Striking a balance

Priya Mani   | Photo Credit: Sainu Whiteline

Priya Mani has an enviable presence in all the four South Indian languages. Much-appreciated for essaying serious and glamorous roles with élan, the National award-winning actor ventured into Bollywood as well through bilinguals Raavan and Raktacharithra II and her dance number with King Khan in Chennai Express.

Priya, who has roots in Kerala, has an impressive filmography in Mollywood, with roles in Thirakkatha, Grandmaster, and Pranchiyettan and the Saint. She has also managed to strike a fine balance between movies and television. At present, she is one of the judges of the show D4 Junior vs Senior on Mazhavil Manorama. In a brief chat with the Friday Review, she talks about judging the dance show, her career, and her forthcoming marriage. Excerpts:

You seem to be enjoying your stint on Malayalam television...

It is one big family for me. I have been part of all the four seasons of D 4 Dance and the 15-episode D4 Dance Reloaded series. I always look forward to the shoot. What I enjoy the most about the programme is that nothing is scripted. The jokes are on the spot and we make fun of each other... it might be about someone’s hairstyle or costume. But it is not meant to hurt anyone. More importantly, we judges are very particular about not vehemently criticising any of the dancers.

I have often heard that dancers from the south can’t match up to the talent and technique of those who we see on dance shows in Hindi channels. However, having been on the show for so long, I know that we have some amazing dancers here.

The show has been a learning experience for me as well. I am not perfect as a dancer. I was not even familiar with all the dance styles. However, now I know so much about different styles, the differences between them and so on.

Recently, I began appearing as a judge on Dhee, a dance reality show in Telugu (E TV). So I can proudly say that I have judged dance shows in all the four South Indian languages (laughs).

How do you look back at your 15-year-old career?

I have no regrets. Things may have slowed down a bit, but I am doing work at my own pace. There was a time when I hardly had time for my family. Now I am taking each day as it comes. I believe in quality and not quantity. I am not in any race to become the number one actress. If my focus was on the number of films to be done, I would have done many more projects.

I am currently working in a Kannada film, Dhwaja, a remake of the Tamil film, Kodi. I reprise Trisha’s character. I am also doing a Malayalam movie and the announcement will be made soon. I am lucky the Malayalam industry has given me substantial roles and I am grateful to the directors for that.

All the movies may not have done well, but my roles have been talked about and that makes me really happy. I have been treated very well wherever I have worked. If you have to compare different industries, I would say that in the south, the shoots start quite early in the day, whereas it is not so in Hindi.

You have never shied away from doing glamorous roles...

That was a conscious decision to some extent, because after I won the National Award for Paruthiveeran, I kept getting characters of the same mould. But I wanted to portray a different Priyamani and the opportunity came in films such as Malaikottai, where the audience saw me in modern outfits and with a new look.

Now that the Malayalam film industry is going through a turmoil post the arrest of actor Dileep, what is your take on that?

I would rather refrain from saying anything because I don’t want to end up saying anything that would trigger another debate. I am waiting to see how things pan out.

On your dream role, your marriage...

I want to do an out-and-out comedy character. That’s a genre I haven’t explored. Regarding my marriage, we have fixed the date, but I will formally announce it later.

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Printable version | May 13, 2021 1:16:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/interview-with-actor-priya-mani/article19407660.ece

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