, he is someone I look up to. I grew up watching him perform on sets and his feedback means a great deal to me. He’s not one who says a lot, and so after watching Hello, he hugged me to express how much he liked it.



Interesting memory
My father is good at picking the right films for us to watch. And he makes it a point to share some trivia with us. I recall, we were watching Lord of The Rings and in the middle of the film, he paused the video and explained how a certain scene was shot. Of late, I don’t really watch as many films, but I do peep into the entertainment room to make a note of what all films my father is watching.

Best advice ever received
From my parents. They said, “You don’t have to listen to anyone. This needs to be a journey for you. As long as you work with the right people, you will be able to make good decisions. We won’t give you any advice, but we are always there to support you. You need to learn all this as you progress in life.

Tip to aspirants
Many struggle to make it big so you have to just grab a chance when you get one. I do believe in destiny but I also think that you need to work to make your luck last long. Luck might be in your favour, but you should know how to utilise it.

 
 
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