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Amala Paul: ‘I have been looking to reinvent myself and Kudi Yedamaithe helped in that process’

Amala Paul plays a no-nonsense cop in the Telugu web series   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

“I might sound like I am giving a testimonial for a spa, but it was refreshing and rejuvenating to work with director Pawan Kumar,” laughs actor Amala Paul, during a long distance conversation from Kochi. Amala plays Durga, a no-nonsense cop who finds herself caught in events that seem to be repeating themselves on a time loop. The science fiction thriller Kudi Yedamaithe, her first full-fledged Telugu web series, will premiere on Aha on July 16. The Pawan Kumar-directed series also stars Rahul Vijay as a food delivery agent and an aspiring actor.

Incidentally, when the team was on the lookout for a female actor, Amala’s name was suggested by Nandini Reddy who had directed her for the story Meera in the Telugu anthology film Pitta Kathalu. The eight-episode series is the first collaboration between Aha, Pawan Kumar and Amala Paul. Edited excerpts from an interview with the actor:

Going by the teaser, we know that you play a cop, Durga, in a story where incidents are happening on a time loop. What else intrigued you about Durga?

When Nandini told me about the project, I kept saying ‘okay this sounds interesting, but what else Nandini…’ and then she said Durga is also an alcoholic. I found that intriguing — a sincere cop who is battling her darker side. I was hooked after I got a presentation from the Kudi Yedamaithe team. Sometimes, either at a party or when I am travelling, I come across people who make me curious. I can’t stop thinking about them and what made them the way they are. I felt that way about Durga and was keen to portray her.

You were part of online script reading sessions during lockdown. Did that help you gear up for an intensive shooting schedule beginning November 2020?

Oh yes. For Meera (Pitta Kathalu), I shot for about 15 days. Kudi Yedamaithe involved more time and as I don’t speak Telugu as fluently as I speak Tamil, I wanted to learn my lines and understand the emotions. Until I get comfortable in a language, be it Telugu or Hindi, it’s a little more stressful; then I am good to go. I have the tendency to over prepare. This time, after the reading sessions, I learnt to just be. It helped that Pawan is a perfectionist. In recent years, I’ve been looking to reinvent myself and working with him helped that process.

Amala Paul and Rahul VIjay

Amala Paul and Rahul VIjay   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

This is your 12th year in cinema. Does working with a new-age filmmaker make you look at your craft and cinema afresh?

It was rejuvenating and refreshing to work with Pawan. He is very creative. When I read a scene on paper and then see how he brings it alive on screen, it’s beautiful. He wanted to keep things in a realistic space. There are many scenes where Durga is in the police station going about her daily work. It isn’t all dramatic where a cop is mostly seen outdoors executing a plan. Cops deal with distressing issues each day and Durga doesn’t get too emotional. I had to get into that zone. Pawan knew where to let me underplay things and where to ask me to step it up and make it cinematic.

When someone begins narrating a script, do you instinctively know where it’s headed?

I first talk to them [director/writer] for a few minutes about their life to know where they come from. And most often, within five minutes of the narration, I know if I want to take up the project; I am very intuitive.

You were on a 28-day yoga retreat in Kerala recently and had also visited Rishikesh. What does it take to draw you away from yoga and commit to a project these days?

I entered this industry when I was 17. For years, I worked at a hectic pace and got burnt out. After I lost my father in 2019 and went through difficult situations in my personal life, I became more spiritual. Cinema is a place for learning — not only the craft but it also shapes you as a person. When you constantly play different roles, you can go through an identity crisis. That happened to me. Spirituality helped me become more grounded; I’ve learnt to prioritise my mental health. I now take up work that truly intrigues me. My Hindi web series with Mahesh Bhatt’s production house [a Bollywood love story set in the 1970s] should be out soon. I have two Malayalam films and my home production Cadaver, a bilingual in Tamil and Telugu, is also underway.

In that sense, you have had a productive time during the pandemic.

Yes, thankfully. After years, I also went back to my roots in Kerala and reconnected with my family and friends. A few years ago, I wanted to travel to the Himalayas in my search for what I wanted. But it’s at home that I felt I had found what I wanted. Home is where the heart is.

(Kudi Yedamaithe premieres on Aha on July 16)

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Printable version | Sep 26, 2021 4:16:32 AM |

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