A dream debut in ‘Kumbalangi Nights’

Anna Ben on making her début in ‘Kumbalangi Nights’

Many of us who have seen the Kumbalangi Nights trailer are wondering about the curly-haired girl with the million dollar smile. Anna Ben happily smiles as she settles into the attention coming her way. Is she being recognised already? “The response to the trailer has been overwhelming, I have got all these calls and texts, all appreciative of the trailer. Am I being recognised? Not so much,” says the actor with complete honesty. She will make her début in the film directed by Madhu C Narayanan, due for release next week.

Giving her company in the film, scripted by Syam Pushkaran, is a powerhouse cast led by Soubin Shahir, including Fahadh Faasil and Shane Nigam among others. A fashion designer, trained at St. Teresa’s College, she says, “Even when I was in college, and I’d participate in college, and other, programmes, I would hear of auditions being held. I was interested too, but could not muster the confidence to be part of one. I didn’t think I could act.”

Although she never got down to attending an audition before, she did respond to the casting call for Kumbalangi Nights. The team behind the film was as much a draw as wanting to become an actor. Wanting to become an actor, and responding to the casting call, she says, stems from her love of cinema.

Neither films nor film sets are new to her, she is scenarist Benny P Nayarambalam’s daughter. “I have always been around films and film sets with my father, but never have I pictured myself being part of films or acting for that matter.” Even when she responded to the Kumbalangi... casting call or when she auditioned, neither did her father know what film she was auditioning for nor did the crew know who her father was.

A dream debut in ‘Kumbalangi Nights’

“It was after the fourth round of auditions, when I was asked for my details after I landed the role did I mention my father,” Anna says. All he knew was she was attending some film audition, “Appa wasn’t expecting it either, so when I got the role he was very happy.” Her mother, she says, is the most excited.

The audition was an eye-opener , she realised she could perform without inhibition. “If you ask me whether I like acting, now that I have acted, I’ll say I like acting.” She has been cast opposite Shane in the film. There were no workshops per se but she had an audition, a one-on-one session with actor/director/producer Dileesh Pothan, where he told her how to go about acting. Acting with the team, including the technicians, gave her confidence. “I had the inputs from the team. Before a particular scene, Syam (Pushkaran) ettan would sit with me and tell me how to go about it. There was no pressure at all, it was all very comfortable. It was a happy group of people making a film, the vibe on the set was positive.”

She is Baby in the film, a stark contrast from what Anna looks like. Baby is a naadan girl, while Anna is modern, and of the city. How did she transform? “The look was decided by Syamettan, Madhu ettan and Dileesh ettan. Baby is from Kumbalangi, she maybe naadan but she knows what is happening around. I had inputs on how to become her, plus the makeup by Ronex Xavier and costumes by Sameera Saneesh transformed me completely, it didn’t need too much of an effort from my end.”

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An earlier version of this article mentioned the name of Anna Ben's character in Kumbalangi Nights incorrectly. The error is regretted.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 5:09:12 AM |

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