With back-to-back releases in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam Amala Paul seems to be enjoying the best of three worlds

Last year, around this time, she was busy rushing through her college assignments and cramming notes for her degree examinations. All this, in between power-packed promotions for three of her films.

That way, 2013 has so far been a mix of work and leisure for the doe-eyed Amala Paul. The actor spent two months in Barcelona, where she shot for Puri Jagannadh’s Allu Arjun-starrer Iddarammayilatho (Telugu). Then, she moved to Sydney for director Vijay’s Vijay-starrer Thalaivaa. “For three months, I worked in sets so different from ours. I almost thought I was working in Hollywood! The protocol and the level of planning were so different,” she says.

Amala’s now back in the country, and shooting for director Samudirakani’s bilingual Nimirndhu Nil/Janda Pai Kapiraju with Jayam Ravi in Tamil and Nani in Telugu. This is her second bilingual after Kaadhalil Sodhupuvadhu Yeppadi/Love Failure. “I owe much to the film. It earned me a lot of fans in Andhra Pradesh. So many youngsters identified with it.”

After four movies in Telugu (Bejawada, Naayak, Love Failure and Iddarammayilatho) and shooting for yet another one, Amala says she has picked up the language quite well. “I can now speak almost fluently and can understand Telugu,” says the actor who has had a good run in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam (her last film was the hit Run, Baby Run with Mohanlal).

Amala, still spoken about for her class act in Prabu Solomon’s Mynaa, has a lot riding on Thalaivaa too. “It’s a privilege to act with Vijay this early in my career. Most of us entering the industry have dreamed of being cast with him!” As for the Thalaivaa unit, Amala says, it was like family. “This is my second film with director Vijay after Deiva Thirumagal, my fourth with cinematographer Nirav Shah…”

“I’m delighted with the way the film has shaped out; it’s very different from what I’ve done so far. I’ve had a total makeover,” she says.

Iddarammayilatho, she says, also helped her get out of her comfort zone. “I play Komali, a Brahmin girl, in the movie, and since we shot in one stretch, I almost lived that role during the course of the shooting. Such a luxury in these times, when we keep moving among sets.”

Speaking about working with Samudirakani, she says she is no longer upset that she never went to film school! “It’s been a great learning experience working with him. I play a regular Chennai girl in the film.”

Amala has always managed to strike a balance between arthouse and commercial cinema. She did the lyrical Mynaa and followed it up with the frothy KSY, the fun-filled Vettai and went back to the philosophical Malayalam Akasathinte Niram. “That’s true,” she laughs. “I’m happy to be in a position where I get to choose the kind of films I want to do. People respect me as a performer, and I’m delighted about that. I get offered intense, performance-oriented roles as well as those that require me to be bubbly. I’ve been lucky not to get typecast. Even when I do choose films that are ‘commercial’, I add my two bits to it. I like to get under the skin of the character,” she says.

Now that she’s finished her degree in Communicative English, scoring 86 per cent, is she planning to continue her studies? “Not really. I worked very hard, trying to straddle two different worlds. I still miss college, but I’d like to give studies a break. In the next two years, I want to see myself as more mature and more attached to my cinema family,” she concludes.