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Updated: August 31, 2012 20:19 IST

A star finds her way back

P. ANIMA
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AIMING HIGH Amala Paul. Photo: Nagara Gopal
The Hindu AIMING HIGH Amala Paul. Photo: Nagara Gopal

For Amala Paul “Run Baby Run” is her big ticket to Malayalam films

It’s homecoming of sorts for Amala Paul. As Mynaa, she created quite a flutter in Tamil. She left her mark in Telugu with the recent Love Failure opposite Siddharth. If her signature in mother-tongue Malayalam was due for long, she is hoping the Thiruvonam-release Run Baby Run will be the one. Directed by the grand old man of commercial cinema Joshiy and paired against Mohanlal, it couldn’t have got grander for Amala.

“I was waiting for a good break. A narration over the phone and I was right in, though I had date issues. This is one experience I will cherish my whole life,” says Amala, palpably excited. After a rather blink-and-miss appearance in Lal Jose’s Neelathamara and Dr Biju’s arty Akashatinte Niram, Amala is getting back into Malayalam — the mainstream, commercial way.

She has had many of those in Tamil, even lately — Vettai, Deiva Thirumagal, Mopphuzhudhum Un Karpanaigal. Yet a full-blooded commercial Malayalam movie is still a testing terrain, she says. The subtlety Malayalam demands was a challenge, says the actor. “I have been part of commercial projects, but Malayalam brings on a different kind of limitation. In Tamil, it is more experimental, it can be a bit larger-than-life, while in Telugu they love the elements of fantasy and the magical. But in Malayalam, the audience prefers to watch characters which are realistic and natural. So the first two to three days of Run Baby Run had me confused. I believed I was not emoting enough. Even in terms of dialogue delivery and modulation, it was good training,” says Amala over the telephone as she prepares to take a flight to Kochi.

If a similar role in Tamil or Telugu would be an adventure in terms of wardrobe and looks, Amala says, here even the kind of clothes a journalist would appear in is kept rooted.

Big break

The powerful role has made it worth the wait for the actor. But even when the big one in Malayalam eluded her, Amala says, her spirit never sagged. “I don’t subscribe to any kind of negative energy.” On one hand, her platter was full of Tamil and Telugu films with stars like Vikram and Madhavan. On the other, she says, “I was always confident that it would work in a big way. I grew up watching Malayalam films.”

If Amala says she is on cloud nine, it is not merely because of a big film with a big star. The 20-year-old has graduated resoundingly in Communicative English from St Teresa’s College, Kochi.

“It was an emotional thing for me. I come from an academically-inclined family and being in the industry is quite an accident for me. The only thing my dad asked was to have a basic graduation and it is my duty to give back. It was a challenge and I struggled. I remember coming back from the US and heading straight to the college to give my exams,” says Amala.

Films may have defined her past three years, but Amala says, “I was not dying to be an actress. I am not from a film family, like any other normal girl, I grew up watching cinema as an audience. Films were never in my dreams, dance was.”

But a short break post her class 12, stray photo shoots and endorsements later, she found herself in the Tamil Vikadakavi, a movie which would release much later riding on her Mynaa triumph.

“I had a tough time. It was a low-budget film and I did not even have the kind of comforts I had in my house. I struggled and even thought this was not my cup of tea.”

Yet fate intervened when Prabu Solomon gave her Mynaa. It was her education in cinema and lesson in acting. “Prabu Solomon is my mentor. He showed me what real cinema was, the good thing it can be when it is passion. I came to hear a lot of stories about actors. I went through disappointment with Sindhu Samaveli, but then Mynaa released, bringing positivity,” she remembers.

Soaking in her success now, the youngster has learnt to value the lessons struggle taught.

“My film struggle was a blessing. If I began with a big hero in a big film, I wouldn’t have known its value. I have grown phase by phase and I am absolutely passionate about my work now.”

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