Malayalam actor Parvathy, who has also acted in Tamil and Kannada films, will have her first Hindi release, Qarib Qarib Singlle, on Friday. Ahead of the film's release, Parvathy appeared on a chat show with Sneha Menon Desai of Film Companion.
Excerpts from the conversation:
When asked which question Parvathy didn't want to answer, she said it was "Which Khan do you want to act with?"
"My first video interview which went out, which was Live I believe...I don't know...I was clueless that this question was going to be asked. I was so caught off-guard that I went (makes a face)!!" she laughs.
Parvathy goes on to say that she's generally fine acting with anyone and that she doesn't have a list of names with whom she should work with.
Asked if she's "cracked the code of chemistry" when it comes to portraying relationships on screen, given how natural her co-star Irrfan and she look together in the film, Parvathy said that she is still thinking about what chemistry is.
"Because I've had co-actors with whom I've had terrible chemistry off screen. In the sense, we barely speak on the set or we have such issues just even having a conversation, being in the same room as each other. It happens. But we've had terrific chemistry on screen. We've lit the screen on fire, as they say!" she says.
Later in the interview, she reveals that Dhanush was one of the co-stars with whom she barely spoke on the sets.
Parvathy notes that as long as both actors are "obsessed" with their job, it doesn't matter what their off-screen chemistry is.
The actor has said quite a few times that she believes a person debuts as an artiste only once and that she didn't consider Qarib to be a debut film, although it is her first Hindi one.
However, responding to the anchor's question on whether she did anything differently in her Hindi "debut", Parvathy says, "I'm still getting the hang of it. The industry is much bigger here. So the sort of exposure you get is much bigger. You suddenly feel very exposed. Naked, yes. Exactly, naked! There's a part of me that doesn't relate to marketing when it's done. I'm not too at home with that. Because down south we don't do too much marketing and we're not required to. But I do understand."
Parvathy also commented on how stars are treated differently in the different southern states.
"In Tamil and Telugu stars are worshiped. But in Malayalam, I've always felt the audiences have kept it really real. They would definitely worship a Mammootty, Mohanlal, the superstars, who've been there for years now, but even there the mob mentality is just a bit healthier than other industries," she says.
Parvathy added that it was possible for her to pick up groceries or go to the mall without getting mobbed although that did happen once in a while.
"And I can say I'm not in the mood to take a selfie, sorry, and they'd be ok. You can demand that kind of respect and reserve that right for yourself," she says.
Parvathy went on to say that on Instagram, she now receives messages from north Indians, advising her not to be so active and exposing herself too much since that would bring down her brand value.
"I've been too raw for too long," she says, adding that it was going to be difficult for her to "stay within the lines." Parvathy also says that she'd received a warm welcome in Bollywood but that she seemed to have shocked some people with her responses. "Honesty?" asks Sneha, to which Parvathy quips, "I don't think they dig that!"
"They want the coy, demure kind of answers and since I have no such faculty in me, it doesn't work out!" she laughs.
When Sneha asks Parvathy about the time when she took a "break" from her career, Parvathy replies that it hadn't been a break and that she just didn't receive any calls during the period.
"That 1.5 years you are talking about, I barely had 3-4 phone calls. I don't do endorsements or anything, so I was not even seen," she says.
Parvathy then showed the anchor a tattoo on her wrist '1230' which was the amount she had in the bank at the time.
"It was an eye-opening experience for me because I had to move out of my apartment and move back with my parents. It was just a week before I had to move out that I got the audition call for Maryan. Thankfully I got through and I got my advance. And I was like ok, safe for another few months!" she says.
"Even then, whenever I used to get those other calls for either item numbers or you know, movies where the call you get is like, 'This is the hero you're going to act with and you have five songs in Switzerland'...that's the job description...I thought I'd rather be a pauper, I'm fine," she says.
Parvathy shared that she completed her MA in Literature, studied and watched a lot of movies, in that period. She added that she was ready to do any other job than take up acting work where she'd be required to compromise on her dignity or sleep.
Commenting on the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Parvathy said that it was the norm in the industry and that sexual misconduct was widely prevalent.
"It's not even anything anyone would cringe at," she says, adding that such behaviour was prevalent in the family and friend circle too.
"There is a stigma, there is a victim shaming that everyone's always so afraid of. So you always hush-hush, you know," she says, going on to explain that even if people might take a sympathetic note, it ends with a "it happens" resignation towards such incidents.
Parvathy recounted that she'd been harassed as a child, as a schoolgirl, on the roads and at her workplace.
"I felt obliged to be submissive," she says. "We're conditioned to think no is not an option to say. These days, things have changed. We're talking about no is no. But back when I was a teenager...10-11 years ago...that was not an option," she says.
Parvathy shared that it was only now that she felt looking back that she could have said no in all those instances and named the harassers. Adding that she was glad stories like Weinstein and the news about the Malayalam film industry (a reference to the Malayalam actor sexual assault case) were coming out, the actor said that when people from other industries told her they were sorry to hear of what was going on in her industry, she retorted that she was sorry it was happening in theirs too but that they were silent about it.
"At least we're making noise! We're doing something about it," she says.
Parvathy also spoke about her role as Sarah from Bangalore Days, an assertive and independent woman who happens to be on a wheelchair. She complimented Dulquer Salmaan as someone who believes in "give and take" despite being a young superstar. "He has a crazy sense of humour," she said.
Parvathy also shared her views on Irrfan Khan, Kamal Haasan (who she said was very disciplined) and Dhanush.