On her own terms

VERSATILE Andrea Jeremiah  

D espite making a mark in films, actor-singer-lyricist Andrea Jeremiah is not in a hurry to sign projects. She'd rather go slow and perfect her performance with every assignment — be it singing or acting, she says in a free-wheeling chat with MetroPlus. Excerpts:

There's a vast difference between acting on stage and on screen. How do you strike a balance between the two?

Yes, there is a difference between the stage and the big screen. Film acting requires more technique — how to cheat with camera angles, how to catch the light — which I'm yet to master! In films, it's more about control and learning how and when to channel your energy, or it can be very exhausting. But, the emotional involvement of any actor with his/her role is the same, be it cinema or the stage. Some of the best film actors in the world come from a solid theatre background.

You are focussed on music, theatre and writing. What prompted you to enter films?

As a college student, I turned down every film offer I got. I really had no intention of becoming a film actor. Even theatre was just a hobby. My focus was on music. But life doesn't always turn out the way one wants it to. I had to make choices owing to circumstances, only time will tell whether they will pay off.

What kind of writing are you interested in — writing for the screen or penning lyrics?

I've been writing poetry ever since I was a kid. As I grew older, I began writing songs. I've written lyrics in English for films, but it's very different from my personal writing. As for screen-play, it's a completely different discipline and involves a lot more work. I'd be thrilled if I managed to script an entire screenplay that was any good! I hope to, some day.

There must be a common thread that connects you to your varied interests.

I'm glad you put it that way. Most people ask, ‘If you had to choose between acting and singing, what would it be?' I think it's ridiculous that I would have to choose between acting, singing or writing. They all correspond to different parts of me and I can't be deprived of any one thing for too long.

The lyrics of which song attracted you the most…

‘Maalai Neram' from “Aayirathil Oruvan”. It was my first real ballad, and I love singing ballads. Some of the lyrics had to be translated for me to fully understand them, but when I did, I was like ‘oooh'.

Your career plans...?

My priority is to get better at what I do, even if it means sitting at home for a whole year without signing a single film or singing a single film song.

You are choosy about the roles you play. Yet, both your films, “Pachaikili Muthucharam” and “Ayirathil Oruvan”, did not fare well at the box office. What do you think went wrong?

Making a great film does not necessarily guarantee its success at the box-office, but if every film-maker and producer is worried about that,0 no film would ever be made. Of course, what's on paper may not necessarily translate well onto the screen, but that's a risk every actor must take.

Which film song that you've sung has been the most challenging?

I would say ‘Maalai Neram' again. I really struggled with the pronunciation, but it was worth it because it's a great song and it's moved so many people.

Do you think your screen presence lends mileage to your other activities?

Yes, it does. It's one of the first things I realised after my first film. However, it is as much a bane as it is a boon.

Has your life changed after the release of two films with big league directors?

The only thing that's changed is the way people see me. I have not changed at all.

I still take the occasional auto, wear crumpled pyjamas at home and walk my dogs on the street.