In this exclusive interview, Kalyani talks about coming from a star family, her experiences on the sets of her first movie and the possibility of doing Malayalam films.

Interview Actor Kalyani Priyadarshan on the pressures and perks of being a star kid
Flix Interview Monday, February 19, 2018 - 18:33

It wasn’t much of a surprise when Kalyani Priyadarshan, who practically grew up on movie sets, chose to enter filmdom.

“I was constantly visiting my father’s sets. Sometimes I even spent my vacations on sets,” laughs Kalyani. The actor is the daughter of two very prominent showbiz personalities – director Priyadarshan and actor Lissy, well known for their contribution to the Malayalam film industry.

Although Kalyani made her debut with the Telugu film Hello, starring alongside Akhil Akkineni, she has previously dabbled in set designing under the tutelage of production designer Sabu Cyril.

TNM caught up with the actor for an exclusive and here are some excerpts.

Did you always know that you wanted to get into acting?

Acting wasn’t part of my plans initially. I am a very sensitive person and for long I wasn’t sure if I was cut out to be an actor. I am the kind of person who takes criticism very personally. However, I had an innate desire to be a part of cinema, so I chose to work behind the scenes first. I did my bachelor’s in designing from the US and as a start, I worked as an assistant production designer for Krrish 3 (2013) and Iru Mugan (2016) with Sabu Cyril sir.

Being a star kid, would you say you had a smooth entry into films?

My parents have always believed in me even before I entered films. They never give me direct advice but I bank a lot on the kind of emotional support they give me – it’s hard to explain. Everyone thinks that being a star kid gives us an easy ticket. But I feel it is hard, especially the pressure we deal with and the spotlight we’re put under.

Did you not consider debuting in one of your father’s films?

While it was possible for me to have joined one of my father’s projects, he insisted that I make my own way in the industry.

“You have to believe that you deserve to be here,” he told me. And that has helped me greatly. I am absolutely happy to have worked with director Vikram Kumar for my debut.

How did you handle the language barrier in your first film?

I didn’t know a word in Telugu and Hello was the first best offer I got. My father, however, was very confident about Vikram Kumar. Trust your director is what he told me, and I took the plunge.

Did your parents help you prepare for the film?

It might sound surprising but more than my mum, it was my dad from whom I took acting inspiration. He is an incredible actor and not many know this side of him. I constantly keep telling him that he should act one day!

But both of them had no idea what I was doing in Hello. Only after watching the teaser did they get some idea.

How did your parents react to Hello?

Well, my mother is an extremely emotional person and she is my biggest fan. She always loves everything I do. I remember, after watching the film, she hugged me and cried for about ten minutes. And then she did the same to the director. That’s how much she loved and appreciated it!

My dad, though, is the extreme opposite. He is my biggest critic and every time I happen to do something wrong, he’d go on about it for hours. After watching Hello, he didn’t say a word! Now, that was a great compliment coming from him.

Tell us about your experience on the sets of Hello.

It was a great team to work with. Being new to the language, they’d give me the dialogues a day before to practise. Director Vikram Kumar moulded me so well for the character. Akhil is one of the most hardworking actors I’ve seen on sets, and I’ve seen quite a few actors on sets – I know how they are off screen. He is very focussed, both on and off sets.

The dialogue ‘I hate you’ from the film has now become very famous. But did you face any negative feedback for the film?

Everything I heard so far has all been encouraging and positive. There might be negative feedback as well, but I haven’t received any.

After working behind the scenes, how did it feel to don the acting hat?

For the first couple of days during my shoot, I was all over the place. Having worked as a production design assistant, my first instinct was to get everything under control. It cost me a great deal and I learned to calm down. I then understood why actors were only focussed on what they did. I learned to not be super-involved with what happened behind the scenes.

You are family friends with actor Mohanlal. How did he react to your debut?

He is someone I look up to. I grew up watching him perform on sets and his feedback means a great deal to me. He’s not one who says a lot, and so after watching Hello, he hugged me to express how much he liked it.

Tell us about your future projects.

I owe deeply to Malayalam cinema and there’s no doubt I’ll do a film there. But that being home turf, I am extremely careful and choosy when it comes to selecting scripts. I also have a good connection with Tamil, having studied in Chennai. So I hope to be making a film in Tamil soon. But right now, I’ve officially signed a film in Telugu with director Sudheer Varma opposite Sharwanand.

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