‘I am a director’s actor’

Anumol talks about her preparations to enact T.K. Padmini for a biopic on the late artist.

Updated - December 02, 2016 12:01 pm IST

Published - October 27, 2016 11:51 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Anumol as artist T. K. Padmini

Anumol as artist T. K. Padmini

Anumol defies most perceptions, or stereotypes, of being an actor. She arrives first for the interview, make-up- and entourage-free. Refreshingly frank and honest, she speaks of having a life beyond cinema, being cognisant about the impermanence of a career in films and about seeing films as being more than entertainment, as an art form that should “disturb, haunt and make one think.”

She ‘becomes’ the late artist T.K Padmini, in Sushmesh Chandroth’s biopic on the artist. Images of Padmini and Anumol as Padmini on social media point to a striking resemblance, “I am told there is a likeness between me and her,” she agrees.

“We both hail from Malabar, and in every place there is a certain kind of sameness in the look. That just manifests itself in this case. I didn’t make an effort to deliberately ‘be’ a particular way,” she says. Pattambi is home.

Roaming in Padmini’s Kadancheri in Ponnani, taking in everything - ‘feeling the place’ as Padmini might have - probably brought out that aspect.

Padmini was barely 29 when she died because of complications related to childbirth. Her peers remember her as a genius, to be counted in the same league as Amrita Shergil. Way ahead of her times, Padmini explored dual preoccupations - being woman and an artist - in a distinctive style that remains, largely, untouched by her schooling in art.

Anumol’s preparation, she says, was just reading the script thoroughly, familiarising herself with everything about the artist. Being able to be many different women or people, in one lifetime, is one of the perks of the job that keeps her hooked to being an actor. So Anumol became Padmini.

“I don’t know about method acting, but I was in the ‘zone’ - being Padmini. I am a director’s actor, I didn’t ‘prepare’. When Sushmesh ettan called me for the role, I Googled her and was struck by the brilliance of the woman. Once I got into the role, then Padmini’s home became my home, the fields, the land...everything.”

The closest that came by way of preparation was attending a one-day painting class at Orthic Creative Centre under artist Kaladharan. She had to familiarise herself with the technique of an artist, for authenticity’s sake, even managing to replicate a work by Padmini. She holds filming in Padmini’s home close to her heart.

She so liked Padmini that it shows in the film, she says. “Muthumani told me that it showed that I gelled with her. It’s true, Padmini was there on my fingers and my entire body language too.”

This role is another in a career that has been marked by several offbeat films, in fact too many for a young actor. A young actor, seemingly, untouched by the pressure to be constantly in the limelight, being ‘present and seen’. “It is not deliberate, I have done all kinds of films too. I do feel the pressure, sometimes. But it is not intentional. I have done commercial films too. It just boils down to being comfortable with the team I am working with, may be not a good thing for me at this stage of my career, but that is how I can work.”

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