It has been 10 years since Bhavana entered the Malayalam film industry with a noteworthy role in Nammal. The actor is still going strong with some interesting roles to her credit.
It has been 10 ten years since a dusky, petite girl lit up the big screens across Kerala with her bright smile. The film was Nammal, one of the big hits of 2002, and the girl wasn’t actually dusky. “I was just 16 then, and you can imagine how difficult it must have been for me to look at the mirror with all that dark black make-up on every day. Nobody could recognise me; it was as if somebody was joining the location every day and somebody else was coming out to face the camera. Now I realise that that is what acting is all about. But I didn’t understand that fact then,” says Bhavana, the surprise package of Nammal.
In a tête-à-tête with Friday Review at Kozhikode recently, Bhavana looked back at her 10 ten years in cinema. The actor is looking forward to an exciting stage of her career. At present she is doing a film with Hariharan (that too with a script by M.T. Vasudevan Nair) and is making her presence felt in films of various South Indian languages too. Excerpts.
Working with the M.T.-Hariharan team is a dream for every actor in Malayalam cinema
I feel fortunate to be a part of a team that has given Malayalam cinema many unforgettable films. I believe Ezhamathe Varavu has come at the right time in my career. To be honest, I was surprised when I was cast in this film. Hariharan told me he was confident I would be able to live up to his expectations though he had only seen me doing comedies – a far cry from my role in this film. I was shooting for a Kannada film in Bangalore when the phone call came. I didn’t have to think twice before I agreed to do the role of Bhanu. It is undoubtedly one of the strongest characters of my career. Bhanu is a remarkable woman, very mature. She is one of those powerful female protagonists M.T. has written for the screen. I was bowled over when I read the script.
You have had to work hard to reach where you have, haven’t you? There were times when you had to do roles that were far less important than that of the heroine.
Yes, it hasn’t been easy for me. In fact, for several years I used to tell my parents: ‘I will be kicked out of Malayalam cinema this year’. I was even planning to join some course to study. But somehow, I continued to get good roles at regular intervals and slowly established myself. Then I took one wise decision: to act in Tamil films. When you make it big in Tamil, your reputation and remuneration also double in Malayalam.
And you are doing well in Tamil
My debut Tamil film, Chithiram Pesuthadi, was well received at the box office as well as by critics. I went on to act in more Tamil films such as Veyil, Deepavali, and Jayamkondaan and I enjoyed doing those films. I also refused a lot of Tamil films because of the kind of roles I received.
You moved to Kannada and succeeded there too
Yes, my films such as Jackie, Only Vishnuvardhana and Romeo were all hits. I am currently doing Topiwala, Bachchan and Yare Kookadalli.
And you are back in Malayalam with Ozhimuri and Trivandrum Lodge
I did a cameo in Trivandrum Lodge mainly because of Anoop Menon, and I am glad that I did it. I acted in Ozhimuri because I liked the story narrated to me by director Madhupal and I wanted to be part of a good film. I have more interesting films lined up for next year. I will be doing Honey Bee, directed by Jean Paul (actor and director Lal’s son), which has Fahadh Faasil and Asif Ali in the cast. I am also doing Kalavoor Ravikumar’s new film. I do not want to miss out on any good Malayalam film. I feel proud to be part of Malayalam cinema, which, I believe, boasts the finest acting talents outside Hollywood. Yes, I have always been in awe of Hollywood actors. They have so many great actors. You will find perfection even in the smallest of roles they do. I adore Meryl Streep. And Aubrey Hepburn is another great favourite; I loved her in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.
How do you look back at Nammal?
I will never forget an elderly woman from the slum who came up to me and said: ‘It is so wonderful to see a girl from this slum acting in a film.’ I felt sad when I wasn’t recognised at the theatre screening of Nammal. Everyone was going crazy when they saw the other members of the cast, but nobody bothered with me. I was happy when Nammal fetched me a State Film special jury award. It also felt nice winning the Sate award for the second best actress for Daivanamathil, three years later, for the role of Sameera.