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Tamannaah on 'November Story', fighting COVID-19, and staying relevant in the industry

Tamannaah has played the girl next door many times in films.

And yet, she chose to play a girl next door role in Tamil web series November Story, releasing on May 20. That is probably because her character, Anuradha, is not doing just everyday things but is actually an ethical hacker with one aim: to solve a whodunit in which her father is the main suspect.

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“In films, my next-door-girl roles were still aspirational. In the web-series space, it feels more real,” says Tamannaah, over a telephonic chat from Mumbai, about her crime thriller series that is directed by Ram Subramaniam and stars Pasupathy, GM Kumar, Aruldass and Vivek Prasanna. Excerpts from a chat with the actor, who has three Telugu projects (Seetimaarr, the remake of Andhadhun and F3) lined up apart from others:

How did November Story come about?

I wanted to venture into the web space two years ago, when not many mainstream actors were doing it. I feel that it was a great progression because you explore a new medium and get exposure. November Story gave me the opportunity to collaborate with actors like Pasupathy and GM Kumar, who have very well-written parts. We finished most of the shooting before the pandemic but had to put it on pause during the year’s lockdown. Thankfully, we completed it after that and it’s ready now.

Do you think that web platforms give the chance for you to play powerful female protagonists, something that might not happen in commercial cinema?

There have been great female-centric subjects even before these platforms came about. The rise in such content now is a reflection of society; people want to watch empowered women on the screen. Women are being celebrated now; it is due to our evolution as human beings. There has been a patriarchal pattern in all industries, including films, but now, it is about trying to break through such patterns and tell stories through a woman’s perspective.

Tamannaah on 'November Story', fighting COVID-19, and staying relevant in the industry

Your social media bio describes you as an ‘intuitive actor’. How do you manage to retain that quality, after these years of experience?

That’s the quest. You are trying to keep the child in you alive all the time. The life of an actor is rather unique... it gives you the opportunity of staying young in your head. That’s the only way you can stay relevant. Time should ideally not bind us from growth. Whatever your biological age is, the childlike quality should be intact.

You tested positive for COVID-19 last year and underwent medication. What was the biggest learning from that phase?

I was in a shoot and all of a sudden, I was in a hospital with all the possible medication pumped into me. COVID-19 took me by storm. But I was lucky to have a producer and my family take care of me. I know many people who have tested positive; some of them take it lightly, while some panic. You need to be calm in this tumultuous situation, but you also need to be alert and vigilant. The biggest issue is that these are contradictory emotions. Timely action is of utmost importance, especially during this second wave.

A decade ago, you were among the most popular heroines in Kollywood, paired with the big stars here. Do you miss that phase now?

That was a fun phase of my career. I was playing characters that were age-appropriate and light-hearted. Cinema was different at that time, but subsequently, content has changed, and so have the methods of consumption. I would be worried if I had not evolved since then. I do not miss it, only because I have already done it and I do not wish to repeat myself.

If you happen to watch Ayan, Sura or Veeram when you change channels on TV, what goes through your mind?

I try to remember what I was thinking at that time, but I realise that I have no memory of it because it was too fast a phase. I was working on five-six projects at a time. I lived like a robot; all I did was wake up, shoot, work out and sleep.

You did manage to pick up a lot of Tamil back then. Going by recent social media posts, you seem to put in a lot of effort into speaking the language even now.

I just want to make it my own. Back then, I would falter, say something funny but I would still make an attempt to talk in the language. Even at press meets, I would speak in my broken Tamil or Telugu. Talking in front of the media was a great way to exercise my ability to talk the language.

Tamannaah on 'November Story', fighting COVID-19, and staying relevant in the industry

KV Anand, the director of one of your biggest Tamil films (Ayan), passed away recently. What are your most treasured memories abut that film?

That news was heartbreaking. He [KV Anand] was one of the first filmmakers who noticed me and gave me an opportunity.

I was 18 when I did Ayan. I was really scared back then; it had big names like Suriya and Anand. The anxiety levels were very high, but they ensured that I was comfortable and gave my best during the shots. I remember Anand being so clear about his shoot sequences; he channelised what I had in the best possible manner.

Produced by Ananda Vikatan Productions, November Story will be launched on May 20 on Disney+Hotstar

 


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Printable version | Aug 4, 2021 7:21:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/tamannaah-on-november-story-fighting-covid-19-and-staying-relevant-in-the-industry/article34534056.ece

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