Actor Archana Kavi on essaying Jewel in ‘Mummy & Me’ and bidding adieu to Kunjimalu.
With her expressive khol-rimmed eyes, her winsome smile and her gentle demeanour, Kunjimalu of ‘Neelathamara' quietly but surely endeared herself to legions of Malayali movie buffs as did her alter ego, actor Archana Kavi, who essayed the role with élan. It's not everyday that a teenager gets a dream debut with the likes of director Lal Jose and author M.T. Vasudevan Nair to guide her.
Still riding high on the success of her dream debut, Archana faces the litmus test today with the release of her second film, ‘Mummy & Me' directed by Jithu Joseph of ‘Detective' fame. In the film, which narrates the tale of the tumultuous relationship between a modern day teenager and her mother, Archana plays the lead role of a rebellious teenager named Jewel, while veteran actor Urvashi stars as her over-protective mother, Clara. Mukesh and Kunchako Boban also star in the film.
“‘Mummy & Me' is not a story of a typical mother-daughter fight nor is it your run-of the-mill tale of teenage rebellion. It is a story that can happen in real life. It narrates a phase that I believe every modern teenager goes through irrespective of gender,” says Archana, who was offered the role of Jewel only a couple of days before the release of ‘Neelathamara.' She was expecting this one too to be a “nadanrole” similar to that of Kunjimalu and was thus initially a bit apprehensive to take it on. That's when Jithu mailed her the script. “I was literally shocked out of my wits when I read the script because Jewel is so very like the real me! My father, Jose Kavi, read the script for ‘Mummy & Me' and he asked me: ‘Did you by any chance tell your own story to someone? That's how like Jewel I am,'” laughs Archana.
But saying goodbye to Kunjimalu, she says was a lot harder than she imagined. “I was so psyched leaving Kunjimalu behind that I called up everyone that was associated with ‘Neelathamara' and cried my eyes out. They had, I realised, become my family by then,” says the actor who adds that though Kunjimalu will always be her first love, she is now “revelling” in the role of Jewel.
As far as the roles go, Kunjimalu and Jewel can't be more different. If Kunjimalu is soft-spoken and gentle, Jewel is just the opposite. “She is a rebel of the first order. She is aggressive and has a definite idea what she wants. In fact, she is every other teenager you would find in this world – fun loving, energetic, know-it-all, rebellious, moody, and tempestuous, all rolled into one.”
And as far as the cast for ‘Mummy & Me' went things couldn't be more different. “In ‘Neelathamara' all of us were newcomers and behaved as such on the set, joking around and teasing each other. We also had the excuse that we were newcomers and used that very excuse whenever we messed up. In ‘Mummy& Me' everyone but me is a senior artiste. And I thought that I would have to mind my P's and Q's. But all of them put me at ease,” says the actor.
Of course she also had a veteran like Urvashi to guide her. Although Archana candidly admits that she was initially scared of the actor and remembers hounding the director about Urvashi's shooting schedule so that she could “prepare herself to face a legend,” when she finally met Urvashi, she says that she was taken aback to see how “youthful” Urvashi was. “She is always ready for a laugh. I still can't figure out why I was so scared of her that I actually forgot to yell back at her during a Clara-Jewel fight! Urvashi mam is such a natural actor; one of the finest we have. She taught me how to get into a character without worrying about how it would appear on screen,” says Archana.
Next up Archana has the rom-com ‘Best of Luck,' where she reunites with her ‘Neelathamara' co-stars Kailash and Rima Kallingal and teams up with another young star, Asif Ali. “I am choosy about my roles and don't want to act in everything that comes my way. If there is something different about a role from what I have done before then I will do it. After all I am a product of Lal Jose' standards of acting. He told me ‘Don't disappoint me' and I don't intend to!”