“The name's Parvathy, not Parvathy Menon, just Parvathy,” quips the young actor as we sit down for a chat. “Funnily enough, I don't know where the surname came from. Officially, on my class 10 certificate and even on my passport, it's just Parvathy because my father forgot to write down my surname on the school register. Incidentally, my surname is T.K. for Thiruvoth Kottuvatta, our tharavadu in Atholi, Kozhikode,” adds the spunky lass, who is known for her roles in Out of Syllabus, Notebook, Flash and Vinodayatra in Malayalam.
Parvathy is an even bigger star in Kannada thanks to sterling roles in blockbusters Milana and Prithvi (both opposite superstar Puneet Rajkumar), and in Tamil for her superb performance as Mari in the critically-acclaimed Poo, which not only earned her numerous awards, including the Filmfare award for best actress, but also got her the moniker ‘Poo' Parvathy. After a gap of four years, the actor returns to Malayalam with City of God.
A typical actor
Listening to Parvathy's non-stop chatter about her reel and real life for a good hour and then some, you get the feeling that this VJ-turned-actor is quite unlike those typical filmy divas. For instance, she doesn't seem to care two hoots about fame and fortune and she isn't into adding numbers to her filmography (she has acted in only nine films in the six years she's been in the industry).
She claims to “dislike socialising and partying,” she doesn't have an entourage that panders to her every move, and she couldn't care less about her appearance – she's usually found “slumming around” sans make-up and dressed in jeans and tee, with her huge prescription glasses perched on her nose and her mane of unwieldy curls in a loose knot.
A year ago, when she was barely 22, Parvathy moved out of her parent's home in the city to Kochi. Her main mode of transportation in Kochi, until she appropriated her parents' car a couple of weeks ago, was a bicycle! Plus she is a “bona fide bookworm,” who lugs around books wherever she goes (there's a copy of Alice Walker's By the Light of My Father's Smile in her bag). And, of course, films will naturally take a back seat for the coming months as she completes assignments for the first year of her masters in English literature, which is not surprising considering her reputation for being a exemplary student at All Saints College, where she studied literature.
Well, looks like we have a nerd in our midst (she balks). A misfit then. (Laughs) “I'm just a regular (soon-to-be) 23-year-old. I just happen to be an actor by profession. Agreed, I keep a low profile. But that's because I'm actually the queen of solitude, an introvert, who is content with my own company, my books, my writing and my studies. I've even been known not to step out of my apartment for 15 days straight!” says the actor.
She credits her parents P. Vinodkumar and T.K. Ushakumari, both lawyers, for inculcating that streak of independence in her. “They encouraged me to be independent and think independently. They treated my brother, Karunakaran, and I as individuals, trusted us enough to make sensible choices for ourselves, and best of all gave us their blessing to go fly,” says Parvathy, who was a popular VJ on Kiran TV before she was bitten by the acting bug.
Taking to Mollywood
“I knew squat about films and acting when I was called to act in Out of Syllabus (2006). In fact, I wasn't even interested in films while in school (Kendriya Vidyalaya, Pangode). I'd found my home in literature when I was in college but I was curious about acting and figured that I'd give it a shot. At the end of the shoot, I still wasn't convinced that this is what I wanted to do with life. Then Roshann Andrews called me for Notebook and I was picked for the role of Pooja – one of the leads – though I had auditioned for a minor role.
After Notebook I knew that acting is my profession,” says the actor, who accepts only one role at a time and that too only if she feels that it's something different. Then what about her arm candy roles in Milana/Prithvi? “Arm candy roles are part of the learning process too. I did the whole sari twirling-romancing thing and I realised that it's not my school of filmmaking. That said I don't want to limit myself to realistic/poetic movies. I want to be flexible. I want to do something crazy like an Om Shanti Om,” says Parvathy.
She also makes it a point to insist on reading the script before accepting a film – an unconventional request that undoubtedly raises a few eyebrows. “Yes it does take people back. But I feel that it's imperative that actors know what they are getting into before they sign up for a film. Everybody, even daily wage workers, has a job profile. Then why not an actor?” asks Parvathy, with a shake of her head. Talking about scripts, with her fascination for literature and films, can we look forward to a script written by her? Pat comes the reply, in her characteristic joie de vivre: “Count on it!”
She'd love to play Lady Macbeth on screen
She has a way with languages and knows Hindi, Tamil, Kannada and French, in addition to Malayalam and English.
She is a fan of Smita Patil, Nasseruddin Shah, Shabana Azmi, Bharat Gopi and Srividya
She trained in Bharatanatyam for 11 years
Her favourite books are Khasakkinte Ithihasam, By the Light of My Father's Smile, The Kite Runner, Mayyazhi Puzhayude Theerangalil and Doctors.