Wherever the petite and pretty actor Gayathrie goes, people recall her role as Dhana in the cult comedy Naduvala Koncham Pakatha Kaanom (NKPK), which shot her to fame with the legendary “ppaaahh” dialogue. “Even now, women come to me and say, ‘You are so pretty. You don’t look like a pei (spirit) at all. Why did Vijay say ppaaahh like that to you?’,” she grins. Now, in the romantic thriller Puriyaathu Pudhir (PP), Gayathrie is teaming up with her NKPK co-star Vijay Sethupathy, who plays an aspiring music director, while she portrays Meera, a violin teacher.
To make her act look real, debut director Ranjit Jeyakodi made her learn to play the violin. She took classes for three months with a borrowed instrument, despite complaints of her neighbours, who couldn’t bear the sounds of her poor musical skills. But her perseverance paid off. “When we shot the scenes, holding and handling the violin came naturally to me and I could concentrate on my dialouges and expressions,” she says.
She is all praise for Vijay. “After NKPK, Vijay and I starred in Rummy, but I was paired with Inigo then. Vijay is a big star now, but he hasn’t changed at all. For NKPK, we shot in a village, and both of us would play tag, and hide and seek with local kids between shots. Now he’s very busy. During PP, he was always on the phone as he was producing Orange Mithai. But he always made time for improvising and giving suggestions on how we could improve our scenes. His acting looks so effortless during a shot, but one look at the monitor and the impact of his performance hits you. I had to be on my toes to keep pace with him.”
After films such as 18 Vayusu, NKPK, Ponmaalai Pozhudhu, Mathaapu and Rummy, PP is Gayathrie’s sixth film. The gaps between her films have grown longer. She explains: “In the beginning I was unaware of how the industry works and went by my instinct about a role. Some of my films took a long time to release, including PP, which was shot some time ago. Now I am wiser. I’ve understood that working with banners that can release movies on time is as important as choosing the right script and roles,” she says.
She’s been using her time wisely. She participated in Vijay TV’s reality show Acham Thavir to get over her introversion. “I love adventure sports and have done trekking and para-sailing during my school summer breaks. For me, Acham Thavir was about team work. I got over my introversion and made wonderful friends, thanks to the show,” she says. Gayathrie is also part of Tamil Nadu’s Celebrity Badminton League team and will be playing with Arya, Shanthanu, Bharat and Amitash. “We’ve all become good friends and share a great camaraderie,” she chirps.
With PP readying for release, Gayathrie is excited. “The trailer has intrigued everyone. What you see in the trailer doesn’t give an inkling to the actual story, which is multi-layered. It’s been one of the most challenging films I’ve done and only when you see it you’ll understand why,” she explains.