‘Gautham sir liked my husky voice’: Siddhi Idnani

Although not conceived as a two-parter, Siddhi says that everyone felt that by the fag end of the film, the story felt like a sort of beginning to something bigger.
Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu
Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu

Firsts are always special. For Siddhi Idnani, it’s even more so, given that she makes her debut in a film featuring an ace actor, made by a hugely successful filmmaker, and to music by an Academy Award-winner.

Vendhu Thanindhathu Kaadu (VTK), which has names like Gautham Menon and AR Rahman on its crew, is set to release this Thursday, and Siddhi is still unable to come to terms with it. “I saw the poster of this film in September 2021, at a time when I hadn’t come on board yet. I remember thinking that any girl who gets to be part of this film would be so fortunate,” she says.

Dreams have a way of coming true, and so, it did for Siddhi. “Sasi sir who is directing me in Nooru Kodi Vaanavil, and director Obeli Krishna had put a good word about me to GVM sir. I came for an audition and was asked to wear a blue saree. I thought it was for the look test, but they asked me to do a scene with Simbu sir. I asked GVM sir whether I was chosen, and he said that it was enough that I had done a scene with Simbu to qualify for the film. It was a memorable day!”

Gautham Menon is well-known for writing strong roles for women, and for that reason, Siddhi is proud to be among the list of “GVM heroines”. Having grown up on films like Minnale, Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, and Kaakha Kaakha, Siddhi likes how Gautham makes sure women get a wholesome character arc, even when stories revolve around men. In this film, she plays Paavai, who she describes as being “an honest, calm, and driving force for Muthu (Simbu).”

While Simbu had already shot half of his portions for the film, she didn’t find it to be a challenge to slide into her character halfway into the shoot “Paavai has a bit of both Tamil and Hindi cultures in her, and as I have been born and brought up in Mumbai, GVM sir felt I had a bit of her in me already.”

For the performance, she claims to have channelled the method actor in her. “Recently, I have developed a way through which I dig deep into a character. I interpreted Paavai as being white. She is pure and innocent. She might have a hard exterior because of what she has gone through and her fast-paced life, she has a rather soft interior. I even wore a white saree during the audio launch as a tribute to her.”

Despite being from Mumbai, Siddhi has dubbed for herself. I ask if her talent for languages comes from her father, famous voice modulation trainer Ashok Idnani. “Appa has a knack for accents and languages. He believes that wherever you go, you must speak the local language to connect with people. He believes that dubbing is half of a performance. I felt that it would add value,” she explains.

Gautham readily agreed to her request, as he liked her husky voice. “He was very welcoming when I offered to dub. During dubbing, my voice would get husky after a couple of takes. Those turned out to be his favourite takes,” Siddhi says, with a smile.

When asked about the pressure of working alongside such revered names, the actor coolly says she works best under pressure.

“When such reputable people are associated with a project, I make sure I bring my A-game as well. They all made me feel so welcome. When Rahman sir posted a video recently, he even remembered to tag me. Also, Simbu and GVM sir allowed me to speak my mind. For a new girl like me, to have my opinions be heard by those who are so well-established, it’s a great feeling.”

Siddhi expresses the hope that she can do period or mythological characters. “I read a lot of mythology. I’m a big fan of The Palace of the Illusions, and right now, I am reading this book called The Forest of Enchantment. I hope that I can play the likes of Draupadi and Sita sometime.”

With VTK released as duology, Siddhi teases that the second film will be grander. Although not conceived as a two-parter, Siddhi says that everyone felt that by the fag end of the film, the story felt like a sort of beginning to something bigger. “I feel like I have hit the jackpot and I’m happy to relive Paavai again.”

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The New Indian Express