Who would not have been swayed by Aparna Balamurali's charm in 'Veyyon Silli'? Now, after a long wait, the actor's Soorarai Pottru, in which she has acted with Suriya, is due for release on November 12 on Amazon Prime Video.
Aparna, who shot to fame with her portrayal of Jimsy in Maheshinte Prathikaram, is a familiar face in Malayalam as well as Tamil. In Soorarai Pottru, which is based on the real life story of Captain Gopinath who started India's first low-cost airline, she plays the hero Maara's wife, Bommi. And not just that, she also speaks the Madurai dialect.
In an interview with TNM, Aparna talks about how she landed the role, her experience of working with director Sudha Kongara and how she wishes people's understanding of a 'bold woman' character would change.
This film is based on the real life story of Captain Gopinath. What about your character Bommi?
My character is based on his wife (Bhargavi Gopinath) only, and what her role was in making his dream into a reality. It's not a small part, she was hugely involved and contributed a lot to setting up Air Deccan. Did you meet Bhargavi? No, I did not meet her. This film doesn't have the characters copying the body language of the real life people. We have only taken their characteristics and the story of how they reached their goal. It's more about their principles and their story.
How did you land this role?
During Sarvam Thala Mayam, I got to know that Sudha ma'am is a good friend of GV sir (GV Prakash). We got connected through him. When I messaged her, she asked me to send her my photos. After that, I also went to Chennai for an audition. The first audition was actually not that successful because of my slang. I later sent her a video of my performance.
I've heard that Sudha Kongara is a very detail-oriented director and that she plans ahead a lot. What was your experience?
Yes, she is like that. She never compromises or gives up on anything. She tries her best to get what she wants. My character is an example of that. She was convinced about me doing the role, so she gave me a lot of homework. She made me work for it. I had the responsibility of making the character the best I could. Sudha ma'am is also very particular that her female characters shouldn't be placed at a lower level. While writing, she was clear about what attitude each character would have. She had thought through all the details. I think that has reflected very well in the film.
You speak the Madurai dialect in this film. Was it hard for you to master it?
It was very difficult. There are many differences between Tamil words spoken in the Madurai dialect and the other Tamil that I'm familiar with. Even people who know Tamil otherwise may not find it easy. Many people trained me. During dubbing, two people were sitting right next to me to make sure I was getting the dialect right. It's one of those films where you feel satisfied about all the work that you've put in.
Aparna and Suriya in Soorarai Pottru/ Amazon Prime Video
There are many heroines who opt for dubbing artistes. Did you not want to do that?
It's not just that. I have never decided by myself to use a dubbing artiste. If it doesn't work at all and the director says so, only then I would do it. Sudha ma'am was very particular that I should dub for myself. We worked towards that. In Sarvam Thala Mayam, it was sync sound. In 8 Thottakal, I couldn't do it and it didn't come out well. My throat was also in bad shape and because there was a time limit, we did the dubbing with someone else.
You share an amazing chemistry with Suriya in the promos that we've seen so far. How did the two of you work that out?
It didn't feel like a great deal when we were doing it. It was actually very simple and it has come out so well. It's like how we say, 'Half is what we do and the other half is what God does'. We were given an outline and we would work with that. In fact, when the first schedule was done, the whole set was happy with the chemistry. Suriya sir is known as a romantic hero, but ma'am said that this level of chemistry won't happen easily with everyone. I felt really happy. It's also because of the kind of person he is. He's a very cool person and I enjoyed working with him a lot.
Watch: 'Veyyon Silli' song from Soorarai Pottru
Your family has film connections. Growing up, did you always want to be in cinema?
My father's uncle KP Udayabhanu sir was in Malayalam film music, but I wasn't really familiar with the industry and I never thought of becoming an actor. Not that I didn't want to, it just never occurred to me. But after Maheshinte Prathikaram, where I got such a good character, I decided to stick on and that's how I reached till here.
Do you feel life has changed a lot after you became an actor?
Definitely. I had to take a break from college. I couldn't finish my studies with my batch. I don't enjoy a lot of these things and I do enjoy a lot of it (laughs).
What don't you enjoy about being a star?
I'm a person who wants to go out without thinking twice. I don't like wondering whether it would be okay for me to go somewhere. I do go out a lot but I don't like having to think about it and having second thoughts. It's not always practical and that's something I hate.
The film industry tends to typecast women actors as girl-next-door, glam doll etc., if they have tasted success in one particular role. Has that happened to you?
I used to face this pattern in the beginning. When I did Maheshinte Prathikaram, everybody came up with 'bold girl' characters. But there was no essence, there was nothing magical about them. They'll want the bold girl to be from a very poor family, someone who doesn't have anything. I feel the times have changed. Definitely there are people from such backgrounds who have achieved a lot in life, but every bold character doesn't have to be so. It needn't be the same kind of 'bold' character with the same story. After Maheshinte Prathikaram, the role I enjoyed doing the most was Anu in Sunday Holiday.
Watch: Aparna and Fahadh in Maheshinte Prathikaram
What makes you say yes to a role?
If you take the example of Sunday Holiday, as soon I heard the story, I felt I had to do it. I liked it a lot and decided to do it then and there. Now, when it comes to characters, I'm really scared because I have done Soorarai Pottru, and after that, when I choose a character, I want it to have something. When the film releases and you see Bommi, you will understand how powerful a role it is. I'm happy with all the characters I've done till date but now, I will be extra careful after doing Bommi.
Are you upset that the film couldn't release in theatres?
Certainly. That would have been a different experience, the celebrations would have been on another level. Watching it on the big screen with others is something else. But, I also couldn't wait any more! (laughs). So it does make me happy that the film is coming out at last.
You've worked in Malayalam and Tamil films. Is the culture in the industries different?
I'm very comfortable in the Malayalam industry because I know everyone, they're familiar faces and it's easy to mingle with them. When it comes to Tamil, I have an outsider's outlook. But I felt super comfortable on 2D's sets (the producer). I felt at home.
If you could play the solo lead in a film, which genre would you pick and why?
I would pick a biopic. I was inspired by Keerthy Suresh's Mahanati, if we're speaking of recent times. She's a very young actor who did that character on another level. So that's an inspiration..
Which real life person's biopic do you think you could do?
I haven't thought about that (laughs). But if it's a dancer, I would be super happy because that's something I want to do. I haven't got that many opportunities to dance on screen.