Whenever a popular actor comes back after a long break, comparisons to their pre and post-hiatus work are inevitable. This concern was definitely at the back of Samvrutha Sunil’s mind when she decided to return to the silver screen through G Prajith’s Sathyam Paranjha Vishwasikkuvo.
“There’s the worry of meeting fans’ expectations and then there’s the worry of adapting to an upgraded filmmaking style that you’re not familiar with,” says Samvrutha. “Today, characters have become more life-like and the performances, realistic.”
But those who have seen the film—written by Thondimuthalum Driksakshiyum-fame Sajeev Pazhoor—will agree that Samvrutha has grown so much as an actor. She is relieved to hear that everyone has responded positively to her portrayal of Geetha, a housewife who has to deal with the mess created by her alcoholic husband (Biju Menon).
The actor, currently residing in the US with her husband and four-year-old son, is yet to see the film with them because it will most likely reach theatres there only next month.
When you got married, was there a plan to return once the time was right? Or, was it just an instantaneous decision?
I hadn’t thought about coming back to films at the time. It didn’t even cross my mind in the first few years after my marriage. But then later, I started getting some good offers which I had to pass on due to various factors. It wasn’t until I appeared on the reality show Nayika Nayakan and stood in front of the camera again that I seriously started considering getting back to it. The warm response to that show was quite encouraging too. And it wasn’t until I did Sathyam Paranja Vishwasikkuvo that I began to realise that I missed acting.
How did you adapt to the changes that happened in the industry since your last film? Did you feel like you were coming to act for the first time?
When I did my first film, I was very relaxed and comfortable. I didn’t think it was a big deal back then. I was just 17, so it was with that innocence I did Rasikan. But that was not how I felt when I decided to do this one. I was totally tensed and nervous. And as you said, there are these changes, which I had been keeping close tabs on all this while. Since I was going to be working with a lot of new people, I was a bit concerned about their filmmaking style. Fortunately, I was given such a warm welcome on my first day on set that I began to feel completely at ease. They gave me a clear picture of my character and what was about to transpire in a particular scene.
You were very convincing in the film. Would it have been a challenge to play Geetha the way you did before your marriage?
I don’t think I would have been able to play this character with the same level of maturity and conviction before. My experiences in the last seven years have definitely changed me and shaped my thought processes, which helped me to a great deal. My approach to cinema has also changed now, and that’s probably the main reason why it looked convincing. Today’s filmmakers approach things much differently. I wasn’t able to have a clearer picture of my characters back then as I did on this one. Being a wife and mother myself, Geetha’s activities were very familiar to me— before marriage, multi-tasking was alien to me. So depicting that as well as the familial bonds happened naturally.
Now that you have the extra responsibility of a family, has your response to scripts changed as well—in terms of how long it takes you to read them and get a strong grasp on the characters?
Definitely. Unlike the olden days, I can’t immediately say “yes” simply because I liked a story. As a lot of factors have to be taken into account, I have to be much more selective— maybe I can focus on one film a year. Because I live so far away, the thought of shooting for a month or more makes me think twice. For this film, for example, Sajeevettan had narrated the script and described my character over the phone and it was only later that I went through the detailed script. The scene breakdown, moments... all that happened much later on location. Naturally, all of this will take plenty of time, attention, and focus. It requires you to put aside your other responsibilities for a short period. My son had accompanied me during the shoot, and only after making him comfortable was I able to focus on everything else.
Was the shooting schedule planned in a manner so as to make it easier for you to keep in touch with your family?
Yes. My portions actually took only 20-25 days. Plus, it was not a continuous shoot: there were short breaks in between, which made things easier. The team was willing to co-operate with me as much as possible. The fact that my son was there was a big relief. He was not comfortable on the first day of the shoot due to the dust in the area and he had to stay with my parents. But when he got bored on some days, he showed up on the sets. So there was time to look after his well-being as well.
Do you still get time to see all the films that come out?
Not as often as I’d like.
Before our son was born, my hubby and I used to make it a point to watch every good
film that came out, irrespective of language. But now that we have our son, the number
has come down considerably. Now we mostly see the films that he enjoys, like animated films.
Would you do more films?
I would love to, but I’m not sure if that would be practically possible. Given where I live, it would pose a considerable financial challenge to the producers. But if there is a production team willing to handle that, then yes, it could be possible. If a co-operative team as this one approaches me with a strong script, then maybe I would. So far, I haven’t committed to any projects.