Famous for her roles in films such as Aegan and Ko, Pia Bajpiee is perhaps best known to Tamil audiences for the song, Idhu Varai, in Goa. But the actor, last seen in Nerungi Vaa Muthamidathe, has since not done any films here. She’s been busy with projects in other languages including Hindi, during this time. Now, after four years, she’s finally back in Tamil with the upcoming Abhiyum Anuvum and she’s happy about returning to the industry that introduced her.
“I wanted to concentrate more on Hindi,” says Pia, explaining the four-year gap. “Also, I wasn’t getting great roles here. I didn’t want to do films just for the sake of doing them. I wanted them to be worth doing.” She says she has no tolerance for mediocre scripts anymore. “I don’t want to associate myself with mediocrity. There’s no point in doing films, if people don’t even know you starred in it.”
Pia also cites another important reason for her lengthy absence. “I don’t want to do films with those who can’t be bothered about getting them released properly.” She adds, “For an actor not from South India, I put so much effort into my projects, and if, for any reason, the film doesn’t get a good release, all my effort goes in vain. It’s just heartbreaking when that happens.”
Pia says she was convinced to be part of Abhiyum Anuvum, on account of the banner backing it. “I got this film from SaReGaMa, and the script was so good. There really was no reason to turn it down,” she adds. The teaser of the film hints at a love story, but Pia says there’s more than meets the eye. “There’s something different in this film that will raise a lot of questions about society. It’s not just another love story.” She doesn’t think it will stir up a controversy though. “Partly because it’s based on a true story. We aren’t making it up,” she says.
Interestingly, Pia sports a shaved head in the film. She used prosthetics to achieve this. “The shaved look was something we shot for just three days, and so the director didn’t want me to actually shave my hair. In fact, it complicated things, because the use of prosthetics made it very hectic. For a 7am shot, I had to get up at 3am. More than once, it took so long that I fell asleep, while the makeup person was fitting the prosthetics on me.”
That was the least of her problems though. “Once the look was ready, I couldn’t laugh or turn my neck as it got really itchy on account of the sweat buildup. And I wasn’t allowed to touch it, for fear of ruining the makeup. It was painful. Removing it, of course, was even tougher. At the end of the shoot, I told the director that shaving my head would’ve been actually easier,” laughs Pia.
The film also stars Malayalam actor Tovino Thomas of Mayanadhi fame in the lead — marking his Tamil debut. “His Tamil is obviously better than mine (laughs). He even dubbed for himself. He’s a great actor and a warm person. Luckily, our chemistry looks good and after the teaser’s release, people have told me that we complement each other well.”
Now that she has got sizeable experience under her belt, Pia notes that the differences between the film industries have distinctly reduced. “In fact, I don’t even believe there’s any gap. At the end of the day, it comes down to how many people know you. I lived in Mumbai before I got my Bollywood films, but once you’re a star, people begin ofering you work.”
Despite doing a lead role in 2010, Pia was happy to play a supporting role in 2011’s Ko. “Though Ko was a great film, I’ve realised that what matters at the end of the day is whether you’re the heroine or not. Otherwise, you don’t get any spotlight.” After Ko, she was only approached for supporting roles. “The reputation I got through Ko didn’t help me. A lot of people won’t agree with me when I say a small role might not lead to a bigger one. My ambition is to be a star, and so, henceforth, I will only do lead roles.”