At the age of just 19, Amala Paul rose to fame with Mynaa, a film that was much-talked about for its interesting narration and the hard-hitting climax. From thereon, Amala’s career graph has been a whacky one of sorts, with a variety of films that have hit both black and white spots. TNM caught up with the actor before she wraps up the final portions of her upcoming thriller Adho Andha Paravai Pola, speaking to her about her films and entrepreneurial intentions in general.
We asked her to talk about this specific project first, which she calls her most physically demanding film.
“I never thought any movie could break Mynaa’s record, but Adho Andha Paravai Pola (AAPP) just broke that in terms of the effort that had to be put in. It’s a story about a woman activist who gets lost in the jungle, and the surprises that spring up on her way out. I knew it right from the narration that this would be an interesting project to take up, for this is the kind of film that I would love to see onscreen. I’ve even done all the stunts on my own,” she says.
Amala says that there’s a side to her that the audience still hasn't seen yet, as they’ve become used to seeing her in girl-next-door and typecast heroine roles so far. “There was Run Baby Run in Malayalam where I had a slightly wild side, that’s all. I don’t think people know that I’m always an active person, with a special inclination to sport and adrenaline. During the first fight for AAPP, there was a lot of tension prevailing in the sets fearing whether I would get it right. But in truth, I was very confident and had practiced my moves like a dance, memorizing every bit. Slowly, things fell into place.”
The actor had to go the extra mile for this film, in which she has shots of going up a 40 feet tree, rolling in the mud and tackling many such hurdles in the forest.
“One thing I’ve discovered and loved about doing action, is how the respect towards a woman increases when people on the sets watch us doing a fight scene the way it has to be done. I hate it when somebody comes and and tells me to do it like a hero. I don’t have balls, I have ovaries. Us woman have a different body language and style of our own. So when such a positive vibe arises from doing my own stunts, I feel really empowered,” she shares.
Amala is in great praise of the film’s "mother" (the writer) Arun Rajagopalan and "father" (the director) Vinoth, who have had her work cut out for a brisk project like this. Close to 80% of the shoot has been wrapped up, with only a couple of small schedules hanging in the balance.
The actor has recently floated her own brand ‘Night Recovery’, a detox drink composed of 14 herbs that supposedly stimulates better sleep and functioning of the mind.
“We’re planning a huge promotional campaign to bring out the essence and importance of good health among people, and how this ‘yellow water’ can help in that regard,” she says.
The actor does not hesitate to say that Chennai has become purely a workplace for her post her divorce from director AL Vijay. She has moved to Delhi in order to concentrate on her yoga, spend time with her close friends and go on regular treks to the Himalayas, where her Hindi debut with Arjun Rampal will be shot as well.
“In two or three years, I’m planning to migrate to the Himalayas and build a self-sustained community there, on a small scale. I and my friends have had these things in mind for a long time, but that’s the bigger picture. But I will never stop doing films, I was born for this.”
Amala has completed close to 15 days of shoot for her Malayalam film Aadujeevitham which stars Prithviraj. She plays the woman lead in the Blessy directorial, which narrates the heart-touching story of an Indian immigrant who is held in bonded labour in Saudi Arabia. Resul Pookutty is working on the live sound, while AR Rahman is composing the music. The next schedule of the film will take place in Rajasthan, come November.
Her next film in Tamil will be Aadai with director Rathna Kumar of Meyaadha Maan fame. She says she can’t reveal much about it now, but still comments, “It’s a kick-ass story. I told Rathna that I’ll do this film if we will work together as a team, and not have exclusive roles as a director and actor, that’s my idea. When you see the first look poster, you’ll go crazy. It’s something else, nobody has done it before.”
“When I came back from all that, I was a different person. Scripts came to me, not because I was a star, but because they had faith in me that I would be able to pull it off. It was only then that I realised that somewhere down the line, I’ve misunderstood that I should be doing films only with big heroes, staying in their shade even if there was no scope in my part. Even Vetrimaaran sir called me and told me the same thing that, he is talking to me as an actor. Now I know what my strength is, and that I should play to it alone.”