After Pa Vijay’s Strawberry in 2015, Devayani hasn’t been seen in Tamil films for almost three years. However, come Deepavali (November 6), the actor will have her second release in three weeks, with Gandhi Manivasagam’s Kalavani Mappillai.
“My wish is to always act in films. But I wasn’t comfortable or happy with the characters I was offered for a while. Ezhumin was a nice subject, so I agreed to do it. Kalavani Mappillai too is a lovely subject,” says Devayani.
Excerpts from a conversation with the actor:
Will the audience get to see you more regularly on the big screen now?
I never wanted to take a break from cinema. I was just waiting for the right script. It is just coincidence that these films are releasing together. I shot for both films simultaneously and it is nice to have two festive releases.
Based on the trailer of Kalavani Mappillai, your role seems to have negative shades. What kind of character are you playing in the film?
It’s not exactly a negative role. Kalavani Mappillai is a humour-based family entertainer. Though the makers were sceptical if I’d agree to do the role, I liked the outline of the character and accepted the role immediately.
What do you think about the growing trend of female-centric films in Tamil cinema?
It’s a healthy trend. Audiences seem to be more accepting of such films and a lot of heroines are taking on such characters. It’s a welcome move and an important turning point in Indian cinema.
You’ve played leads in Malayalam cinema, even while shifting to character roles in Tamil. Was this a forced choice?
A female artiste gets only a limited span of time as a heroine in our industry. After that, she has to automatically switch to other characters if she wants to act for a long time. But even when I was a heroine, I chose character-oriented roles. This is the reason for my sustenance. I don’t see why we need to restrict ourselves to certain type of characters.
Was it a calculated risk to move to the small screen at the peak of your career?
2003, when I starred in Kolangal, was the golden period for soaps in Tamil television. So, it wasn’t a risk at all. Now it is different. There are many TV channels and you can just keep on changing it. Back then, people used to wait for Kolangal to start. We had a lovely time doing the serial.
Will you go back to the small screen?
Small screen is a very sensitive medium. People watch it everyday. So if I’m going to do a serial, what my serial is saying is very important. Only a proper message should reach the audience. I’m not sure if I’d receive a script like Kolangal now. But yes, I’d love to do a serial if everything falls in place.
Not just Abhi (her character in Kolangal), but even your film roles like Kamali from Kadhal Kottai and Nandini from Suryavamsam, have a good recall value.
Even now people talk about Suryavamsam’s collector scene, idly upma, etc.. They telecast these films at least twice a month. Even the role of Nirmala from Panchathanthiram became such a sensation. I still don’t understand the logic behind its success. It’s all thanks to Kamal sir and KS Ravikumar sir.
Your husband, Rajakumaran, and brother, Nakul, are also actors. Do you share tips with them?
No, I don’t give them tips. Nakul is a brilliant actor. My husband is basically a director and also a very good actor. All of us are professionals, and we do discuss about our projects and give our opinions.
Having played Chellammal in Bharathi, are you open to acting in biopics again?
I haven’t given much thought to it, but I do like biopics. Recently, I loved the biopic on Savitri amma (Nadigaiyar Thilagam). Keerthy Suresh gave a very beautiful performance and actually lived the role of Savitri.
With Kalavani Mappillai, we’ll see you in a multi-starrer after a long time...
I met Anandraj sir after a long time for this film. It was lovely working with him. I like Dinesh’s films too; he chooses very casual scripts. It was nice working with Aditi Menon also. There is a whole army of comedians in the film as well, including Rajendran, Manobala, etc.