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Updated: April 25, 2013 17:26 IST

Living the roles

Nita Sathyendran
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Actor Anumol
The Hindu Actor Anumol

Actor Anumol on her tryst with filmdom. Her film Akam hits theatres today

It was not too long ago that Anumol mesmerised us, sashaying across the screen to the tune of ‘Ande Londe…’ as the subtly coquettish Thankamani, the long-suffering wife of poet P. Kunjiraman Nair, in the biopic Ivan Megharoopan, directed by P. Balachandran. In the relatively short period of time since then, Anumol of the flowing locks and doe eyes has managed to make her presence felt in the Malayalam film industry. Now, Anumol is set to captivate audiences once again as the seductress Ragini in Akam, director Shalini Usha Nair’s adaptation of Malayalam litterateur Mayalatoor Ramakrishnan’s landmark novel Yakshi, which is releasing today. Let’s not also forget Anumol’s stunning act as Theyyam artiste Gauri in Manoj Kana’s Chayilyam, which is rumoured to have lost out by a whisker at this year’s National Film Awards.

“I was fortunate to start my career in Mollywood with Thankamani, Ragini and Gauri,” says Anumol. “It’s rare for an actor to get a chance to test his/her histrionic skills with roles as powerful and as author-backed and as varied as the aforementioned three. And that too at such an early stage in their career,” adds the affable actor.

In her singsong voice, over the phone from her native village of Naduvattam, near Pattambi, Palakkad, she continues to gush about the experience of “living” the three roles, even drawing parallels to her own rustic upbringing. She says she is village belle at heart, completely at home amid the greenery, the three temples that are the focal point of life in Naduvattam, the village pond that is the scene of many a childhood adventure, the local vayanashala (library)… “I was excited to act in Ivan Megharoopan because it was a story set in my part of the world and featuring my people – P. Kunhiraman maash (colloquial term for master) taught at Pattambi college. Honestly, I signed up for the film so that I could wear the mundu-neriyathu, typically worn by older women here!

“As for Akam, I am one of those who really believe in myths and legends – the kind who actually think that Gandharvas and Yakshis might just come for a visit! Also I had read Malayatoor’s Yakshi, borrowed from the vayanashala, and was intrigued by heroine Ragini’s latent power. I believe that my rusticity and my understanding of Ragini clinched me the role in Akam.

“In the case of Chayilyam’s Gauri, who has a dual role to play as a ‘shunned’ widow and a ‘divine’ Devakoothu artiste, I can well understand how she struggles to balance tradition with reality. After all, culture, art and tradition are rooted in village life,” explains Anumol, who started off her career in films with the Tamil flicks Kannukkulle, Ramar and Suran.

Prior to her entry into tinsel town, she was a television anchor, hosting the film-based show ‘8 p.m.’ on Kairali We channel.

“I didn’t even know what a director was until then,” she says, with a laugh. The actor, an engineer (she graduated from Hindustan College of Engineering Technology, Coimbatore), describes her entry into tinsel town and even the small screen as “accidental”.

She started hosting shows at the request of her dance teacher, Sreela, in the place of an anchor who failed to turn up. “I took up the mike and started talking non-stop as I usually do!” she says. Even then acting never really entered her head, considering that she gets nervous when she has to face the camera.

“I actually went for the auditions of Ivan Megharoopan, only because it was being held at the Cochin Media School, a venture that I am associated with. I felt immediately at ease with Balettan (Balachandran) and the story. I need to have a comfortable equation with the cast and crew for me to give my best shot and immerse myself in my character. Although, Shalini ma’am was very strict as a director she made me thoroughly comfortable and secure as Ragini. On Manoj’s set too I was so at ease that I forgot that I am Anumol. I started living and acting like Gauri!” says the actor, who is an accomplished Bharatanatyam and Mohiniyattam dancer.

“When I’m not living my roles, I like to dance. Actually I have my phases. Sometimes I dance, sometimes I drive for hours on end, sometimes I read…” she says as she winds up to head to Kochi for the many pre-release interviews on television.

After Akam, up next at the marquee for Anumol is Chayilyam. Then there’s God For Sale: Bhakthiprasthanam, in which she stars opposite Kunchacko Boban. She will soon start work on the political thriller Parayan Baki Vechathu, directed by Karim, an associate of late director Bharathan, in which she stars opposite Maqbool Salman. She’s also got an interesting role in the out-and-out comedy Vedi Vazhipadu, directed by Shambu Lekshmi Purushothaman, which will also start rolling next month.

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