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'I never thought of being an actress'

Last updated on: March 19, 2013 10:18 IST

'I never thought of being an actress'

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Radhika Rajamani in Hyderabad

Born and brought up in New Delhi, Archana Kavi made a dream debut with Neelathamara, a Malayalam film based on M T Vasudevan Nair's story, directed by Lal Jose. She was acclaimed for her performance and won a number of state awards in Kerala.

Acting happened by accident for Archana, who is now doing films in Malayalam and Tamil.

Her first Telugu film, Back Bench Student, directed by Madhura Sreedhar Reddy, and co-starring Mahat Raghavendra and Piaa Bajpai, released on Friday, March 15. 

Archana talks about her experience of working in Back Bench Student.

Why did you decide to foray into Telugu films when you are an established actress in Malayalam cinema?

I'm not choosy about the language. I want to do as many languages as I can. It's nice to be part of different cultures.

A college kid in Tamil, Malayalam or Telugu has different shades. I go for performance oriented roles. If you have seen my Malayalam films, I have played characters like a maid and an adivasi.

When I heard the narration of Back Bench Student, I thought it would portray me as I was. I had the scope to perform in this role, so I took it up.


Image: Archana Kavi

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'I liked the pain of sacrifice in my character'

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Did you get a call from director Madhura Sreedhar Reddy?

I got a call from Sreedhar Sir after he had seen my videos. I heard the narration on the phone and it took me half an hour to say yes. It's something I can go and watch as it's light-hearted.

Had you heard about the director and your co-stars Mahat Raghavendra and Piaa Bajpai?

No. I searched about them on the Net.

What did you like about the role that made you sign up for it?

I liked the pain of sacrifice in the character. Our generation will be facing this. The power of letting go is not easy. I was attracted to this. If the audience feels the pain, it's worth it.


Image: Archana Kavi

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'Pia and I were comfortable sharing the screen space'

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It was an intense, emotional role, though there were fun moments in the first half of the film. Could you identify with your character?

I could identify with the role. When I was doing the climax, I felt it was a bit haunting and had a weird feeling. Some of the lines were powerful.

How challenging was it to do a Telugu film and shoot in areas where people spoke mostly in Telugu?

I am blessed. As I'm born and brought up in Delhi, I speak Hindi, Telugu, and Malayalam (my mother tongue) and have a Sanskrit base. So that's a plus point,

I could follow Telugu fast and I didn't find it that difficult. I can connect with all South Indian languages. The script writer helped me with the dialogues

You share just two scenes with Pia in the film. How was it interacting with her?

I had seen her in Ko. She's a bubbly person and it was nice to see her do a different character. If she saw something amiss in the make-up, or otherwise, she would tell me. She was a great support on the sets.

She would appreciate it if I had done a good job. We were very comfortable doing the scenes. If we were awkward, it would have shown on the screen.


Image: A scene from Back Bench Student

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'I could have pulled off the character even if it was in French'

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Mahat was also a newcomer. Were you apprehensive about this?

I pick up projects based on scripts. I'm not apprehensive about the new star. Mahat had done his homework and knew what he wants. He was as experienced as an experienced actor would be.

I worked as a newcomer here. I didn't think of myself as an actress. The re-learning here helped me.

Was it exhausting to play your character?

I believe you should have confidence in the character you play. I told myself I would stick to Priyanka even if she was the second heroine. I was focusing on how to lift the character. Sreedhar Sir gave me the freedom to do so. 

Are you happy to juggle films in different languages like Malayalam, Tamil and Telugu?

I am a total juggler. Even if the film is in French, I believe I could have pulled off the character!

You had a dream debut with Neelathamara. Was that a role you have to live up to?

It has given me a lot more pluses and tension. Everyone talks of Neelathamara. It's the best debut. M T Sir (Vasudevan Nair) is a legend. I know the value and responsibility of working with him.

I'm known as MT's heroine and I have to live up to that. One of the best directors, Lal Jose, directed that film and there's a saying that whoever he launches does well.


Image: A scene from Back Bench Student

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'I used to do movie reviews before becoming an actress'

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Does that weigh on your mind when you sign other films?

No, it doesn't weigh on my mind. That character was set in 1979, and it's best to leave it there. It was a haunting character and a powerful one.

You seem to have quite a few projects on hand.

I'm shooting for Honey Bee (Jean Paul Lal's debut film) and Gnana Kirukkan (Tamil).

The other two films I have finished shooting for are Nadodimannan and Abhiyum Njanum (not the remake of the Tamil film but has the same title and a similar storyline).

What drew you to acting?

I never thought of being an actress. It was accidental. I never acted before Neelathamara. I used to do movie reviews on India Vision TV.

I think Lal Jose's daughter saw me in one of the episodes and I was called to audition.

In the final audition, I met MT Sir. I never expected I would get the role. Since I grew up in Delhi, my Malayalam was horrible. But MT Sir liked me and I feel blessed to have got the role.


Image: A scene from Back Bench Student

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