Mumbai-based Dayana Erappa is on a dream run, as she awaits the release of her first film -- Chekka Chivantha Vaanam. “Mani Ratnam sir has made the whole journey beautiful -- that I want to do more films in Tamil,” she smiles.
The model-turned-actor plays Chaya and is paired opposite Simbu in the multi-starrer. “Chaya is adventurous, and I could relate a lot to her. As for Simbu, he and I share an easy chemistry. Our relationship as a couple is something, I believe has been portrayed beautifully. Simbu isn’t just a fun person to be around with but also very professional.”
Dayana says she experienced a sense of fulfilment on being a part of Chekka Chivantha Vaanam. “I grew up watching Mani sir’s films including Nayagan and Mouna Ragam. I never thought I’d act in his film -- let alone being considered as a heroine!”
The actor recalls how she bagged Chekka Chivantha Vaanam. “One of the assistant directors called me and asked if I knew Tamil or Telugu. I couldn’t believe someone from Mani sir’s team approached me. I thought it was a prank call and searched his name on Facebook. I didn’t want to email my high-resolution pictures to a random guy,” she laughs.
Dayana waited for a couple of months after the auditions. “When I was told I’d be acting in Mani Ratnam’s direction, I didn’t know how to react. In fact, I asked nothing about my role. I knew I was in good hands because women have been depicted gracefully in all of Mani sir’s films. I flew from Mumbai to Chennai and met him. Those moments were euphoric,” she gushes.
For someone with no formal training in films, Dayana had to attend acting workshops.
“Only then I knew Simbu was my co-star. I had watched his films, and he’s a terrific actor. I must admit I felt nervous, but he made me comfortable. Simbu helped me with dialogues,” she smiles.
Speaking about Mani Ratnam, she says he’s the best mentor that any actor could have. “He understands his actors extremely well. On the first day of the shoot, I remember he said, “Kanna, ippadithaan nadikkanum. (This is how you should act) He was so kind!”
Dayana couldn’t stop praising her co-stars. “I met all of them during the audio launch. They never treated me like a newcomer. They also complimented me for my acting skills, which was unexpected!”
She has also dubbed for her role in Chekka Chivantha Vaanam. “Naan Tamil pesuvenu sonna yaarume namba maatendraanga! (Nobody believes me if I say I speak Tamil)”
The actor feels her USP is that she can fit all genres comfortably from arthouse to commercial cinema. “I’ve just ventured into films, and I am keeping options open. I’d also love to perform dance numbers,” she says.
Who’s her inspiration? “Radhika Apte,” pat comes the answer. “In fact, a lot of people say I look like her. I admire her totally and want to be like her. She experiments with her choice of roles in her films. This is something that I’d like to do in my career as well!”
Dayana watches Tamil films and is a huge fan of Rajinikanth.
“I’d have watched Baashha at least 30 times roughly,” she bursts into laughter. She also likes Kamal Haasan, Ajith, Vikram, Vijay, and Suriya.
“Someday I want to share screen space with these stars!” she says.
Dayana loves Chennai and adds that whenever she visits the city, she eats Thalapakatti Biryani. “Chennai has the best theatres and food outlets. In particular, I’m a fan of getti chutneys they serve in the restaurants,” she signs off.