Though she made her acting debut nine years ago, it was only last year that Priya Anand made her first appearance in Malayalam cinema, in a supernatural thriller called Ezra, with Prithviraj. She is back in a much bigger Malayalam film this year, featuring not one but two superstars, Nivin Pauly and Mohanlal. The film, Kayamkulam Kochunni, is based on the real-life legend known as the 'Robin Hood of Kerala'. Nivin plays the eponymous role of the likeable, fierce, and cunning robber who stole from the rich and gave to the poor.
Though she couldn't divulge much, Priya was willing to share a few details about her character, "I play the main female lead Janaki. She is an influential character in Kayamkulam Kochunni's life. It's an interesting part. And she is one of the main characters who drives the narrative."
Priya is all praise for her co-stars Nivin Pauly and Mohanlal (who plays Kochunni's mentor). "Nivin is very sweet and mischievous on set. He is quite the prankster. He made the entire experience very comfortable for me. And Mohanlal Sir came up to me one fine day and introduced himself saying, 'Hi. I'm Lal', and I couldn't believe it. He is such a big actor and an institution in himself, and yet, he is so humble. There was no ego, no starry airs...nothing. And he knew about my work, which really surprised me."
Priya also lauded the talented supporting actors, junior artistes and technicians who worked on the film. "I was awed by the scale of Kayamkulam Kochunni. It was thoroughly researched -- the assistant directors gathered all the necessary material for a year-and-a-half. Everything was amazing from a visual standpoint -- from the set design to the costumes. And it has one of India's best cinematographers, Binod Pradhan (Devdas, Rang De Basanti), framing everything. And, of course, there is director Rosshan Andrrews who is very specific about what he wants."
The actor compares her on-set experience to being transported back in time. "Everything looked so authentic and you really feel like you've been sent through a time machine to that time and place. I would feel this every time I put on the costume and stepped on to the set. It was very exciting for me to do a period film. It's been one of my dreams to work in a grand epic for the longest time."
Priya finds herself very fortunate to work in Malayalam cinema. "Some of the finest filmmakers are in the Malayalam industry. There are so many interesting stories being told here. And they write substantial parts for women; it's not just come-and-go or song and dance. I hope to do more Malayalam films in the future."
On asked whether she is able to converse in Malayalam, Priya says, "Not yet. As of now, I memorise all my lines. All the learning I didn't do in school, I do it now (laughs). I'm really hoping to speak the language one day. So far, I don't have any issues learning my lines."