Adivasi with a difference

Catherine Tresa on playing a tribal woman opposite Arya in Kadamban

Tamil cinema has come a long way in its depiction of tribal women. Often, overtly commercial ventures have depicted them in exotic costumes with limited pastimes such as dancing and conducting religious rites. Who can forget the wide-eyed Subhashini who helplessly falls for Rajinikanth’s character in Johnny (1980) while dancing to ‘Aasaiya Kaathula Thoodhu Vittu’? They are also usual targets for preying men who come from cities, and end up suffering in silence.

Catherine Tresa’s tribal avatar, Radhi, in Kadamban, is far removed from those stereotypes. “She in uninhibited, menacing, gutsy and has spunk. It’s wonderful to play a character like that,” she says.

In order to prepare for her role, Catherine says she took it one day at a time, making trips to the shooting location and doing her own homework. “There have been many tribal girl roles, but I started by understanding what the director (Ragava) had in mind. I liked the plot; the emotions were high and justified. It’s a very ambitious project, one that has grand vision and also a lot of meat in its characters.”

Catherine, who was brought up in Dubai by Malayali parents, can now understand Tamil and Telugu to a good extent. “That’s bound to happen after a number of films.” But she gets her dialogues written in English (for example, ‘I am here’ literally becomes ‘Naa ingey irukken’). “The only other language I can read and write is Arabic.”

The effort did drain her out, but Catherine feels it was worth doing something different. She’s, however, clear that this is not a completely realistic film. “Kadamban is not a documentary, although it’s set in a tribal backdrop. There’s dancing and a whole lot of entertainment.”

Up next for Catherine is, Kadha Nayagan, a light-hearted comedy with Vishnu Vishal. “I’ll be back to playing a Chennai girl in that film.”

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Printable version | Feb 28, 2020 9:51:46 AM |

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