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Anna, who was noted in her debut film ‘Kumbalangi Nights’, talks about playing the lead in ‘Helen’, a survival thriller directed by Mathukutty Xavier.

Its new and experimental Actor Anna Ben to TNM on her upcoming film Helen
Flix Interview Friday, October 25, 2019 - 14:54

Sitting at her home in Kochi, Anna Ben listened as director Mathukutty Xavier narrated the story of Helen, a new film. She liked how he was making it all very visual. It was going to be his first feature film, Anna’s second. Her first, Kumbalangi Nights, had done insanely well. But it didn’t occur to Anna that she should choose her second carefully, that there’d be expectations from her. She used a simple formula to choose: she should enjoy working in the film.

“I don’t know if there’d be such expectations, it hasn’t struck me like that. I liked how Mathukutty made it all very visual, scene by scene. I also felt assured by the fact that Vineeth Sreenivasan (actor-singer-director) was producing it,” Anna says.

Helen is a survival thriller, she says, and she likes it that it is person-oriented, as different from female-oriented. “I play Helen, a girl. But it could happen to anyone, in a certain situation. It is an internal struggle. It is new and experimental. It needed a lot of work. I am nervous now, as the release is getting close,” she confesses.

The first poster had showed Anna in a waitress’s uniform, ready to take an order. “Helen wants to go to Canada to do nursing. Waitressing at a fast food joint is a part-time job that she takes up and the story happens one day while she is at work.”

Lal – Lal uncle to Anna – plays her dad, whom we see in the trailer as a worried man looking for his daughter. Then there is Aju Varghese, playing a cop. Noble Babu Thomas, one of the scriptwriters, plays Anna’s pair. Otherwise, it is mostly newcomers.

“That was different from Kumbalangi, where I was among a star cast. Mathew and Grace and I were new, but the others made us comfortable. It is the same in Helen. Lal uncle is like family, I have known him since I was a child,” Anna says.

The actor’s dad, Benny P Nayarambalam, is a scriptwriter who has been active since the early 1990s. Anna is therefore acquainted with the ways of cinema, it’s just that she didn’t realise she’d enjoy acting so much. Anna was a fashion designer in Bengaluru before she auditioned and won the role of Baby mol for Kumbalangi Nights. “Once it happened, I realised acting is something I needed. I enjoy it so much. It doesn’t matter how big or small a role is, as long as I know it’s something I’d enjoy doing.”

Anna is already working on her third movie, it’s being shot in Kozhikode as we speak. Yet to be titled, the film is directed by Musthafa, the actor who won a special mention at the National Awards for his performance in Ain. “It is a small story, with Roshan Mathew, Sreenath Bhasi, Tanvi from Ambili,” Anna says.

Curiously enough, all three of her films have been with first-time directors. “I know,” she laughs. No, she doesn’t say no to established directors, in fact one film is about to happen soon. “With Ranjan Pramod, I have just committed to it,” Anna says.

Also read: 'Bigil' review: Vijay's drama is an engaging and somewhat progressive star vehicle

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