In many ways, Sethum Aayiram Pon is a surprise. The quiet, little indie film has landed on the Netflix archives, just as most of us were beginning to miss new Tamil content. For Nivedithaa Sathish, who plays one of the leads, the film is a silver lining in dark times. “I was skeptical about promoting the film, fearing it may be socially irresponsible,” says the young actor who shot to fame with Halitha Shameem’s Sillu Karupatti. “But I was convinced people would love to watch good content, especially now,” adds Nivedithaa, adding that the release on Netflix was a last-minute surprise for the team. “We didn’t quite have a release plan in place.
We were overjoyed to get the confirmation from Netflix a couple of weeks back.” It is a double delight for Nivedithaa personally, as Sillu Karupatti too has found a place on Netflix’s roster. “Netflix took Sillu Karupatti to a larger audience, and it got me a lot of love. I have been very ambitious about both Sillu Karupatti and Sethum Aayiram Pon and it feels good to see them come out on Netflix, back to back. I shot for it so long ago that it is yet to sink in. It still feels surreal.” In SAP, Nivedithaa plays Meera, a make-up artist who returns to her village to meet her estranged grandmother. “The offer came to me while I was shooting for Sillu Karupatti,” begins Nivedithaa. The team had apparently been on the hunt for quite a while and were waiting to begin shooting. “By the end of the same day of my audition, I had secured the role!”
Nivedithaa says the script touched her. “I grew up with my grandparents, as both my parents were working and were abroad a lot. I am quite attached to my grandmother; so I broke down when I heard the story,” she recalls. Sethum Aayiram Pon also broke another important barrier for the young actor. “Though many have complimented my performances in auditions, I have always felt I could do better. My process is different, and I prefer taking time with my character. But SAP has given me the confidence that I can crack auditions too.”
The team rehearsed for ten days before they went to shoot, and Nivedithaa calls the project a ‘collaborative effort’. “Since it is an indie film, we had a small team and all of our inputs were taken. We squabbled a lot, but it was because all of us were very involved with the project.” Despite making her debut in Jyothika’s Magalir Mattum, it was Sillu Karupatti that landed Nivedithaa in the spotlight. She lets out a content laugh when I ask her about being dubbed ‘the Sillu Karupatti girl.’ “Magalir Mattum taught me the basics, and Halitha picked me up from there. I felt liberated being on her set. I had to just follow her instructions. Also, she wrote that character after she met; so it was sort of tailored on my persona.” The film fetched her a lot of love, and acknowledgement; the experience boosted Nivedithaa’s confidence.
“The film rid me of many insecurities. For instance, I didn’t have much makeup on -- just some kajal and lip balm. I got comfortable in my skin. I am a more confident actor now, able to stand up for myself.” She calls both Sillu Karupatti and Sethum Aayiram Pon instinctive choices. “We had treated Kakka Kadi (her short in Sillu Karupatti) like a short film. I had no idea how the final film would be, but I blindly trusted Halitha. We shot for Sethum Aayiram Pon four years back. I was very confident about these two films. I am glad they have got their due at the right time.” Up next for Nivedithaa is an untitled film directed by R Saravanan, headlined by Jyotika, Samuthirakani, and Sasikumar. Interestingly, Nivedithaa has had projects with both Jyotika and Samuthirakani before. “In Magalir Mattum, I didn’t have much screen space with Jo ma’am.
But in this film, I play her daughter. It is a proper family drama,” she says with excitement. “It is a huge set. After working on Sillu Karupatti, the mere size of the production had me in awe. Also, I am the kid on the set. Oru madhri ellaarayum vambu izhuthutu iruppen; it was fun,” she says, laughing. The actor has more in the pipeline but can’t divulge it yet. “The quarantine has put a spanner in the works.” However, she has been keeping herself busy sketching, cooking, working out and spending time with her family. “Everyone is mentally drained and having a routine will help you. Sometimes, peer pressure can get to you, especially with social media. But do what you want. The whole world is struggling right now; it is okay to take your time.” Her silver lining for these hard times is her family. “We, as a family, have always been quite busy. It feels good to spend time with them.”