'Urumi was difficult to shoot for'
Nithya Menon carved a niche for herself as a Malayalam actor with her small role in Kerala Cafe. After that, she forayed into Tamil and Telugu film industries.
In this interview, Nithya tells Radhika Rajamani about acting in Santosh Sivan's Urumi, where she plays a princess.
Check out the trailer for a closer look at the film.
What made you take up Urumi?
I met Santosh Sivan when I was shooting for Lenin Rajendran's film Makara Manju (on Raja Ravi Varma). We became friends. He told me he wanted to write a film for me. He had a million ideas and used to bounce them off me.
Then he came up with the Urumi script and said that he had a beautiful role which only I could play. Much of the character is based on Santosh's perception of who I am.
Was the fact that it was a historical film that made you sign it?
I would have done it either way, whether it was a historical or not. Since he said it was a role written for me, I did it. It was between friends. I have never done a historical character. For me, it was interesting to see how I would look like.
What was appealing about the script?
When I first heard the Urumi script, I was surprised, shocked and excited. It was a strong script with a reference to the past. It had fact mixed with fiction. To incorporate facts into a film and introduce fictional characters was interesting. I loved the script.
Image: Prabhu Deva and Nithya Menon in Urumi
'I don't prepare for any role'
Urumi is such a huge canvas -- a landmark film in Malayalam. How do you feel to have acted in such a film?
I don't look at it that way. I am doing a film, I hear the script, love it, and do it.
What's your role all about?
I play a Chirakkal princess named Bala. The role has a comical undertone to it. I am paired opposite Prabhu Deva. While the love track between Prithviraj and Genelia is intense, the one between Prabhu Deva and me is funny. I play an innocent, young, child-like, attractive girl.
Did you have to prepare for the role as it's a period film?
I don't prepare for any role. I go on the sets and do it.
Is it based on the brief given by Sivan then?
It was all based on an informal brief Santosh Sivan that gave.
How was the shoot?
It was tedious and the terrain was difficult. On screen, it looks beautiful but we shot standing in slush almost 24/7. People got foot infections. It was laborious. Wearing all the jewellery and doing the hair was not easy.
Do you have any scenes with Genelia, Prithviraj, Tabu and Vidya Balan?
I had very few scenes with Genelia, so there wasn't much of an interaction. I shot scenes with Amol Gupte, Prithvi, Prabhu Deva and Jagathy Sir. I have worked with Prithvi and Jagathy Sir before. I was honoured to work with Amol Gupte. He is a brilliant person. To share space with person of that calibre was the best part of the film for me.
I have not shared the screen with Tabu and Vidya Balan.
Image: Nithya Menon
'Prabhu Deva is a very down-to-earth person'
How was it acting with Prabhu Deva?
I was doing a film with Prabhu Deva for the first time. He's a nice, good and down-to-earth person. In fact, he will give up his chair for you. He's very funny and would crack you up on the sets. Many times we had to cut scenes because I would be laughing, thanks to Prabhu Deva. Working with him was fun.
How was it working with Sivan as a director?
I knew Santosh Sivan as a person. So it was more like working with a person you know well. He's got his style, he's very informal, goes with the flow. He's a brilliant cinematographer. Visually, he's on a different level.
How was the experience of working in Urumi?
Experience involves everything. As a film, it was difficult to do. Geographically it was a difficult terrain (Malshej Ghat in Maharashtra). The weather was rainy and cold and I don't like cold weather. I worked, enjoyed and came out.
I was simultaneously shooting for three films -- Karmayogi (Malayalam), Veppam (Tamil) and the last bits of Ala Modalaindi (Telugu). So I would feel drained out.
Do you find it easy to quickly shed the character you play?
Why not? I shed it when camera goes cut. When they say action, I am into it completely and forget everything around. When they say cut, I am back to myself.
Are you game to do more period/historical films?
Why not? I enjoy doing them. Karmayogi is an adaptation of Hamlet set in a period. Makara Manju is based on Ravi Varma. I like period films, as everything is traditional in them.
Image: Nithya Menon and Prabhu Deva in Urumi