Article Hindi Malayalam

The moment I trust a creator, I am putty in their hands: Parvathy discusses her craft

Popular Southern actress Parvathy Thiruvothu discussed her craft at an engaging session, sharing her process and ways of absorbing the characters that she plays on screen.

Sukhpreet Kahlon

As part of the knowledge series called ‘Dial M for Films’, organized by the MAMI Mumbai Film Festival, a session on 'the art of building characters' by actress Parvathy Thiruvothu was streamed online recently.

The series has been curated to enable conversations on what takes place behind the camera and delves into the minds of artistes as they unravel their process and speak about their craft.

The Facebook Live sessions also invite the participation of audience members by selecting 20 participants who get to ask questions during the session.

Parvathy has carved a niche for herself in Malayalam cinema with critically acclaimed films like City Of God (2011), Bangalore Days (2014), Ennu Ninte Moideen (2015), Charlie (2015), Koode (2018), Uyare (2019) and Virus (2019).

The year 2017 was a crucial one in her career as she won accolades for the Malayalam film Take Off (2017) and became the first Indian actress to win the prestigious Best Actor (Female) award at the International Film Festival of India (IFFI). That year, she made her Hindi debut with the film Qarib Qarib Singlle opposite Irrfan Khan.

At the Facebook Live session, Parvathy spoke about the craft of acting and the ways in which she prepares for her roles. Speaking about her performance as Sameera in Take Off, she said, “Sameera is caught in a web of problems. This is not a character whom you see smiling... She is just very focused on resolving her issues and she will do whatever it takes. That became the starting point."

She said it was the process of working with the film’s team and prodding the writers for details on the character that really helped her get a handle on the emotions and arc of Sameera. “For me, it’s always the questions that help me and more often than not, I’ve got the answers that have helped me,” she remarked.

In Qarib Qarib Singlle, Parvathy played a very different character, Jaya. Speaking about her, the actress said, “Jaya’s journey was, interestingly, highly relatable. In fact, it was the most relatable character I have [played]. It was a full hour, two-hour narration and I remember laughing. The idea that these moments are so light and yet there is so much depth in their reality, I pounced on it and had to play Jaya! Working with [writer-director] Tanuja [Chandra], the constant reminder was to always understand what her [Jaya’s] back story really is.”

In an interesting insight, Parvathy also spoke about the ways in which she draws from her characters and they continue to inform her life in an integral way. “I feel that by being in their space, understanding them, justifying what their actions are, it leaves an indelible mark on you, to that route that the character has taken," she explained. "She becomes a friend of yours who is so informed in these things, who comes and whispers, saying that you cannot give up. I could not afford to give up, why do you think you can give up? These are personal takeaways for me and these happen only if I give that breathing space after [the completion of a film], so I take that time out.”

Offering an example, she discussed her role in Uyare, saying, “For me, Pallavi [the character she played in Uyare] came at a time when I was picking up the pieces and figuring out how to put myself together to be strong enough, to continue on what they call ‘the war path’, but it’s the path that I can’t avoid because that’s my truth." The reference, probably, was to her run-in with Mammootty fans after she had criticized the superstar's misogynistic film Kasaba (2016).

Responding to a question from a co-artiste from Virus, she spoke of the method that works for her to grasp a role. “I am always in the need to break the mould," Parvathy said. "I have come to terms with the fact that I will always seek information, I will always ask for these things, because I am used to it. If I had started off with a different director and a different team which worked in a whole other loose manner, I probably would have structured myself differently. Because I have learnt on the job, this is something that I have been priming and kneading and perfecting like a really good dough and it’s been working out well for me so far.”

The actress ended by discussing her process for selecting films and said her craft does not hinder her in adapting to what a story or a director wants out of her. “The moment I trust a creator, I am moldable clay in their hands to do what they have to do,” Parvathy remarked.