Unfortunately, questions about marriage are par for the course when you are an actor — female especially — meeting a group of members from the press.
Oviyaa counters it in her own inimitable way: “I will never be getting married. I don’t need a partner. I feel complete by myself.” Someone asks her if it was because she feels ‘married’ to cinema.
Flashing a disarming smile, she replies, “I don’t even love cinema, let alone marry it. I am unable to handle myself; that’s probably why I don’t have any friends.”
It was this same clarity and honesty that endeared Oviyaa to Tamil audiences during her Bigg Boss days.
“I think that show gave me enlightenment.” After the sudden spike in popularity, films featuring her that were canned were revived and marketed on her name. I ask how she feels about that. “It is okay; I know they are using my name. If they are earning money out of it, I am okay with it. I am happy I am in a position to help someone with just my name.” She also went on a signing spree after Bigg Boss and regrets having signed too many films. “But again, that is okay too. I am at a place now where I will be happy about having two films getting released every year. I don’t have the intention to act for a long time anyway or try and cement top rank in heroine lists. If I am in the mood, I will do a movie. If not (shrugs)...”
Some may mistake this attitude for arrogance, a problem faced by her character in the controversial 90ml. While Bigg Boss may have brought her bouquets, it may not be entirely inaccurate to say the film brought her brickbats. “Both praise and criticism are good experiences. People will keep changing but we can’t keep changing for everyone. We must be ourselves. If someone likes my character and approaches me with a role, let them. If not, it’s okay.”
That is probably why she is comfortable working with Sarkunam, the director who introduced her in Kalavani in 2010. When he came to her last year with plans of a sequel in the form of Kalavani 2, she said yes without asking anything more. “Kalavani is close to my heart as it was my first film. When Sarkunam sir pitched the sequel, of course, I wasn’t going to ask anything else. Oh wait, I did ask one question—if they would give my salary on time (laughs).”
It has been nine years and Sarkunam hasn’t changed one bit, she says. “He remains the same down-to-earth person he was. I love working with him because he give artistes space and also gets the best out of us.” She, however, has changed quite a bit during this same period. “As an actor, I am at a good space now. Earlier, I couldn’t even look at myself on screen. Now, directors give me space to explore my acting ability, and I can’t help but be happy. As a person, I have grown quite a lot. The only constant has been my sense of happiness. I was happy then; I am happy now.”
This happiness is evident as she talks about her lineup of films. “I want each of my releases to be totally different from each other, like 90ml and Kalavani 2, for instance.” She shares that she was approached with many A-rated films after 90ml. “I didn’t commit to them because I didn’t want to be doing the same thing over and over again. I also don’t write off any film; it all depends on the script.”
She gets more female-centric roles these days and believes it to be a good thing. “You need such changes in the industry and I want to be part of such a positive cycle.” The actor also doesn’t rule out cameos like in Silukkuvarupatti Singam. “I don’t mind doing glamourous roles either. Acting is what I am paid to do anyway,” she says, in a matter-of-fact tone.
Oviyaa is currently busy with a Malayalam film and one more untitled Tamil film. She is hungry for more scripts. “I have the confidence to do any character. Idhu mattumdhaan pannanum nu aasai laam illa. Pichakaari or panakaari, I can do it all. Also, I am not after films. If films are after me, I will entertain them.” Why, she is even game for a biopic on her. “I have lots of stories to tell,” she signs off, flashing that artless smile.