Priyamani has to be the most charming heroine we’ve interviewed so far. Brushing her hair back often, she looked stunning, flashing her brilliant smile every time she paused to answer. What impressed Behindwoods most of all is how articulate she was, deftly switching between Tamil and English with ease. In a freewheeling chat with our contributing editor, Pradeep Sebastian, the star spoke of her future projects, favorite actors, the Paruthiveeran experience, and the importance of stars throwing their weight behind a cause.

Kamal and Sridevi are the greatest screen pair in cinema

You’re Vidya Balan’s cousin?

First cousin! We don’t meet as often as our parents do. I’m very proud that she’s family, and I wish her a great career.

Will you also be playing Ravana’s sister in the Hindi version of Ashokavanam/Ravan?

(Smiles charmingly, doesn’t answer)

Mani Ratnam is always hush, hush but can you spill something for us

(Smile turns into a broad grin)

We’ll take that as a yes?!

(Continues smiling charmingly) I'm excited to work with Mani sir. I have seen all his films, and it's my dream come true.

Your character in Ninithale Innikum

Check out the Malayalam original, Classmates!
Seriously.
Classmates is a college reunion film. The batch comes back to their college, and in the middle of celebrating the reunion, a mystery occurs. I play a feisty girl who keeps running into Prithviraj’s path in college. We have a crush on each other but don’t express it. And then a misunderstanding keeps us apart. Only if the mystery is solved, can we come together.

We know you adore Mohanlal and Mamooty – what about Prithviraj?

He’s such a natural, and really charming. It’s wonderful working with him.

The Paruthiveeran experience

Nearly three months in a village. Tough. All of us worked so hard.

Did you think it would be such a hit?

I knew it would be much acclaimed but didn’t think it would be such a runaway hit!

"I knew Paruthiveeran would be much acclaimed but didn’t think it would be such a runaway hit!"

There’s that extraordinary scene where after Muthalagu’s father beats her, she eats with a ravishing appetite..what did you as an actress bring to the scene?

I wish I could say I did bring something but it was Ameer sir’s direction all the way. Not just my body language but even Karthis’. And not just in that one scene, but the whole film – whatever he asked me to do, I did. And did it well, I think. That’s what I can take credit for.

What are your memories of shooting that scene?

I had to cry, and I went away into another room three times to bring myself to tears-
So, no glycerine-
No way.

What do you do to bring yourself to cry in the middle of a set?

I go away to another room, and look deep inside myself, and use my own memories to find some sadness inside me. And then I’m moved to tears.

"I wish the hero would say no to slapping me!"

You go up against Ramya Krishnan in Arumugam –what’s that like?

Interesting! I’m looking forward to working with her.

What’s it like to live in Chennai after Bangalore?

Oh, I haven’t moved. Still based in Bangalore.

Where did you go to college there?

Bishop Cotton Women’s Christian College

What’s your favorite thing to do in Bangalore?

Hang out with friends. Catch up with family. Listen to music.

What kind?

I love melodies. Just give me a good, strong melody in any language and I’m a sucker for it.

We read you love animals –are you interested in animal welfare and rights? Namitha is.

I would like to be. Really. I see animal rights and welfare as such an important and urgent cause. I’d like to see how I can be involved.

Heroes slap heroines regularly in movies – what do you think of it?

Perhaps the script requires it.

But why do directors put that into a script at all?

Well…good question. I suppose they needn’t.

If your script involved the hero slapping you, would you say no?

At this point, I really don’t know how much choice I have. I wish the hero would say no for me!

Exactly. Only if influential stars like you put your foot down will this needless, gratuitous violence stop.

It’s something worth thinking about.

Are you a typical Gemini?

Yep.

Versatile, articulate, vivacious, intellectual, impulsive

Yep, yep, yep… (laughs)

Favorite actors.

I have just two – and they are my ideals. Since I was a kid, I’ve kept these two as a benchmark for acting. Kamal and Sridevi – and together! Not just on their own. For me they are the most talented screen pair in cinema. No one can beat them. Look, I’m not someone interested in stars because they are stars. The question for me is: how talented are they? I’d never care for Tom Cruise or Brat Pitt – I get put off by them. My heroes would be Robert De Niro, Jack Nicholson, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Morgan Freeman…stars who are stellar actors.

Any serious relationships?

Nothing yet. I’m holding off. Focusing on work. But yes, I’d like to find love. Like everyone else! I’d like to wish Behindwoods viewers the very best in everything.

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