Anna Ben has arrived. Early this year, she stood out even in the presence of a host of seasoned performers in the terrific Kumbalangi Nights , her debut film. Recently, after seeing her sterling performance in the title role in her second movie, Helen , veteran filmmaker Sathyan Anthikad was all praise for her effortless acting and elegant expressions.
It seems Anna has set the stage for the beginning of a glorious career, provided she continues with her fine form in an extremely competitive industry. The young actor shares her experiences and dreams in a chat with the FridayReview . Excerpts from the interview:
With just two movies, you have made a dream start...
I am still in that phase of excitement and guess it has to sink in slowly.
How has been the response to Helen?
Helen was regarded as an experiment. We were expecting acceptance but, fortunately, after the release, we got good reviews. It was so positive that I felt whether we were missing out on the negative reviews!
As you moved from Kumbalangi NightstoHelen,what difference did you feel as an actor?
Baby, my character from Kumbalangi Nights , is a pampered and bubbly girl, which is lighter. But Helen is mature and focused. Helen is a survival drama and I had to work hard physically and emotionally.
Of the two roles, which was tougher to execute?
Helen was definitely more challenging. We had shot it in extreme cold for almost 20 days and I had difficulties coping with that. I usually don’t even use an air conditioner. The setting was done with the original equipment inside a freezer. Everybody else in the team had gloves, jackets and boots to protect themselves from cold but obviously I couldn’t have that while shooting. Those moments where I fall down were proper stunts and that was new for me. My character was mentally in a bad shape too. After a while, I was emotionally and physically drained. But the team helped me and I was being taken care like a kid.
How do you get into the shoes of your characters?
I didn’t have any difficulty, hesitation or tension while doing Kumbalangi Nights , probably because she is more or less like me. Maybe, the team felt during the audition stage itself that I have a lot of my character, Baby, in me and so it would come out well. The way she talks and the way she interacts with people with one-liners and quick wit is familiar for me. We are like that at home. I could understand the culture quite well. Helen was different because of the situation that she is in. I have never got stuck anywhere like she did. Both of us together discovered how to go about it.
When did you know that you wanted to be an actor?
I always liked to act. But I never thought I could do it and I have not performed much to be told by anyone that I can act. So I applied for auditions and casting calls. It was after the shooting of Kumbalangi Nights that I realised how much I liked and enjoyed the process.
How does the fact that you are the daughter of a noted scenarist (Benny P Nayarambalam) influence your passion for cinema?
Although I came into movies through auditions, the faces I meet here are familiar and they all are like family. I am not an outsider, which is really good. I guess when you are in an atmosphere where you are comfortable with yourself or the people around you, it becomes easier for you to work better.
Are you inspired by the performances of any particular actor?
More than any particular actor, I watch all genres of movies and I love cinema a lot. There are so many actors whom I admire. But I have not tried to look for references to learn acting. It is very difficult to look at somebody and mimic what they do. I don’t think that is the right way to go about it as well. From the two movies I have done, I feel that once when you empathise with the characters, you start living their life.
Your forthcoming projects?
I have completed Muhammed Musthafa’s Kappela , in which I am doing a character different from the two that I have done already. Also, discussions are on about a project with writer- director Ranjan Pramod.
With back-to-back success, do you feel more serious and responsible now?
Of course. I wanted to be an actor. I am taking this opportunity very seriously.