'Jayendra has given me a 180 in my career'
Priya Anand is comfortable in both Tamil and Telugu and therefore her filmography includes films in both languages. She made her Tamil debut withVamanan, though she signed Pugaippadam first.
As the television journalist Ratna Prabha, Priya made an impact in Sekhar Kammula's Telugu film Leader. Subsequently, she did Rama Rama Krishna Krishna.
In this exclusive interview with Radhika Rajamani, Priya talks about her forthcoming bi-lingual 180, the first film to be made by ad-man Jayendra, and is all praise for the filmmaker and the film.
What attracted you to 180?
180 is something that was destined to happen. I heard about a year ago that Jayendra was starting a bilingual project and I was told to try and meet him but I didn't give it a second thought because I assumed there was no way I would make the cut.
A few months down the line, I received a call from the executive producer of Leader, Pula Rao, regarding the same project and this time the meeting had already been arranged. I met Jayendra along with our executive producers Suresh Balaji and George. The next day I auditioned and soon after got the role!
One of the many reasons the rest of the team and I have so much respect for Jayendra is that every artiste except for Siddharth (and obviously Mr Mouli and Geetha) had to audition for the film. When I met them, I was yet to have a release in Tamil or Telugu. Jayendra just wanted to see us in his character and nothing else mattered to him. It's rare to find a filmmaker that is so confident about his product and doesn't seem the need to look at the commercial elements in terms of market etc.
Image: Priya Anand
'180 is definitely a visual treat'
What do you play in the film?
I play an NRI, Renuka Narayanan, from San Francisco. It was a refreshing change for me from playing a village girl in Rama Rama Krishna Krishna. For the first time I played a girl who could wear really good clothes! I even got to use a lot of my designer bags.
I am so fortunate to have been able to play a character that's fully developed and who reacts in real time. Her life and emotions are real. There is no melodrama, no place for over acting on the pretense of being bubbly or cute.
Renuka is born and raised in the US and strikes a perfect balance with both the cultures. Quite often an NRI is portrayed as a rich, spoilt brat or someone who has moved away from his/her roots. Jayendra has really portrayed a desi girl at her best; in that sense, she is a lot like me because I never once forgot who I am and where I come from in all the years I spent in the US. She is fun, lovable and has a special talent of being able to mimic peoples' voices which she conveniently uses as and when she needs.
I have to thank our writers for coming up with two amazing female characters in the film; it's hard enough to find one that's fully developed with different shades. Both these girls are fun, full of life, adorable unlike most films where one heroine will be shy and quiet and the other boisterous.For the first time I am part of a film that gives so much importance to the heroine not only in terms of character and mannerisms but also in terms of style, make up etc. Banu who is one of my favourite persons in the industry and who does Rajinikanth's make up, gave me such an easy, breezy look along with our stylist Komal Sahani from Mumbai. It goes without saying that Balu, our cinematographer, has captured the picturesque locations beautifully. Everyone's been raving about the cinematography. 180 is definitely a visual treat. The background score by Shareth really adds so much soul to the film.
Image: Priya Anand
'Nithya is one of the best actors'
This is the first time you are paired with Siddharth. How was it sharing screen space with him?
I was a little apprehensive about doing a romantic love story because I find all those things funny! I couldn't have asked for a better co-actor to help me get over the giggles. Siddharth is an amazing artiste and a total all rounder which really sets him apart from the rest. Along with Jayendra, he has also had a big part in the way my performance has shaped up. It was a little tricky keeping up with him especially when it came to the songs.
How was it acting with Nithya Menen?
Nithya is one of the best actors we have down south. She is a natural. She has done more films than I have and in that sense she is also my senior.
You had a shoot in the US too. How did you find working back there?
I was very happy to be able to shoot in the US because it was like a homecoming for me. For the first time I had my family -- my mom and aunt -- visit me on the sets. It has been close to three years since I saw my father as I was busy starting my career.
Image: A scene from 180
'I will never be able to approach another project the same way'
180 is a bilingual. Do you lend your voice to both Tamil and Telugu since you speak both languages?
It was an enriching experience working on a bilingual. Every shot was filmed twice once in each language. In all aspects it was two different films. It was really interesting to see the subtle difference in facial expression as words are used differently. Fortunately for me, after Leader I got to dub for the film in both languages. I will never allow someone else to dub for me in a language that I speak.
How was it working with Jayendra?
Working with an ad-film maker is a wonderful experience! Every frame is picture perfect. Every dialogue spoken in 180 or every character in the film has reason to be there. There were no elements added to make it appealing for any particular audience.
He's really given me a 180 in my career. I will never be able to approach another project the same way. He has set a really high standard for me and I hope I can live up to it.
Image: A scene from 180