One day, Isha Talwar was sitting at her home in Mumbai when she got a call. A Telugu producer wanted to make aremake of the Mollywood film, Two Countries (2015). Isha was offered the same role that she had done in the film. As Isha agreed, she suddenly went blank. She could not remember what her role and themovie was all about.
“So I thought that it would be best to call [director] Shafi Sir and find out,” says Isha. When she stated her request, a shocked Shafi began laughing loudly. Then he said, “This is the first time anybody is asking something like this to me.” But, he complied and told Isha about her role and the storyline.
However, because of a clash of dates, Isha could not act in the film.
But Isha had been deeply immersed in her latest film, Ranam/Detroit Crossing which stars Prithviraj and will be releasing in April. “During the shoot, we were literally taken by storm,” says Isha. “Hurricane Irma hit Florida, while we were some distance away in Augusta. There was a lot of rains and winds and it had become chilly. But the shoot was stopped because many technicians, like the make-up artist and assistant directors, had families who were living in the eye of the hurricane. So they had to rush back to place their families in safe shelters and organise food for them.”
Shooting in the USA is quite different from that in Kerala. For example, the junior artists belonged to some of the richest families. “They just loved being part of a Malayalam film,” says Isha. “Many of them came to work in their Mercedes Benzes or flashy SUV's (Sports-Utility Vehicles).”
During the two-month shoot, Isha interacted with a lot of Malayali families. And during one shooting schedule, she stayed for a week with Dr Daniel George, his wife Grace and their family at Augusta, because she wanted to eat home-cooked food. “My producer was thrilled because he would be saving money,” says Isha jokingly. “As for Grace Aunty, she cooked the most amazing food.”
On the sets of Bangalore Days, Isha also had a one-of-a-kind experience. After a shoot one day, Isha spent time with co-actors Parvathy and Nasriya in a hotel room. “It was the first time I was interacting with my fellow women actors in Mollywood,” she says. “It felt good to know that we could all leave our vanities aside, and just hang out with each other and have regular 'girly' conversations. Of course, the bonus for me was to get a peek into the Malayalam film industry from their point of view.”
Both Parvathy and Isha felt that Nasriya was a 'natural' in her acting. “Nasriya has more fun, because she is so spontaneous and does not seem to care,” says Isha. “On the other hand, Parvathy told me she was a pure Method actor and does research before she plays a role. For me, I was so new, just hearing all this gave me a different perspective. I realised that I had to find my own way of doing things.”
Isha had a completely different experience on the sets of her debut film, Thattathin Marayathu (2012). The shoot was taking place in Thalaserry and it was about 40 degrees Celsius and burning hot. When there was a break in shooting, Isha took shelter in an air-conditioned vanity van. “It was like a match-box and there would always be six or seven people – Aju [Varghese], Nivin [Pauly], Srinda [Arhaan], Tushara [Thomas], and Bhagath [Manuel],” says Isha. “There was a lot to chat about, but mostly the conversation was, ‘Vacate the seat, I want to do the touch-up’, or ‘I want to use the bathroom, can you get out?’ We were jammed into each other’s spaces, but also had a good time.”
Another unique experience that Isha had was when she acted with superstar Mammootty in the film, Balyakalasakhi (2014). During breaks in shooting, the duo would talk a lot. “The conversation ranged from food to his exercise regime and Mammootty Sir’s journey as an actor,” says Isha. “It was amazing how he could connect so easily with people of different age groups.”
And then one day Mammootty said, “At some point in their careers, all actors become narcissistic.” Isha immediately said, “Sir, I beg to differ.” But today, she is not so sure. “I believe what Mammootty Sir said was correct since actors tend to live in a bubble,” she says.