In her first film as a female lead, Sanga Thalaivan, Ramya plays a village girl. One of the first scenes she shot had her milking a cow. Since director Manimaaran wanted it to look real, she decided to learn it.
“I learnt the process with a cow near my home in Mylapore. Later, I spent a few days feeding the cow used in the shoot and getting familiar. That way, the shoot went smoothly and was authentic.”
Ramya wanted to make sure she could pull off Lakshmi, the village girl, to perfection. She decided to read the novel on which Sanga Thalaivan is based.
“I was told Thariyudan was a long novel and it wasn’t necessary to read it. But I wanted to understand the ethos properly. The wider understanding I gained from this exercise improved my confidence and helped in my transformation.”
Being a Chennai-bred woman with a confident voice and body language, thanks to starting out as a TV host, her transformation to Lakshmi was no mean task.
“Lakshmi is totally different from me. To pull off this role, I learnt to first think and then behave like her. I cut down on talking loudly and chirpily, a result of years as an anchor. I changed the way I walked. Having seen many friends who were pregnant, I practised the body language. Later, when I signed up for Aadai and Master, all this experience came in handy, as I had now learnt how to get into character for a film.”
But years of experience as a TV anchor also helped her when she least expected it. “One day, mid-shoot, director Manimaaran suddenly sent me several pages of dialogues and announced that we would be shooting it as the next scene. The light was fading and he wanted to finish this scene that very day.”
Ramya worried if she could learn all the lines so fast. But Manimaaran had complete confidence in her.
“I actually did complete that entire scene in one take! I quickly read the lines and internalised the gist of what I had to say.”
Her fluency in Tamil meant that she could deliver the dialogue by adding her own words, circumventing the need to memorise everything. “At that moment, I realised that I was used to scanning several pages of info in a short time while hosting. Inputs would often be changed or added at the last minute. Unknown to me, I’d gained the ability to grasp things quickly and this came in handy.”