I believe that sincerity and dedication does eventually pay off: Anu Mol in ‘Balcony Baatein’
Anu Mol, the gorgeous actress, has already left a definite mark in Malayalam films with her remarkable performances in films like ‘Akam’ and ‘Ivan Megharoopan’ and with her upcoming new film ‘Bhakthi Prasthanam’ in which she has been paired with Kunchacko Boban, Anu is all set to slalom into the big league. Here is Anu in a candid conversation with Balcony Beats, where she talks about her choice of films, her journey as an actress and on her penchant to stay focused on whatever she does in life!
BB: I had the opportunity to watch ‘Ivan Megharoopan’ in the theatres, and what a performance, Anu! Huge congratulations on your portrayal of Thankamony in the film. How does it feel to be critically applauded for the role?
Anu Mol: Thank you so much! It does feel nice to see that your work is appreciated.
BB: We do know that you have been making waves as an actress. We would love to know what you are basically though.
Anu Mol: I had completed my engineering and was working as a VJ in a channel. I used to do a live show on television for about an year. And then movies happened.
BB: What was your motivation to become an actress? Which was your first film?
Anu Mol: My first film was in Tamil, a film called ‘Ramar’. I have been getting quite a lot of offers even while I was working as an anchor. But I had this feeling that I would never be able to do it. I come from a village that is quite far from the highly urbanized world of films, somewhere near Pattambi, where I had never even had the opportunity to watch a film inside a theatre. Movies seemed a distant world to me that was almost phantasmal, and hence I had my reservations. But my friends egged me on to give it a try; they said I could always walk away if I didn’t want to be in films. You could hence say that I came into films by accident, but I have decided to stay on by choice. Today, the more I do films, the more I am fascinated by this industry.
Anu Mol: ‘Ramar’ was a starting point for so many of us. The male lead of the film was Vinay who was being launched into films as well. The director of the film was Aathiraja, who had worked as an associate director with such film makers as Mugavari Durai. Here was a bunch of freshers coming together, and I was lucky to be a part of it, since it had a really powerful female character in it which I got to play.
BB: I remember it has been almost an year since I saw you for the first time on screen. The venue was IFFK, and I was walking out after the screening of ‘Akam’, when a friend who was with me wondered aloud, as to how they could have come up with such a perfect Yakshi. I agreed with her totally since your looks and performance in the film excellently matched up to our expectations of how Malayattoor’s Yakshi would be like. How did you come with such a confident performance as Ragini?
Anu Mol: (laughs) To tell you the truth, I was not confident at all. On the contrary, I felt real scared when I had to play such a complex character. I had read the novel long back, while I was in school, and though films were far from my thoughts those days, Ragini had managed to have a tremendous impact on my psyche way back then. I was asked to appear for an audition by Geethu Mohandas whom I knew, after the makers saw a still of mine from ‘Ivan Megharoopan’.
I came to know that the film is based on Malayattoor’s ‘Yakshi’ only at the time of audition. When I asked them about a few favorite scenes of mine in the novel, they were also quite surprised. It’s perhaps then that they felt that their choice was apt. I got the shivers when I was told that I would do the role of Yakshi, which a great artiste like Sharadamma had essayed to perfection years back. We had a workshop session that lasted for about ten days. Since the film was shot in sync sound, we needed to be trained.
BB: You worked with Fahad Fazil in ‘Akam’, and it was way before the current Fahad mania had evolved. How was it working with Fahad?
Anu Mol: Fahad struck me as an extremely cool person to work with. As a unit, we were all quite close. It was like a small, happy family, in which each member was quite passionate about the film that we were making. There was less of fun and more of serious work, but each one of us was tremendously enjoying every bit of it.
Anu Mol: Yes, the film was officially selected to the Shanghai Fest. It’s indeed a great honor for the film.
BB: You were quite lucky to be a part of ‘Ivan Megharoopan’ in which we saw you after ‘Akam’. Here was an excellent team of actors and technicians coming together for a film, but one in which there was more than four heroines. Were you not wary of being in a film as this, in which there is always the risk of being sidelined by co-actors?
Anu Mol: I always knew right from the start that this was a film that had several women characters in it. I had read ‘Kaviyude Kaalpaadukal’, and I also hail from the land where the poet had left his footprints on the sand. It was at the college in Pattambi that P Kunhiraman Nair taught, and I knew that Thankamony, the character that I played in the film lived at a place that was quite near. This was an added attraction for me to play the role.
Coming back to your question, I am not too much concerned about the number of heroines in the film; rather my concerns lie in whether I will be able to do justice to the role that I play, and if I will be comfortable playing it. Of course, I do not want to be lost in a crowd, and would like my role to have some potential to perform. If you have seen the film, you might have noticed that Thankamony has a story to tell; one that has been distinctly noticed.
BB: I ado agree. And the way the role ends, does leave a lump in the audience’s throats.
Anu Mol: Exactly!
BB: You were also fortunate to match your lips to the lyrics of the most popular song ‘Andelonde’ that had become a rage…
Anu Mol: It’s a fact that I love my song in the film, and I do agree that it has been sung amazingly well by Remya Nambeesan. But I love all the other songs in the film as well. ‘Anuragini…’ for instance has beautiful lyrics by ONV, a lilting tune by Sharrath and has been sung by the incomparable Dasettan. Kavalam Sir has written such beautiful lyrics for the song ‘O Marimaayan Kaviyalle…’ that has been picturised on Prakash Bare and Padmapriya, and the voices of Krishna Chandran and Mridula Warrier sound unbelievably appropriate.
BB: The reason I told you so, was because very rarely do you witness a crowd clapping their hands in glee when a song appears in a so called offbeat film like ‘Ivan Megharoopan’. I saw that the crowd was quite ecstatic when the song started at Trivandrum Sree.
Anu Mol: Yes…’Andelonde’, no doubt, has turned out to be extremely popular, especially by the manner in which Remya has sung has the song. Added to it is the fact that Remya has quite a distinct voice that is exceptionally appealing.
Anu Mol: ‘Chayilyam’ is a film that has been directed by Manoj Kana, the post-production of which is going on at the moment. K G Jayan is the cinematographer. It is a film that has been set against the backdrop of the dance form of ‘Theyyam’, and I play the role of a widow in it. It dwells on the highly challenging situations that this young girl goes through, and I should say it’s quite a different role.
BB: As much as we would often say that it would be unfair to classify cinema into art and commercial categories, it remains that all the films that we have seen you in, till now, fall into the serious cinema category. Does this suggest that you are a Smita Patil in the making?
Anu Mol: (laughs) Please don’t compare me to a legend like Smita Patil. Seriously though, I refuse to be tied down to a particular genre of cinema. I don’t believe in the commercial – art house classification either. I am more interested in the role that I get to play in a film, irrespective of which category you would like to place the film in. As I said earlier, I look forward to doing roles that offer me something as an actress, and I should say that I was lucky enough to do such roles till now. However I agree that the categorization remains and hopefully, what you mentioned would change when my next film is released. I have been paired with Kunchacko Boban in my next film ‘Bhakthi Prasthanam’ that has been directed by Babu Janardhanan.
BB: ‘Bhakthi Prasthanam – Gods for Sale’ has already managed to generate much curiosity, thanks to its intriguing title and cast. What sort of a role do you play in the film?
Anu Mol: I play an interesting role in the film; that of Chackochan’s wife, who sticks with her man through thick and thin. Chackochan would be seen in the role of a man who undergoes a lot of transformation in the film, and as he passes from one phase of his life to the next, the character played by me stays with him, offering support, correcting him at times and lending him strength. It’s a very positive character that I play in the film.
BB: How was your experience of working with Kunchacko Boban, one of the leading actors in the industry today?
Anu Mol: This was the first time I was working with him, and he is an extremely nice person. He would offer me creative suggestions on occasions when I would be confused, but would take care never to encroach on my personal freedom as an artiste. Above everything else, he is very encouraging as well.
Everyone on the sets of ‘Bhakthi Prasthanam’, starting off from the director, have been extremely nice to me. I am a slightly sensitive person, who tends to be upset at small issues that disturb my mind. What I felt while shooting for ‘Bhakthi Prasthanam’ was that even if I didn’t perform during a shot to the optimum level, they would encourage me and persuade to me to try even better. The atmosphere was truly positive, and this was a team that I was extremely comfortable with.
BB: You have worked with Shalini Usha Nair in ‘Akam’, while the rest of your films have been directed by men. Do you think as an actress you feel more comfortable working with a woman film maker?
Anu Mol: No, I don’t think it makes a difference at all. I am equally comfortable working with men and women directors.
BB: Malayalam cinema, they say, has been going through a process of transformation like never before. You have more and more films in which women get to play better roles than ever before. Don’t you think this is the right time to be in Malayalam films?
Anu Mol: Cinema, I feel, has always been going through this process of change. Cinema has always had freshers walking in, be it technicians or actors. Whether they stay on or whether they get lost in the crowd, would depend on the kind of work that they get to do in films. Dedication and luck do matter a lot, is what I believe.
BB: So what are your upcoming projects going to be, besides ‘Bhakthi Prasthanam’?
Anu Mol: I would be doing the lead role in a film that has been titled ‘Parayaan Baaki Vechathu’ that would be directed by Kareem, who had earlier directed films like ‘Agni Nakshatram’ and ‘Ezharakoottam’. National Award winning cinematographer Madhu Ambat will wield the camera, and I have been paired with Maqbool Salman in the film.
BB: One last question! What is your personal mantra that drives you forward in life?
Anu Mol: I take life as it comes. I have never planned things in my life, and from whatever has happened in my life, I always feel that things fall into their place on their own. But when I do something, I see to it that I give it my best shot. And I believe that sincerity and dedication does eventually pay off.
BB: Thank you so much Anu, for this wonderful tete-a-tete! It was such a pleasure talking to you, and all the very best for ‘Bkathi Prasthanam’ and all your other future projects!
Anu Mol: Thank you!
Tags: Anu Mol, Gods for Sale: Bhakthiprasthanam, Ivan Megharoopan