Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Abhi is fun, lively: Priyamani

Malayali girls are on a rampage in B-town by the looks of it. What more they’ve got the A-list heroes serenading them. With Vidya Balan leading the pack, followed by Asin, we now have Priyamani debuting in Hindi films with Mani Ratnam’s Raavan and Ram Gopal Varma’s Rakta Charitra .

“Yeah, it’s after a long gap after Rekha, Hemamalini, Sridevi and Jayaprada, we’ve seen a resurgence of southern heroines in Hindi films,” she observes.

So, how was it working with the Jr Bachchan and his Mrs? “Aishwarya and I had no scenes, so I did not get the opportunity to even say hello to her but Abhishek Bachchan is fun and lively, he is always cracking jokes and when you work with him there’s lot of laughter on the sets and you hardly feel the work pressure. From the spot boy to the director, he is courteous to one and all. Even Suriya my co-star in Rakta Charitra is a joy to work with,” says Priya excitedly and adds, “I’m working with him for the first time. He is very helpful and a great encourager.”

From the way Priya rolls her Rs, must have been a tough task getting her Hindi right, methinks but she’s quick to rebut, “Mani sir took me to the assistant director to test my Hindi. He came back after five minutes and the assistant director certified that my Hindi was really good and with a little help here and there I would sail through.” “I studied Hindi in school and that’s come in handy,” says Priya who abandoned her masters in psychology midway to take up films.

With multilinguals being the order of the day in the Indian film industry (Rakta Chartira and Raavan are tri-linguals) Priya relishes the fact that she’s “conversant in all the southern languages”. “It took me just a couple of months to pick up Telugu. For my second film Pellainakothalo I had begun conversing so well in Telugu that people took me to be from this state,” says Priya who is busy shuttling between Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.So, while she’s in Mumbai does she catch up with her cousin Vidya? “I haven’t spoken to her in a long time, but I do meet her dad when I am there.”

Right now she’s in the city shooting for song sequences with Gopichand for Puri Jagannath’s Golimaar. “It’s a cute role, I’m essaying with a good mix of glamour and performance,” says Priya who makes it clear that though she’s won the national award for playing a simple village belle in Paruthiveeran, she’s looking forward to playing diverse roles. “I’m sure my forthcoming film will take people by surprise. If they exclaim — ‘is this the same Priyamani who played the de-glam Muthazhagu in Paruthiveeran?” I’d be the happiest person,” she says and goes on to point out, “Except for Priyanka Chopra who sported a glam look and won a National Award for Fashion, I don’t think there are such roles available down south.”

Though she’s happy with the way Bollywood is experimenting with various genres with the films like Manorama Six Feet Under and Road Movie and the realistic Tamil films that have caught people’s attention, she feels that Tollywood has to decisively break away from formula films.

Being a National Award winner does come with its share of expectations and headaches she says. “Soon after Paruthiveeran I was flooded with scripts that were almost the same as the award-winning film. I had offers from Malyalam, Telugu and Kannada filmmakers. But I had to be firm and in fact I realised that now I had to be more careful with my choice of films because I have raised the audience expectations,” says the actress whose Kannada film Raam a remake of Ready was a runaway success.

So, is she currently doing a film in her native tongue Malyalam? “No, I’m not doing a Malayalam film she confirms and adds, “I have got offers but I am waiting for a really good scrip,t” she says.Priyamani right now is in an enviable position, but she says that “it was a very difficult journey. I still don’t think I’ve reached the pinnacle.”

How does busy Priyamani juggle her schedules? What keeps her going? “I come back from work, then eat and sleep,” she says admitting that she never diets but does try to fit in gym sessions in her busy schedules. “When I’m in Hyderabad I love going to the multiplexes to watch movies or party with friends but that’s after I’ve grown to love this city,” she says and pauses as she reminisces — “When I first came here I thought “Aiyyo why in the world did I land here!”

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