“Even though I don’t need to, I get up at 3 o’clock- 4 o’clock in the morning to work. I am still hungry for work” – Priyamani
Priyamani, is an Indian film actress who works in Malayalam, Telugu, Kannada, Tamil, and Hindi-language films. She is the recipient of a National Film Award for Best Actress and three Filmfare Awards in different-language films. She has more than 60 films to her credit till date. She shared screen space with Shahrukh Khan in the blockbuster Chennai Express in the dance number – 1234. She will be seen opposite Ajay Devgn in upcoming hindi film – Maidaan.
Q. You are considered to be a versatile actress. It has been more then 15 years in the film industry, with several awards to your credit, including – a National award. How it feels?
It feels great indeed! I am happy, as, have been getting lot of films and different kind of films, mostly after marriage. Generally, in the industry it is known that once a girl is married she’ll give up and she’ll want to settle into marriage and do family. I guess I am lucky. I am not saying that I am the only one, but one, who is getting more roles and more offers post marriage.
I wish that it will continue and also, I would like to thank my husband and family for being really understanding and supportive. It is great to have such supportive family and in laws.
Q. Today, you are a very successful star. But we noticed, initially you had a not so encouraging start, as it took several films and almost 5 years to pull it off with Paruthiveeran. What was going through your mind during those days?
I started my career in 2002 with Kangalal Kaidhu Sei. It was a Tamil film directed by Bharathiraja sir. We started shooting in 2002 but it came out in 2004. I did few film including Evare Atagaadu, Satyam, Ullam, Adhu Oru Kana Kaalam, Otta Nanayam with Dhanush and more. But I was not getting the success, I wanted.
At that point of time, I honestly thought that to quit the industry because every time even Bharathiraja sir‘s film my very first debut that started out in 2002 and it took two years to release. And then, the next film also took one year to release, so, I started thinking that why is that such a long gap happening and being delayed. So, thought, I should not waste my time and do something else . I started thinking for the plan B.
I spoke to my father and he told, ‘let us see for one more year and even if after one year it doesn’t work, then you can quit the industry.’
Then within one year Paruthiveeran happened and things started working. Honestly I want to say that it re- installed my trust because I didn’t know how Paruthiveeran would be like in audience’s response- whether, they would like such movie or no. But then, the way it worked – it took us all to another level. Paruthiveeran was definitely a game changer for me.
Q. If not actress, what would have been your plan B? Would you have joined family business?
No, would not have joined family business. My father had a plantation business long before the 80s, which he gave away by 82. When my brother was born, he had already set up his own business, which till the date I don’t understand. I know that he manufactures tools for auto mobiles and things like that, but, I cannot understand when he explains anything about the automobiles, as it flies over my head. Never in my life, I thought that I would join him.
I always thought if acting thing will not work out, I would probably be doing hotel management or become an air hostess something because it was me, and it was glamorous , as you have to look good and dress up really well in both fields, And I can say that as it was my plan B.
Q. You always wanted to be an actress?
Honestly no!. Nobody from my family was connected with the film industry, so I did not have a godfather or anybody who held my hand and showed the right path. Everything I did was with my hard work. My mother was there to help me- she used to be there always, also, used to stay awake when I had night shoots.
I think, I never wanted to be an actress. I wanted to do modelling since the beginning. So, I started my career as a model and did quite a number of print shoots, ad shoots. From there, my photos were circulated and Bharathiraja sir’s project happened.
Surprisingly, I never did a screen test or auditions in my life. Every time it had been like -you fit in the character and it is final. But recently, I have started giving some types of look test. I am not trying to brag and say I am the best, but I think it is just the God’s gift.
I have definitely taken my time. I opted for film slowly because I wanted to do quality films not quantity films and if it was about the quantity then I would’ve done hundred films by now.
Q. Which have been your most challenging role/roles?
I think there has been three films one is Paruthiveeran. The second one will be Charulatha in that I did a twins role The next one would be Malayalam film called Thirakkatha which means screenplay and it’s based upon the life of an actress between 1982 to 2008 and has ovarian cancer. These three films have been very challenging for me.
Q. You recently debuted on OTT platform with the web series The Family Man. What are your views on the emerging content platforms?
It is amazing and I am glad to be a part of The Family Man. Now, you see on the OTT platform any format works, whatever you make- it works and also, there is no censorship. Also, at the moment digital is the next big thing in India and OTT platforms are taking over like crazy and becoming popular. In today’s generation, you can see that each and every body is on the phone or on the laptop or any other gadget- they’re watching some series, playing games and more. People have forgotten to go to the theatres, they do not want to watch television, they do not want to spend time with friends and family. Rather, they want to be on the Technology because technology is taking over so much.
I am not against it or I am not for it also. Also, I feel that you should also spend time with family and friends it’s important but in another way if you see OTT platforms, they have reached such a level, everybody is interested in doing OTT and web series and because I believe that it’s going to be the trend. So, it’s a good thing and I am happy that series like The Family Man has been doing so good.
Q. Are you a risk taker?
I do not think I can answer this with a yes or no, but sometimes, it is good to take a risk.
Q. You have worked with most of the prominent directors. Whom you want to work with in future?
I do not want to point out someone but yes, I want to work with Rohit Shetty and also, Anurag Kashyap. It is not because of big-name you want to work with, but they have that quality films and fantastic films. Even in the South, there are some new directors, who have fabulous vision for their stories. We do not know -what will happen in the post production but what they make is really fantastic and unique.
Q. What has been your biggest life lesson?
I am still learning and taking every day as a lesson. I am not that old enough to actually say that I have learnt this and stuff like that. I think I have this tendency of believing everything what people say so I guess I have to just step back on that.
Then yeah, I used to get flustered a lot because if some of the other thing did not happen I used to get really flustered. Now , I have calmed down a lot and for that, I just give all the thanks to my husband.
Q. What is next from you ?
I am currently working on a film with Rana Daggubati in Telugu. I am doing Maidan with Ajay sir and also, The Family Man – Season 2. So, I have my hands full.
Q. What would you like to tell our readers?
I would definitely say – keep working hard. If you need to, you have to burn the midnight oil because if not today, tomorrow your hard work will have results. I am still working hard – I still get up at 3 o’clock 4 o’clock in the morning to work, even though I do not need to, but I am still hungry for work.
Also, If you become successful and popular tomorrow, don’t forget – how you started, from where you started.