Anna, in the recent ‘Annayum Rasoolum’, has struck a chord. Andrea Jeremiah talks about her debut role in Malayalam

The mysterious air surrounding Anna in Rajeev Ravi’s Annayum Rasoolum hasn’t left Andrea Jeremiah completely. She appears aloof, hesitantly agrees for an interview, and is briefly preoccupied with her cell phone. After mild coaxing, she settles down to speak.

As Anna, she effortlessly slipped into the persona of an ordinary girl bogged down by life’s predicaments. “Anna’s character is such that everything happens within her. She is withdrawn from the world; she is a passive participant in her own life. Rasool is like her ticket to freedom, the very thing she has been dreaming of. And that is why she falls in love with him,” Andrea says, about her first role in a Malayalam film.

Becoming Anna

Few dialogues mark the relationship between Rasool and Anna, most of it is communicated through stolen glances and whispers. “But that is the beauty of it,” Andrea says. “I became Anna just like that. I do not wear a yellow sari every day and get on a boat; I don’t wear a name tag. But then, acting is about being someone you are not. And that is the challenge, isn’t it?” she asks.

The film, which released last Friday, is garnering rave reviews for its poignant, lyrical narrative. When she received a call from Rajeev Ravi offering her the role, Andrea accepted it quite simply, but did not have a clear idea about the role. “I didn’t know what I was getting into. I knew it was a love story and I wanted to do it. I am a huge romantic,” she says, pushing her hair back. She has a boil on her left eye lid, a make-up allergy, she informs. For Annayum Rasoolum, Andrea did not wear make-up. “Rajeev wanted a natural look. Then again, I am not a fan of make-up myself.”

Tamil and Telugu films

Born and brought up in Chennai, Andrea has done notable roles in Tamil cinema and a few in Telugu. But an acting career was never on the cards. “I have never thought of myself as an actor. Every time I tried to run away from films, they seemed to follow me,” she says. Her first break came with Gautham Menon’s Pachaikili Muthucharam. But her most enduring passion has been singing. She has sung in 27 films in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam (‘Kando Kando…’ for Annayum Rasoolum), some of them chartbusters such as ‘Kannum kannum Nokia...’. Singing is something that comes to her naturally. “I have been singing always, right from my childhood. I was also good in studies, topped my classes. I was almost on the verge of studying medicine. But then, I realised I would have to give up singing. That is when it dawned on me. That I could have a career in music,” she says.

Andrea is careful about roles she picks. “I am not a method actor. I would call myself a spontaneous actor. But for every role that I am doing, I associate with a core quality of the character and then hold on to it,” she says. However, there are roles she wishes she had not done. “Its not that I have anything against the filmmaker or the cast. It was just that I was only 20 and I played a young mother. It unfortunately led to a lot of stereotypes,” she says, about Pachaikili...

Andrea does not particularly like watching films. “It’s such a taxing thing. I get too involved and I just can’t relax. I am a sitcom junkie. If I’ve nothing to do, I am at home, watching sitcoms,” she says.

Andrea has warm things to say about the Malayalam film industry. “I like the way the industry works and the style of filmmaking here,” she says. She will appear in the Kamal Hassan trilingual blockbuster Vishwaroopam and has signed a couple of more films in Tamil.