Parvathy is not a new name for the average cinephile. An actor who has slowly carved a niche for herself, Parvathy is known for her powerhouse performances. With films in three of four south cinema industries, the talented leading lady is now making her debut in Bollywood with Qarib Qarib Singlle. Directed by Tanuja Chandra, Parvathy has Irrfan Khan for company on screen. In a nonplussed chat with indianexpress.com, the actor talks about carving a path for herself.
Let’s talk about Qarib Qarib Singlle. How did you become a part of the project?
Getting Qarib Qarib Singlle was destiny for me as I wasn’t strategising a career plan in any industry. I have never done that. When I got Tanuja’s (Chandra) message directly to ask me if I would be a part of the film, it felt great. She came down to Kochi with writer Ghazal to meet me as I was stuck at a shoot. For me, that was a great deal of respect to be given to an actor. My hope was that I would love the script as well and I loved it immediately after listening to it. The dates also worked out. It was quite fateful.
You’re making your debut here with one of the leading actors in Bollywood, Irrfan Khan.
There is no better co-actor you can find. He is someone who has the star value but is essentially an actor who wants to invest in creating that film. I can say I found a really great partner in the movie-making process.
Did you find any difference between the south industries and Bollywood?
The actual process of movie making changes from director to director and depends on how they want to tell the story. That is not related to an industry or a culture; it’s just sensibility and vision. There are a couple of things that are different in execution. But again, that depends on the budget and the audience demography. My job as an actor is the same everywhere: reading a script, understanding the character and giving a truthful performance. That’s why I don’t believe in strategising for any particular industry because the job is always the same.
Don’t you have a tattoo on your wrist that means flow? And you got that after Charlie?
It started with Bangalore Days. I played this character called Sarah. It might sound philosophical, but the high I get from performing characters is that I feel that these are women I know for a period of time. They are real and kind of speak to me and help me out in life situations without even my knowing it. When I give out a truthful performance, they help me out in real life to be honest. I have learned how to smile truthfully and to let go of situations you can’t control from Sarah. Tessa taught me how to admire without any limitations. All my tattoos on my wrist are reminders for me to stay at it, at life basically.
Every character has a unique look. Whether it’s Tessa’s nose ring or Sarah’s glasses. How involved are you in creating the look for your character?
To get to the details of abhinay (acting), one needs the element of alankar which is makeup, costumes etc. It doesn’t happen just with the script written or an actor performing. It also means the art department; they create the world for this. As an actor I strongly rely on makeup, costume and set department to create that world for me, to make myself believe that I am that person. Only then can I sell the idea that I am that character to the audience.
It is a group effort. I am really thankful to all my directors who have made me an integral part in the pre-production. I believe it is extremely important for an actor to be a part of it. On shoot, you have a million things to tackle on a day to day basis but pre-production is when you get all resources, all the tricks that you need in your bag.
Even with Qarib Qarib Single, Tanuja made all that happen. I got to sit with Ravi Shrivatsava (Production manager) to know what Jaya would keep in her room. For costumes, it was Maria. My makeup artist flew all the way to Kochi on her own just to try out looks, how Jaya would be. To discuss character for hours with a makeup artist, that’s the level of dedication and collaboration I look forward to in every film. That effort has gone into every movie of mine and that’s the high I get.
In a profession where there’s a certain expectation to look a certain way, how do you perceive glamour?
I can only do what I wish to do and not interfere in anybody else’s life. If it is anybody else’s expectation from me, I can understand if it is expecting me to do a good job as an actor in portraying a character. Anything beyond goes above my head. It might come across as arrogant, but that is the only way I can stay sane. I am someone who is very comfortable with what she wears or wearing make up when she feels like. I don’t feel any less beautiful because I am not the typical sense of the word glamorous.
As someone who has wanted to stay clear of tags, how do you see the ‘Lady superstar’ given to you?
Tags and categorisations are put by people who can’t define someone. When somebody is doing a lot of things out of the box, the part of society who like to follow a certain set of rules are likely to feel a bit threatened. The comforts of familiarity are not there. That’s just how human behaviour is. Trust me, I am an actor. I study human behaviour, its my job. They put tags on you so that it is easier for them. So that’s probably the reason. But my way of looking it is very objective. I don’t have any problem in them calling me a lady superstar. The only thing I request everyone is to call me by my real name which is Parvathy Thiruvoth Kottuvata. Anything else doesn’t matter to me as at the end of the day I am an actor who does her job with genuine effort.