Meera Vasudevan became a household name in Kerala after making her Malayalam debut through Blessy's Thanmathra. Her role as the distraught and devoted wife of Mohanlal's Alzheimer's patient won her much praise, including an Asianet award for Best New Female Face of the Year. The Mumbai-born actor, whose mother tongue is Tamil, has since then go on to appear in more than ten Malayalam films. She is currently residing in Kochi.
Excerpts from a candid chat:
You seem to be very comfortable doing Malayalam films. How did you overcome the language issues?
I didn't find it that difficult because the directors I worked with made things easy for me. Despite bearing a huge burden, they were very patient with me and helped me get through those challenges.
You've acted in serials too. How different is the working process?
There is a huge difference. There is so much of talking in TV and there is hardly any talking in films. In films, there is more focus on emotions and expressions and I have the option of not saying a particular line. Whereas in TV, you have to talk because they need to get a lot out of one scene. But the working pattern is more or less similar.
So your current focus is on films?
Yes, that too in Malayalam. I wish to do more challenging character roles. This is one of the main reasons why I moved to Kochi with my entire family. Things have been much more organised now that my family is here.
Are you having a great time here?
I am, yes. What I like most about the place is that everyone is very friendly and helpful. They go out of their way to accommodate me. And as I do most of my travelling on Uber, I get to see different places. Sometimes I take the train to see more of the city and the people. I'm having a lot of fun. Also, it's easy to blend in with the crowd here: they're very easy to talk to. In that regard, I don't see much of a difference between Kochi and Mumbai. I used to think that it would be difficult to adjust but I'm having fun.
Are you in Dr. Biju's new film Painting Life?
I'm doing a guest role. It was Prakash Bare who asked me if I would be interested in doing a guest role in this film, and I said yes,because it's not every day that you get to work with someone like him. I would work with him even if it's an hour. But I got two hours (laughs).
Has it got something to do with cinema?
Yes, it's a very interesting film about the life of a filmmaker and his relationships. Geetanjali Thapa (who won the National Award for Liar's Dice) is also in it. It's a very beautiful project. Despite being a guest role, I was treated like I was part of the whole team.
Do you think the situation has improved for female artists in the Indian film industry?
It looks the same to me as it was 17 years ago -- male domination. See, I'm very professional and I'm very clear about my work. People who approach me know that I've been in the industry for 17 years and also won some awards. They know I'm all for quality and their attitude is also professional. I haven't had any difficulties here. For instance, I had to take an early morning flight recently to be in time for my son's summer camp and arrangements were made to take me to the airport. The main reason why I moved here is because they treat you like family.
But you don't feel other film industries are that way?
For example, take Mumbai. You go to work and you leave, that's it. It's very agency-oriented over there. But Kerala and Tamil Nadu are different -- everything is more personal. It's in Kerala that I got the maximum attention and appreciation for my work. That's why my heart is here, despite being a Tamilian by birth. I also brought my son along.
What are your future projects?
I have two Malayalam projects coming up -- Mohammed Shah's Panigraham, which is part of an anthology of seven short films, and the other one is Thaakol, produced by Shaji Kailas. I play the mother of Rushan (Shaji Sir's 13-year-old son). It's an Anglo-Indian look, different from what I have done before. Apart from that, I'm doing a Tamil film called Adanga Maru with Jeyam Ravi where I play his sister-in-law.