'Ponni is not a criminal.
'She is someone who does what she has to due to the adversities that have occurred in her life. I had to keep that in mind.'
The fabulous Tamil-Telugu actress Keerthy Suresh delivers a powerhouse performance in Saani Kaayidham, the Tamil film screening on Amazon Prime Video, where she plays a disempowered woman out to wreak vengeance on her wrongdoers.
Keerthy tells Subhash K Jha, "I want to play characters that will resonate with the audiences on a personal level and touch them emotionally."
Saani Kaayidham is a departure from everything you have done so far. What made you choose this?
It’s different in every way because I've not done a genre like this.
It’s a first for me, making it a very exciting project.
The character is very raw and rooted.
I was very kicked when the script was first presented to me.
Director Arun Matheswaran’s narration made my jaw drop. There was no question of not taking up this challenge.
Saani Kaayidham sees you playing a very angry character. Since you seem sweet tempered in real life, was that hard to do?
I was always seen as the girl-next-door, who is bubbly and charming.
But this character, Ponni, is very unique.
It’s different from what I have portrayed on screen before.
I was quite impressed by the unexpected scenario and unpredictability that the script and character brought to the table.
Ponni is brave despite the adversaries she has to face.
I was certain that, with Saani Kaayidham, audiences will see me in a new light.
How do you manage to be so prolific? How do you assess your career so far? Is there anything you would like to change if you had the opportunity?
As an actor, I don't chase any particular genre or story.
I tend to seek out roles that appeal to me and would, in essence, work well for the overall story.
I like to do roles that challenge me whilst also ensuring that it helps me enhance my skills.
Any film should be a learning experience, hence I am open to new areas where I can explore concepts that I have never attempted.
I have been very fortunate to have had incredible experiences working with some of the industry's finest directors and crews, which also enabled me to better my craft. So I have no regrets, only gratitude.
You have had to perform some seriously violent sequences. How much did they affect you personally and how hard was it for you to leave Ponni behind?
I think everything that I did was new; everything was challenging.
Ponni is not a criminal.
She is someone who just does what she has to due to the adversities that have occurred in her life. I had to keep that in mind.
Was it hard for you to relate to the role?
It’s not something I relate to, so I didn’t attach myself to it completely.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed every bit of it.
I believed in Arun’s massive vision.
It was beyond my thinking and I was so pumped every day to play such an intriguing character.
How did you bring yourself close to your disempowered character? What are your thoughts on the gender and caste biases that your character has to go through?
I don’t think I had to disempower her.
Ponni is lean and mean.
She is bold and, through the course of the story, becomes fearless. We have tried to achieve this through the raw and rugged look.
It took me barely 20-30 mins to get into the character’s skin.
It was very important that the character fits in the surrounding she was in and where she lives.
Some have found the film’s violence over-the-top.
What she goes through, although a tad exaggerated, is rooted in some sort of realism.
We cannot deny that gender and caste biases exist even in today’s time.
And it is fictional stories like Saani Kaayidham that throw light on such societal subjects.
Are you emboldened to perform more characters that have a social relevance? How will you make them happen?
I have been receiving such wonderful messages for the film and my character.
People are enjoying watching this cinematic piece of work for which Arun and all of us have put in our best of efforts.
For the time being, I just want to be thankful for all the love we are being showered with.
I don’t know about stories with social relevance. That depends entirely on what script I am being offered.
But I want to play characters that will resonate with the audiences on a personal level and touch them emotionally.
I hope more such opportunities will come my way and I will take it up if I am confident about the narrative.