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Updated: August 6, 2010 16:51 IST

Frames of self-discovery

Sangeeta
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In the spotlight: Kamalini Mukherjee Photo: Mohammad Yousuf
The Hindu In the spotlight: Kamalini Mukherjee Photo: Mohammad Yousuf

Kamalini Mukherjee says portraying Pemmana in ‘Kutty Srank’ was a journey of self-discovery.

Malayalam cinema occasionally has had such dusky, sensuous, unconventional, non-Malayali beauties stunning us with their superb histrionics and screen presence – Smita Patil in ‘Chidambaram,' Pallavi Joshi in ‘Theertham,' Archana in ‘Sammohanam,' to name a few. They never had an active presence in Mollywood except for those brilliant appearances. It was as if those roles were tailor made for them – their body structure, skin tone, expressions and artistic temperament contributing largely towards the character portrayals. They skilfully unravelled the layers of feminine grace on screen giving Malayalis some intimate, unforgettable moments of womanhood. The latest and luminous addition to the list is Kamalini Mukherjee in Shaji N. Karun's ‘Kutty Srank.' Kamalini plays Pemmana, one of the three loves of Kutty Srank, played by Mammootty.

Femme fatale

From a besotted, innocent teenager to a cold-blooded murderer, Kamalini has effortlessly essayed a gamut of emotions of the femme fatale, with a unique mix of innocence and prurience. The film marks a journey into a hitherto unexplored area, both in terms of her acting skills and language, says the actor.

“Though the language part was taken care off with ease, the acting part was quite challenging. Pemmana is a naive girl in the beginning of the story. It is only when she falls in love with Srank that she slowly becomes a woman. So it is actually a coming of age for Pemmana, with Srank acting as a catalyst,” explains the actor stating that she had to go back to her childhood to get into Pemmana's skin. “Pemmana's feelings of love, lust and belonging are more or less universal. But being innocent and childlike needed some work, since I am out of that adolescent spirit and glory,” says Kamalini.

“This role is drastically different from everything I have done so far. There is an inherent sensuality in Pemmana that unfolds bit by bit as she falls in love,” describes Kamalini of her first ever role in Malayalam, which incidentally also casts her as the first ever woman to don a major role in Chavittunatakam, an art form mainly practised by the Christian community in Kerala.

“Pemmana takes part in the Chavittunatakam because her brother pushes her into it. She then sees it as a chance to get close to Srank who plays the lead. For me, it was an opportunity to get a peep into a different cultural ethos and era, which I enjoyed thoroughly, especially the sequences with Mammootty, for whom I have the greatest regard and respect.”

Kamalini remembers having seen Mammootty's performance for the first time in ‘Vidheyan,' when she, as a teenager, used to accompany her father to routine screenings at Nandan in Kolkata, her home town. She had secretly harboured ambitions to work with him since then, admits Kamalini.

“So when Shaji sir asked me for this film, I readily agreed at the prospect of working with Mammootty. I had seen ‘Piravi' before and had taken a liking for Shaji sir's style of filmmaking. So, ‘Kutty Srank,' for me, was a two-birds-with-one-stone sort of a thing,” says the actor who is currently busy with her Telugu and Bengali assignments.

She is thrilled about working on a Bengali film, as it is her mother tongue. The petite actor was introduced in Bollywood by Revathy in ‘Phir Milenge,' in which she played a significant supporting role. She was spotted by the Telugu industry where she has a number of super hits to her credit, and subsequently by Tamil cinema where she was seen in Gautam Menon's Kamal Hassan thriller ‘Vettayadu Vilayadu.'

“For me, language is not an issue. But the script, of course has to be appealing. As an actor, I aspire for diverse roles and I try and make the most out of what I get,” she concludes.

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