Press conversations hardly get as lively as the one concerning '90ml'. About a dozen journalists bombarded Oviyaa and the film’s director, Anita Udeep (who prefers being addressed as Azhagiya Asura — the famous song from Whistle she had sung), with questions about Tamil culture, feminism, and mostly centered on their outrage that women were shown to be drinking and smoking.
This conversation occurred just before the film’s release, and so was based only on the trailer and the sneak peek from the film that featured Oviyaa and her girlfriends discussing their bodies, intimate relations, while casually smoking and drinking. One reporter asked if Oviyaa appears nude in the film, another expressed surprise at his own assumption that the director was from an ‘orthodox family’. Here’s the circus as it happened.
Oviyaa began talking about how she landed the role: “After Bigg Boss Tamil, I received a lot of roles. I opted for 90ml because of how female-centric the subject is.” When one eager reporter wondered if she acts nude in the film, she retorted, “I’m not a porn star. The film has a lot of kissing scenes though, and plenty of sequences that show us smoking and drinking. People should understand that these are scenes that show who Rita (the character she plays) is, and not who I am in real life.”
Another reporter wondered if this would affect the fan-following she has amassed after Bigg Boss Tamil. “That’s why I’m saying that Rita should be seen for being a character in this film. We obviously didn’t drink in the scenes and used apple juice instead,” she said. “Though I’ve quit smoking, I had to do it for this film, as the script demanded it. I drink too, by the way, but know my limits. If fans do want to follow someone, it should be for who the actor is in their real life, not for who they pretend to be in films.”
Oviyaa proceeded to shed more light on the film that has become a topic of much debate. “It’s a film about a beautician named Rita, who meets four women with their issues and inhibitions. The film will offer a peek into the world of friendship between women and break typical expectations on how women should keep their feelings to themselves.” Director Anita stepped in to elaborate: “The film is inspired by women I’ve seen in my life and we are not here to deliver a message. 90ml will be a fun entertainer that also points out that women empowerment begins when we really empower our selves first.”
The topic naturally veered to the film’s A-certificate. Oviyaa said, “The content in the film deserves the certification and in a way, we sought it.” On a big group of people being up in arms against the ‘vulgarity’ in the film’s teaser, she said, “Those are all comments from male chauvinists and I would like to advise them not to watch the film. There will be scenes that they won’t really like. So let them take this as a warning (laughs).”
On all the double entendres, the actor retorted, “How’s it any different from the headlines you see on newspaper stories and YouTube videos? Once you go through them, you will realise that the actual content has nothing to do with the titles. Similarly, I’m sure the opinions of people would change after they see the film. We have done what’s necessary for the film and my characterisation here is quite different from what you’ll see me do in my upcoming films like Kalavani 2 and Muni 4.”
Yet another reporter seemed not to take kindly to women wearing ‘skimpy’ clothes in the film, and this got Anita fuming. “Tell me how you define skimpy clothes!” she thundered. Oviyaa interjected, “We know the difference between glamour and vulgarity. We, women, have the freedom to wear what we want and no one should actually have any qualms over that. Even kissing, for example, is a beautiful act, as long as there’s consent, of course, even if it’s one’s spouse. That’s what intrigued me about the #MeToo movement. I think those who faced such issues should have reacted instantly and taken it up legally.”
The usual questions concerning romantic relationships ensued and in the case of Oviyaa, it centered on her fellow Bigg Boss Tamil contestant, Arav. “I’m single now and I’m even doing a cameo in Arav’s upcoming film, Raja Bheema,” Oviyaa clarified. After a rather uncomfortable session, Oviyaa concluded, “We’re ready to face backlash if there’s any. We know we have a successful project in our hand and I’m ready to be a part of its sequel too, if we decide to go with one.”