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We can disagree with each other but we can't be so intolerant, says Parvathy Thiruvothu

Film actor Parvathy Thiruvothu in Thiruvananthapuram

Film actor Parvathy Thiruvothu in Thiruvananthapuram   | Photo Credit: Sreejith R Kumar

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The Malayalam actor gets vocal on the current climate of unrest and her forthcoming projects

Parvathy Thiruvothu plans to turn director in 2020-2021 and is busy gathering material for two scripts that she is working on. In the city to participate in the concluding segment of the annual Soorya Dance and Music Festival, the actor meets MetroPlus at Cafe Jade, Hycinth, for a free-wheeling conversation about her work as a founder-member and spokesperson of the Women in Cinema Collective (WCC) and her thoughts regarding the current season of discontent.

What is happening to Rachiyamma, a short film based on progressive writer Uroob’s story that is part of an anthology directed by four filmmakers?

Rachiyamma is brilliant in my head because Venu sir is so brilliant. When I met him, I had certain concerns about the story. Back when it was published, it was one of the most progressive short stories to come out. But we are living in 2020 now and much has changed in terms of feminism, equality… So from the point of view of a woman, I suggested a more balanced adaptation in terms of portraying, in film or in a story, a woman making choices and drawing boundaries. When I told him this, he was very intrigued. Venu sir wanted to know what my points of concern were. He was open to finding ways to incorporate the elements I found pertinent. I worked with Asif, who, like me, is full of questions but that is because he is so in love with his work. We had really great conversations and debates. This process is what makes a movie so worthwhile for me. It’s a team effort to find so many meanings.

The surprise was doing a cameo for Halal Love Story, directed by Zakariya Mohammed and written by Muhsin Parari. I had wanted to be part of a different genre. Halal... is a big departure from the usual genres of films I’ve done. I can’t give away much about the movie but I’m very excited to explore unchartered territory.

How about Varthamanam?

I finished dubbing and editing is going on. It is about intolerance. It came to me three years ago, when the beginning of intolerance was sparking and I thought it was the right time for a film on that, turns out now is even better a time for such a film to come. Everybody in the film, like the director Siddharth Siva, actor Roshan Mathew and I have our own political leanings but one thing we are all against is intolerance.

What is the story about?

Varthamanam is about the political awakening of a research student. It is also interesting for me because a lot of students in Kerala send me bizarre messages like ‘Oh, you are only interested in what is happening in the Central government in New Delhi, you are not responding to whatever is happening in Kerala’. It seems that Kerala is so insulated from everything else.

I feel that difference in the way you are treated, the way political discourses are hushed. I know the way the fear in people is palpable whereas in Kerala I can just talk like this in a public space. It’s easier to have a dialogue here.

At the same time, last year I realised the masks are off in Kerala too. They are not acknowledging enough their biases and their phobias as evidently as it is outside the State. It is masked with a lot of niceties and politeness in political dialogues. Many don’t even acknowledge that Islamophobia exists to the extent it does in Kerala. Here, it exists and in excess. It is a thick, viscous stream that is flowing underground. For me, it always starts with self-reflection. I wonder what action or statement of mine was slightly phobic of a particular community. I try to catch that.

Would you play a character who is not like you?

I would love to take that up, it just matters what the movie stands up for. I am always ready to do characters that Parvathy does not agree with at all. I thought Anu (her character in Virus) was not like me. But then I realied that though outwardly I am not like Anu, I am a recovering ‘people pleaser’. Do the right thing for yourself rather in give in to the deep-rooted fear that people might like you better if you keep pleasing them.

That is the best part of the job. You get to explore so many of your own facets…

When will you turn director?

End of this year. I have some travelling and couple of acting projects to complete. By November-December, I will start the prep. The directing, the actual on-set process will be in 2021. I am way too excited about moving to that side of the camera.

Will you be scripting as well?

I will be co-scripting it. The subjects I have started preparing, out of which one has a strong political background while the other one has a psychological space between two people (a thriller), needs immense research. As an actor, I crave for information so that I have those at the tip of my fingers wherever I wish to use them. I would probably need ten times more (information) as a director. I am enjoying the process, the research part of it has its merits. And this is when the movie is actually made, in my head. On set, you will never have the time to do anything. You will have to make do with what it there.

When will Sivaranjiniyum Sila Pengalum be released?

It is already doing the rounds of film festivals. But I don’t know when it will be released in cinemas.

Any Hindi films in the offing?

I did get offers but not the kind of stuff I wanted to do. I am very ambitious about the kind of subjects I wish to do. I can’t settle for anything less. Tanuja’s (Tanuja Chandra who directed Qarib Qarib Singlle) offer came to me like a miracle. I wanted to do a romcom for a long time and I got one with none other than Irfan Khan. It was a dream team. But for me, Malayalam is right now a fertile ground to keep sowing and ploughing. It would be great if I get an opportunity in Bollywood or any industry.

But I find my heart is way more invested in Malayalam now. And if I am to take myself away from here, where I can plant an idea and have enough and more people to come and support it without being afraid of the market and names, then if I have to go to Bollywood, the offer has to be that tempting.

No one is doing anyone a favour. I offer a service and if my service comes handy for a project in Bollywood, I would be happy to work.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2020 10:28:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/parvathy-thiruvothu-on-the-current-unrest-in-cinema-and-society-her-plans-to-turn-director-and-future-projects/article30576375.ece

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