Interview | Movies

‘No one better than Chinmayi to dub for me’: Kalyani Priyadarshan on 'Hero'

Kalyani Priyadarshan

Kalyani Priyadarshan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement


The actor discusses her Tamil debut with Sivakarthikeyan's 'Hero', her parents, choice of films and accusations of nepotism

A question about nepotism is unavoidable for children of film stars in India. The privilege they are born into is more often than not an enabler in their careers.

Their status also invites unwanted spotlight. For instance, the high profile split between filmmaker Priyadarshan and his former partner Lissy Lakshmi played out in the media more than it did in a court room.

But to their credit, Lissy and Priyadarshan were able to divert the attention away from their children, which is something their daughter, Kalyani Priyadarshan, who is set to make her Tamil cinema debut in the film Hero starring Sivakarthikeyan, appreciates.

“It always takes a toll,” says Kalyani, of her parents’ split, sitting at Le Magic Lantern preview theatre in Nungambakkam. “It is not like [divorce] will never affect anybody. But I applaud my parents for they never really put us in hell. Whatever, emotionally, they were going through... they made sure they never took that out at home. Obviously, [the split] was a shock, but today we are all the happiest we could be... we are at peace, and I think my relationship with my parents are much stronger now. That is the most important thing,” she says.

Kalyani Priyadarshan

Kalyani Priyadarshan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Living a dream

Though she was born into a film family — Kalyani says she spent her childhood vacations on film sets — the way the industry operates, and its persistence in propelling unreal beauty standards as the norm, held her back for the longest from trying her hand out in acting.

“But I started to notice a change happening in the last three or four years, especially after Nazriya [Nazim] entered films. That is when I got the confidence that maybe people will accept me too,” she adds.

With Hero, a dream of hers stands to come true. Though she made her debut in a Telugu film — Hello in 2017 — Kalyani says that she had always wanted to work in films in Tamil and Malayalam because she “grew up watching them”. And the way she has chosen to go about living her dream, for when she looks back upon it few years down the line, is to be part of good films.

“That is one advice my dad gave me... to not look at the screen time but to look at being a part of good films. So, when directors come up to me and ask if they should just narrate my role, I would say no and insist on knowing the whole story. It would give me a better idea of what I’m going to be a part of because when I look back at my career later on in life, nobody is going to remember my screen time. It would only be the films itself [that one recollects],” she says.

“I’d rather have two minutes of screen time and have purpose than have 20 minutes of screen time in a separate track that makes no sense to the story,” she adds.

Kalyani Priyadarshan

Kalyani Priyadarshan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Adding thrust

But her role in Hero is not two minutes long, she assures.

“I play a motivational speaker, and she is someone who gives advice for people that are in need of it. She has a very specific purpose in the film. You may think that there is a separate love track happening but it is not the case. There is no unnecessary hero-heroine song to cut to in the second half,” she says, adding that the film would “deliver a message” in an entertaining package.

“The idea is to make people understand the message without giving them the feeling that somebody is giving a speech to them,” she remarks.

Although a fluent speaker of Tamil, Kalyani opted not to dub after tests were unfavourable. The crew have instead used singer Chinmayi to voice her in the film.

“There was no one better than Chinmayi ma’am to do it. This is what she does, and this is her strength. If I had done it, it would not have been the same,” she says. Elaborating on the reasons, she adds, “The veeram (courage) that the character needed was not coming through in my voice. There was a slight hint of fear when I was dubbing because it was my first time. So, we (director PS Mithran and her) came to the conclusion to use another voice for the sake of the character.”

While she awaits Hero’s release this Friday, another film of hers, in Malayalam, where she co-stars with Dulquer Salmaan is gearing up for release as well. Helmed by Anoop Sathyan, son of filmmaker Sathyan Anthikad, the film, whose title will soon be revealed, also has ace cinematographer Santhosh Sivan’s son in the cast. There is also the Vineeth Sreenivasan film, Hridayam, in which she is cast alongside Pranav Mohanlal, son of Malayalam cinema veteran actor Mohanlal. She is also a part of Marakkar: Arabikadalinte Simham, a film helmed by her father Priyadarshan and which has Mohanlal in the lead. Her brother Siddharth Priyadarshan is also the VFX supervisor in the film.

Kalyani Priyadarshan

Kalyani Priyadarshan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Burning question

By virtue of the names involved, these films also, inadvertently, serve as posters for nepotism. “We get criticised for it,” she says, of the accusations. “But the best way to handle is laugh about it. One day, we are going to prove ourselves, and so it is fine,” she adds.

Her argument is centred on the success and acclaim enjoyed by another scion in Malayalam cinema, Fahadh Faasil.

“He has managed to break the image,” says Kalyani. “If you see the team working in the [Dulquer] film, you would know that they are not there for the stardom. They are there for the passion they hold for cinema. That passion comes from the fact that we were always surrounded by cinema growing up,” she adds.

For now, only the thought of losing camera consciousness occupies her mind when she is filming a movie. “I’m very conscious [of the camera]. I feel that I would perform really well if there was no camera in front of me. But when there is one, and the director says ‘Action!’, I freeze,” she says.

Kalyani also has a solution to this early career crisis. “My dad tells me that doing as many movies as I can is how I can become less conscious of the camera. He says even someone like Mohanlal was camera conscious in his first film, and that everybody got better and better as they did more films,” she concludes.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 12:55:38 PM |

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