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Ms. Confidence

Saraswathy Nagarajan
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Chat Actor Priyamani says it is the script that makes her say yes to a role in a film. She plays the female lead in B. Unnikrishnan's ‘Grandmaster.' Saraswathy Nagarajan

Priyamani is back in Mollywood, this time as Mohanlal's heroine in B. Unnikrishnan's ‘Grandmaster.' After her commendable performance as Padmasree in ‘Pranchiettan and the Saint,' a city-bred architect who yearns for her roots, she will now be seen as Deepthi, a criminal lawyer who is separated from her husband.

Elaborating on her role and the film Priyamani says: “This is my first film with Mohanlal. Deepthi is married to Chandrasekharan, a police officer, enacted by Mohanlal. However, due to circumstances, they are separated. How and why they are forced to work together after their break is explained in the film. The script, in fact, joins the dots in the lives of these characters. ‘Grandmaster' is a nice crime thriller.”

Saying all the right things about “working with a legend like Mohanlal,” she adds that each time she gets the opportunity to work with actors like Mohanlal and Mammootty, it is also an opportunity to observe them at work and experience how they breathe life into their characters.

“It is a pleasure and an honour to work with such actors. One learns so much by working with them… how they express emotions, their reactions in a close-up shot and so on,” gushes Priyamani.

Speaking on the phone from Bangalore, the heroine with oomph and talent, says it is the originality of a script and the significance of her character in the film that attracts her to a movie. “I have always got interesting roles in Malayalam cinema. There is such a vast variety of themes in Malayalam movies now. Films with fresh themes and able directors are a pleasure to associate yourself with. And I consider myself lucky to have got the opportunity to work with veterans and young directors in almost all the South Indian languages, including Malayalam. I have worked with directors such as Bharathiraja, Ameer, Ranjith, Ram Gopal Verma, Mani Ratnam…,” says Ms. Confidence.

Her confidence is not misplaced. After she finished her work on his film, Unnikrishnan tweeted: ‘Ur [you are] a terrific actor, easily the best among the young lot in the South and great fun to work with.'

Worth the wait

However, the actor who made her debut in the Telugu film ‘Evare Atagaadu' in 2003 had to wait till 2007 for a ‘Paruthi Veeran' to woo the box office. Winning the National Film Award for Best Actress for her work in ‘Paruthi Veeran' in 2006, and the Filmfare award for her role as Malavika in Ranjith's ‘Thirakatha' proved that she could hold her own among the divas in the country.

But for a ‘Satyam,' all of Priyamani's films in Malayalam have clicked at the box office. Ranjith's ‘Thirakatha' and ‘Pranchiettan…,' and Deepan's ‘Puthiya Mugham,' which starred her were winners all the way.

In addition to her films in Malayalam, her filmography is studded with hits in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada, for this model-turned-actor believes in giving her best to each assignment of hers. And language has never been a barrier to her as she breezily emphasises that she is comfortable in all the South Indian languages and Hindi.

“Variety of characters and themes bring out the best in me. It is gut instinct that guides me when I say yes to a film. I do discuss the pros and cons of the script, the director and my character with my family and my manager but the final decision is mine,” she says.

Priyamani adds that she is working in three Kannada films and a Hindi film might be in the offing “but since I have not signed the papers, I do not want to talk about it.”

Before she signs off, Priyamani, who is the granddaughter of the late Carnatic vocalist Kamala Kailas, agrees that it would be nice if she were given the opportunity to sing in a film. Right now, it is the actor who is on song.

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