'I am impressed with the Malayalam film industry'
Swati Reddy is a happy girl right now. Her Malayalam film North 24 Kaatham (which stars Fahadh Fasil), directed by Anil Radhakrishnan Menon, has received good reviews.
The Tamil film Idharkuthane Aasaipattai Balakumara, directed by Gokul, where Swati has a small part acting with Vijay Sethupathy, has also done well.
She is juggling different languages and doing different roles.
In this exclusive interview, she rewinds on North 24 Kaatham and also talks about attending the Pacific Meridian Film Festival at Vladivostok, which surprisingly, is her birthplace.
Are you happy that North 24 Kaatham has done well?
Yes, I am happy that the film is good. It is also breaking even and made some money.
Did you take up North 24 Kaatham on account of its creative storyline?
Yes. My performance is subtle. The story sounded so different and I have not seen such a film.
Fahadh makes the right choices. I wanted to work with a young team.
Image: Swati Reddy
'Fahadh Fasil is a top notch performer'
How was it playing a social worker in the film who embarks on a journey with a politician and an IT professional (Fahadh Fasil)?
Narayani is a no-nonsense girl. She works for an NGO but does not fuss and is not over the top. She is a young, confident and independent girl.
I liked the fact that the character was real. Even when Narayani is listening to the saga of the old man, played by Nedumudi Venu, she is neither over-dramatic nor does she whimper. She just listens to him as we all do in real life.
When the action happens, she feels for the old man. He shows her the building where he was tortured. So she tells Harinarayan (the character played by Fahadh) I will come back here next Sunday!
Every film has come at the right time. Narayani required a sense of maturity. I can’t play the bubbly character I did in Ashta Chamma now.
How was it acting with Fahadh Fasil for the second time?
We are cordial, we bully each other too. There is a healthy respect for each other as we don’t cross the line. He is a top notch performer.
Working with Nedumudi Venu must have been an experience?
It was a mind-blowing, amazing experience. He is such a generous person. He used to improvise and elevate my character. He is a fun person. I am still in touch with him. We shot together for one month. So I got emotionally attached.
The film had a bunch of young people who were interesting and refined people.
Image: Swati Reddy
'People think I am working in serious cinema which is not'
Were you more comfortable doing your second Malayalam film?
I was much more comfortable. It was not alien to me. Nothing blew my senses. I am impressed with the industry and the kind of films they make.
People think I am working in serious cinema and the Malayalam filmmakers make morbid films which is not true.
The film received positive reviews. Were you there to promote it and see the reaction?
No, I was in Russia to attend the Pacific Meridian Festival at Vladivostok.
I met directors and actors from other countries besides watching films. It was an amazing experience. A few films were shown to celebrate 100 years of Indian cinema. I talked with people about films; it was an enriching experience.
The day I left Vladivostok, North 24 Kaatham released. I kept messaging Anil and Fahadh from various airports in transit asking them what’s happening.
They said the response has been good and that was invigorating. When the reviews started coming in, they were also positive.
So, how was it going to your birthplace, Vladivostok?
After the festival I stayed back for a few days. My mother showed me all the places – my first home, and the post office from which she sent the telegram when I was born, which eventually reached when we came back! It was surreal!
Image: A scene from North 24 Kaatham
'It's a lot of hard work to do Malayalam films'
What prompted you to work in Malayalam cinema?
The films themselves. It’s a lot of hard work – physically and mentally. Since I am not from Kerala I have to be alert while doing the films.
You seem to be busy with Tamil and Telugu projects now.
Currently I am doing Karthikeya (a bi-lingual) with Nikhil. We have shot the Tamil version in Pondicherry and Kumbakonam. I am just back from a hectic schedule there.
I am also doing Vada Curry the talkie of which is nearly done.
Image: Swati Reddy